Hurricane facts A hurricane is a severe tropical storm that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico or in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Hurricane dangers "The greatest potential for loss of life related to a hurricane is from the storm surge." - Brian Jarvinen, National Hurricane Center
NOAA's Forecast Process "Part of the mission of the National Weather Service (NWS) Tropical Prediction Center (TPC) is to save lives and protect property by issuing watches, warnings, forecasts, and analyses of hazardous weather conditions in the tropics.
Before the storm - Be Prepared
Planning ahead Everyone should have a plan that considers all the risks that could be encountered if severe tropical weather threatens.
Hurricane kit A list of items that should be included a hurricane kit.
People with special needs Now is the time to make sure that people with special needs are registered with the local fire department, police department, other local emergency agencies and the power company. Also, enlist the help of neighbors, friends and relatives living nearby.
Pets and animals Now is the time to start calling kennels, veterinarians, friends and family members to arrange safe lodging in a non-evacuation zone for pets. Some motels in the area allow pets year-round and some make exceptions during storm situations.
Homes and businesses All plans should include a list of things to do to protect homes and businesses. People can move out of harm's way, structures cannot.
Safe room Everyone should have a safe room located in a large interior closet, bathroom or hallway.
Vehicles Before the storm, cover or park the vehicle inside a garage or other enclosed area.
Boats Plans for boat owners should include ways to secure their vessels as soon as weather forecasters predict that tropical weather could be a threat. The Coast Guard recommends that boat owners get in touch with local marinas for advice on protecting vessels during tropical weather.
Insurance policies Now is the time to review homeowners and renters insurance to make sure coverage is adequate. Most insurance companies will not allow a change in coverage after a storm has been predicted. Also, remember many insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period before a new policy becomes effective.
Food and water A sufficient supply of water is crucial in times of emergency. An active, healthy person needs to drink at least two quarts of water a day - more if the weather is hot. Additional water may be needed depending on the age, health, physical activity of each individual and the temperature. More water will be needed when the weather is hot.
Just before the storm As the storm approaches, stay tuned to local media sources and weather broadcast stations. When the weather service predicts a storm is headed toward the county, begin final preparations. The county's emergency management office will issue any evacuation orders and other recommended actions as they become necessary.
Emergency water Emergency water sources include rainwater, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and natural springs. Salt water should be distilled. Never drink floodwater. Water from emergency source should be purified before drinking or using to prepare food.
Emergency food During and right after a disaster, people need to maintain their strength.
Generators According to Gary Vickers, director of Pinellas County emergency services, the choice of whether or not to purchase a generator is personal.
Returning home after a storm People who have left evacuated areas should wait until emergency officials announce it is safe to return. Some communities require identification that must be shown before people are allowed to return to their homes.