Storm and hurricane forecasts and warnings are issued by NOAA's National
Hurricane Center. Boaters and coastal residents can get storm and
hurricane information from VHF marine
radios, commercial radio and television stations and newspapers,
or NOAA weather
In some areas, warning
flags are flown to warn boaters of dangerous weather conditions
Small Craft Advisory:
|To alert mariners to sustained (more than two hours)
weather or sea conditions, either present or forecast, that might
be hazardous to small boats. The threshold conditions for the
Small Craft Advisory are usually 18 knots of wind (less than 18
knots in some dangerous waters) or hazardous wave conditions.
||A warning of winds within the range of 39 –
54 mph (34 – 47 knots). Gale warnings may precede or accompany
a hurricane watch.
||A warning of winds within the range of 55 –
73 mph (48 – 63 knots).
||A warning that indicates that hurricane winds of
74 mph (64 knots) and higher, or a combination of dangerously
high water and rough seas, are expected to impact a specified
coastal area. When a hurricane warning is announced, hurricane
conditions are considered imminent and may begin immediately,
or at least within the next 12 to 24 hours. When a warning is
announced, it is of utmost importance that precautionary measures
are taken for protection of life and property.
National Hurricane Center (NHC) advisory terms
- Advisory: Weather advisory messages are issued
for tropical storms and hurricanes. An advisory states the location,
intensity, direction of travel, and speed of a tropical storm or
- Bulletin: A weather bulletin is a public release
made during periods between advisories, announcing the latest details
on the storm or hurricane.
- Hurricane: A violent storm originating over
tropical waters, with winds near its center reaching 74 mph and
higher. In size, the storm may range from 50 to 1,000 miles in diameter.
Saffer/Simpson Hurricane Scale
Used by the National Weather Service
Height of Storm Surge Above Normal (ft)
Central Pressure (inch Hg)
Greater than 28.94
Less than 27.17
How do I prepare my boat, trailer or myself before
- If you live or boat in an area prone to hurricanes or heavy weather,
know your local and national weather sources and monitor them continuously.
Get into the habit of reading weather signs and monitoring the weather.
- Contact local marinas and ask for advice. You will find marina
operators knowledgeable and helpful. They can advise you on the
best methods for securing your boat.
- Remove small boats from the water and move them to a secure location.
Ensure the trailer and boat are secured above likely flood areas.
Remove all loose items. Ensure the boat is tied securely to the
- If your boat is too large to be removed from the water, move
it to a safe haven well before the storm approaches. You should
know where safe havens are in the area where you boat.
Do not go out to sea in a recreational boat to "ride out" a hurricane.
- If you are unable to move your boat contact local marinas for
- Some steps that may be taken are:
- Use extra fenders. Some people even lash used tires to boats
to protect them.
- Double up and secure mooring lines.
- Secure all hatches and portals and cover windscreens.
- Take down mast whenever possible.
- Remove all loose items from decks and superstructure and
from area around mooring. Leave nothing unsecured.
- Never forget that storms move quickly and they are unpredictable.
You can always replace a boat; you can not replace a life.
What if I get caught out in a storm?
View video of the sailing vessel Osiris being
rescued from a storm in 1994.
- At the first sign of heavy weather seek shelter. While enroute,
secure boat and prepare passengers for possible rough water, heavy
rains and high winds: have all aboard put on life jackets.
- Do not let passengers below deck remove life jackets. If you think
the boat may sink, it may be best not to have passengers below deck
at all; keep them above deck and attached to safety lines.
- If you get into trouble, call for help immediately. Keep in touch
with the Coast Guard or anyone else you can reach so someone knows
your location and assistance can be sent if needed.
- Coast Guard frequencies are Channel 16 VHF/FM or 2182 MHZ. Do
not use or rely on cellular phones in place of a radio. Use them
only as a backup system.
- If your boat swamps, stay with it. Once in water, tether passengers
together and keep moving slowly to keep circulation and body temperature
up. Moving quickly can over-exert you.
- If the boat is large and may sink, you should be carrying life
rafts. Board life rafts and stay with them. Huddling together will
help keep body temperature up to help prevent hypothermia.
I do following a hurricane and where can I get information
Download Video of Hurricane Damage
- Check with local authorities before entering any storm-damaged
area. Do not rush down to your boat. Boaters should not place themselves
in danger to get to a boat.
- Do not try to enter damaged boathouses until authorities say it
is safe to do so.
- Do not try to reach your boat if it has been forced into the water
and is surrounded by debris. Wait until authorities have made safe
- Do not try to board a partially sunken boat; seek salvage assistance
from a professional.
- If a boat has been washed inland and is stranded, do not approach
it until authorities say it is safe to approach. There may electrical
(or power) lines, harmful debris, dangerous wildlife in area.
- Do only what safety and authorities permit.
- Watch out for and report oil, gasoline or chemical spills to the
Coast Guard and local emergency agencies.
- Information can be found from the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), your insurance company,
and local authorities.