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Hurricane Basics

Hurricane Names

When the the winds from these storms reach 39 mph (34 kts), the cyclones are given names. Years ago, an international committee developed names for Atlantic cyclones. In 1979, a six-year rotating list of Atlantic storm names was adopted – alternating between male and female hurricane names. Storm names are used to facilitate geographic referencing, for warning services, for legal issues, and to reduce confusion when two or more tropical cyclones occur at the same time. Through a vote of the World Meteorological Organization Region IV Subcommittee, Atlantic cyclone names are usually retired when hurricanes result in substantial damage or death, or for other special circumstances.

Basic Hurricane Safety Actions

  • Know if you live in an evacuation area. Know your home's vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind. Have a written plan based on this knowledge.
  • At the beginning of hurricane season (June 1st), check the supplies for your disaster supply kit, replace batteries and use food stocks on a rotating basis.
  • During hurricane season, monitor the tropics.
  • Monitor NOAA Weather Radio. It is an excellent and official source for real-time weather information and warnings.
  • If a storm threatens, heed the advice from local authorities. Evacuate if ordered to do so.
  • Execute your family plan.

Watch vs. Warning — Know the Difference

  • A Hurricane Watch issued for your part of the coast indicates the possibility that you could experience hurricane conditions within 36 hours. This watch should trigger your family's disaster plan, and protective measures should be initiated, especially those actions that require extra time such as securing a boat, leaving a barrier island, etc.
  • A Hurricane Warning issued for your part of the coast indicates that sustained winds of at least 74 mph are expected within 24 hours or less. Once this warning has been issued, your family should be in the process of completing protective actions and deciding the safest location to be during the storm.


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Provided by The National Weather Service. The National Weather Service is a component of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA is an Operating Unit of the U.S. Department of Commerce.


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