Hurricanes and Tropical Storms
Hurricane Season: June 1 - November 30
Each year, many coastal communities experience heavy rains, strong winds, floods and coastal storm surges from tropical storms and hurricanes. A hurricane’s high winds may spawn tornadoes. Torrential rains cause further damage by causing floods and landslides, which not only threaten coastal communities but may impact communities many miles inland. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October.
No matter which region of the Commonwealth you live in, a hurricane or tropical storm can impact you and your family. Prepare BEFORE the storm hits by building an emergency kit and reviewing the Disaster Preparedness Guide.
Know the Terms
- Tornado Watch: A tornado is possible in your area. You should monitor weather-alert radios and local radio and TV stations for information.
- Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted in the area or has been indicated by National Weather Service Doppler radar. When a warning is issued, take cover immediately.
Create a plan
- Decide where you will go in case of a tornado warning. Include an emergency meeting place for your family.
- Pick a safe room in your home:
- If an underground shelter is not available, go into a windowless interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.
- Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they attract debris.
- Storm cellars or basements give the best protection
- A vehicle, trailer or mobile home does not provide good protection. Go to a nearby sturdy building, or lie down in a ditch away from your home, covering your head with your hands. Mobile homes are extremely unsafe during tornadoes.
If You Are Away from Home
Take These Steps:
- Cars and trucks: Get out of your vehicle and try to find shelter inside a sturdy building. A culvert or ditch can provide shelter if a substantial building is not nearby. Lie down flat and cover your head with your hands. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
- Open buildings (shopping mall, gym or civic center): Try to get into a restroom or interior hallway. If there is no time, get up against something that will support or deflect falling debris. Protect your head by covering it with your arms.
Lightning & Thunderstorms
If you can hear thunder, you can be struck by lightning.
Know the Terms
- Severe Thunderstorm Watch: large hail, winds 58 mph or greater or a tornado are possible in your area in the next 3 to 6 hours.
- Severe Thunderstorm Warning: large hail, winds 58 mph or greater or a tornado are happening in your area or are about to happen.
30 / 30 Rule
Use the 30 / 30 rule:
- If the time between the flash of lightning and the sound of thunder is 30 seconds or less, then lightning is close enough to strike you. Go inside immediately.
- Wait inside until 30 minutes have passed since the last flash of lightning.
Create a Plan
- If a thunderstorm is likely in your area, go indoors and use the 30 / 30 rule.
- Listen to local TV or radio for weather watches and warnings.
- Plumbing, bathroom fixtures and corded telephones can conduct electricity and cause serious injury.
- Secure outdoor items that could blow away.
- Unplug computers or television sets to prevent power surges.
Learn more about how to prepare for these situations on the Preparedness page.