Hurricane Preparedness Print E-mail

Current Hurricane Condition:  Pre-Hurricane – 72+ Hours


            HURCON 4 – 72-48 Hours

            HURCON 3 – 48-24 Hours

            HURCON 2 – 24 Hours

            HURCON 1 – 12 Hours


The following numbers will give current hurricane condition information for USCENTCOM and MacDill AFB:


    •    USSCENTCOM Command Center:  1-866-656-7754


     •   Air Force Personnel Command:  1-800-435-9941  

Are You At Risk?

If you live in any one of these counties, you ARE at risk!  Please learn about your Hurricane Evacuation (Hurrivac) Zone.

Are you ready for an emergency?

Commissaries are teaming up with the Armed Forces Emergency Services Branch of the American Red Cross to raise awareness of disaster preparedness throughout the military community. The “What’s in Your Closet” campaign also reminds customers they can save 30 percent or more while loading up their pantries. Customers will see posters and handouts in stores, and reminder buttons on employees. A Pentagon Channel report on "What's in Your Closet?" can be viewed from the front page of and customers can also download a supply closet “shopping list” from the front page.

Are you prepared for a disaster? Pantry-loading is encouraged at your commissary


How to Prepare

  • Know your evacuation zone. Plan to relocate if your home is in an evacuation zone or is a mobile home.
  • Ensure you have adequate insurance for vehicles, personal property, and real estate. If you rent or lease and apartment, ensure you have a “renter’s insurance policy” and that your geographic location and residence are accurately recorded with your insurance company.
  • Identify your risk of Flood Damage. If you own a home and flooding may be a threat, contact your insurance company and ensure you have coverage against flooding. Flood insurance often requires separate coverage. There is usually a two week waiting period prior to the coverage going into effect. For more information, see the  National Flood Insurance Program
  • Create a household disaster plan. Plan to meet your family in case you are separated. Choose an out-of-town contact for everyone to call to say they are safe. Locate the nearest public shelter as a back up to your primary plan.
  • Obtain supplies to protect your property and for survival.
  • Arrange for the safe keeping of your pets. They cannot be taken to public shelters.
  • Make a complete inventory of personal property; take photographs or video of major items.
  • Ensure your directorate’s Disaster Preparedness Officer or designated Point of Contact knows your anticipated evacuation location. Also include anticipated location of dependents if you expect separate locations. Include email addresses and telephone numbers for each location.
  • Click Here to download the Hurricane Preparedness Guide from the Federal Emergency Mangement Agency (FEMA)

How/When to Act

Decision Point: When a storm watch is issued, you'll need to decide whether to Go or Stay.

Staying Home: If you remain in your home

  • Implement your household disaster plan
  • Stay away from windows and glass doors.
  • Fill water containers and clean bath tubs with water.
  • Periodically check your telephone for a dial tone.
  • Prepare to cope with any family members that have special medical needs? What special supplies and food will you need to have on hand?
  • Do you need to have any special equipment available for after the storm?
  • Put important documents in a safe, waterproof location, such as a waterproof safe, or an ice cooler sealed with duct tape?
  • Notify out-of-area relatives that you are staying behind
  • Prepared to live without utilities and normal services for as long as two weeks after the storm
  • Remain calm.

Leaving: If you evacuate:

  • Implement your household disaster plan
  • When a hurricane strike is imminent, plan ahead and be prepared to evacuate as soon as the anticipated evacuation order is given.
  • Identify ahead of time where you could go if you are told to evacuate. Choose several places -- a friend's home in another town, a motel, or a shelter.
  • Evacuation orders are mandatory. Don't try to stay behind or argue with authorities.
  • Keep handy the telephone numbers of these places as well as a road map of your locality. You may need to take alternative or unfamiliar routes if major roads are closed or clogged.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or TV stations such as am970 or Bay News 9 for evacuation instructions. 
  • Know where you are going. Have a backup plan if roads are too congested to get out in time. Know your designated local shelter.
  • Take your hurricane box with you.
  • Before leaving your home, shut off all gas appliances and water at root valves. Shut off main electrical breakers. (NOTE: consider leaving refrigerator circuit on.)
  • Be alert for tornadoes, which are often spawned by hurricanes.
  • Do not bring pets, alcoholic beverages, or weapons to public shelters.
  • Keep important papers, especially insurance policies, with you at all times.
  • Constantly monitor your radio for the latest information on the storm movement or until the “All Clear” has been issued.
  • Notify other family members where you will be
  • Do not try to return to your home until local authorities grant permission. Expect limited access and curfews during recovery operations.

In Either Case, do the following

  • Constantly monitor weather reports on television or radio. Hurricanes can move very quickly. Hurricanes typically move at a forward speed of 8 to 25 miles per hour. This means an approaching storm can move up to 200 miles during the course of a normal work day. As the hurricane gets close, begin monitoring the weather reports every hour. Bay News 9 am970, and the Weather Channel are two examples of weather information.
  • Double check hurricane box and collect items not kept with your hurricane box.
  • Keep a Photo I.D. with your current address. This may become important when asking a police officer or National Guardsman for permission to re-enter your neighborhood.
  • Fuel all your vehicles
  • Get a supply of cash. During the recovery period, checks and credit cards may not be accepted and ATMs may not be working.
  • Anchor small boats or move them to shelter. Anchor loose items on or near your property such as TV antennas, garbage cans, garden tools, toys, lawn furniture, etc.
  • Board up or shutter large windows. Tape exposed glass surfaces to prevent shattering.

Hurricane Ready Kit

As a minimum, prepare yourself to be without food and water for at least 3 days. The following are suggested items for your hurricane kit

Hurricance Box: A suggested list of hurricane box contents is below:

  • Canned and non-perishable foods
  • Water - at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days
  • Cooking tools (ie. A non-electric can opener.)
  • Camp stove (with fuel)
  • Lantern (with fuel)
  • Several flashlights and fresh batteries.
  • A portable, battery operated radio and fresh batteries.
  • Cell phone.
  • Zip-lock bags to protect valuables.
  • A portable cooler and ice.
  • Baby food, formula, diapers, and baby wipes.
  • Toiletries.
  • Eating utensils.
  • Masking tape.
  • Bedding, blankets or sleeping bags.
  • Valuables and important papers (ie.. insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.) in waterproof containers, including your directorate recall list.
  • Plastic drop cloth.
  • A few games and books for children.
  • Iodine or other water purification tablets.
  • Candles and matches.
  • Radio - Battery operated with NOAA Weather Radio 
  • Blankets / Pillows, etc.
  • Clothing - seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes
  • First Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs
  • Special Items - for babies and the elderly
  • Toiletries / Hygiene items / Moisture wipes
  • Keys
  • Important documents - in a waterproof container
  • Vehicle fuel tanks filled
  • Pet care items (proper identification/immunization records/medications), ample supply of food and water, a carrier or cage, muzzle and leash
  • Canned sodas
  • Plastic garbage bags
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Bleach
  • Pet food
  • Bedding (1 blanket or sleeping bag per person)
  • Cooler
  • Ice
  • Toiletries
  • Clean clothes and sturdy shoes
  • Clothes & dish detergent
  • Clothesline and pins
  • Fire extinguisher - ABC type
  • Gloves & goggles
  • Small tools
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Brooms & mops
  • Pails and buckets
  • Ladders
  • Plywood & nails
  • Rakes & shovels
  • Chain saw, gas & oil
  • Duct and masking tape
  • Rolls of plastic
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Battery operated clock
  • Butane lighter or matches
  • Axes, hatchets, pruners
  • Rope

Commercially available disaster kits are also available. Click Here for more information.

Review this inventory at the beginning of each hurricane season, replacing batteries, foods, water, etc. with fresh stock for the new season.

Rehearse your Plan

Consider the following exercise: Try to live for one day without your utilities and begin making a list of essential items that become evident. Parents should plan a "camp in" with their children. This will make it less traumatic both you and your children when you are forced to live without the everyday things we all take for granted.

The following numbers will give current hurricane condition information for USCENTCOM and MacDill AFB.

  • USCENTCOM Command Center – 1-866-656-7754  

  •  6th Air Mobility Wing 1-800-435-9941

The Hazards

A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone, the generic term for a low pressure system that generally forms in the tropics. The ingredients for a hurricane include a pre-existing weather disturbance, warm tropical oceans, moisture, and relatively light winds aloft. A typical cyclone is accompanied by thunderstorms, and in the Northern Hemisphere, a counterclockwise circulation of winds near the earth’s surface. more...

High Winds

The intensity of a landfalling hurricane is expressed in terms of categories that relate wind speeds and potential damage More...


Hurricanes can also produce tornadoes that add to the storm's destructive power. Tornadoes are most likely to occur in the right-front quadrant of the hurricane. However, they are also often found elsewhere embedded in the rainbands, well away from the center of the hurricane More...

Storm Surge

Storm surge is water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm More...


While storm surge is always a potential threat, more people have died from inland flooding in the last 30 years. Intense rainfall is not directly related to the wind speed of tropical cyclones. In fact, some of the greatest rainfall amounts occur from weaker storms that drift slowly or stall over an area. More...

Marine Hazards

Hurricanes have been the cause of many maritime disasters and unfortunately, there is no single rule of thumb that can be used by mariners to ensure safe separation from a hurricane at sea. Instead, constant monitoring of hurricane potential & continual risk analysis when used with some fundamental guidelines become the basic tools to minimize a hurricane's impact to vessels at sea or in port. More...

Terms and Definitions

  • Tropical Disturbance: An area of thunderstorms in the tropics that may have rotary circulation and maintains its identity for at least 24 hours.
  • Tropical Depression: A storm system displaying a noticeable rotary circulation and maximum sustained wind speeds of 38 miles per hour.
  • Tropical Storm: A storm system that displays substantial rotary circulation and maximum sustained winds between 39 and 73 miles per hour. When a system reaches Tropical Storm strength, it is assigned a name by the National Hurricane Center.
  • Tropical Storm Watch: An announcement for specific areas that a storm, or the potential of a newly developing tropical storm, poses a threat to coastal areas, generally within 36 hours.
  • Tropical Storm Warning: A warning that tropical storm conditions, including possible sustained winds within the range of 39 - 73 miles per hour, are expected in specific coastal areas within 24 hours.
  • Hurricane: Once a tropical storm's constant wind speed reaches 74 mph or greater, it is classified as a hurricane.
  • Hurricane Watch: An announcement for specific coastal areas that a hurricane or an incipient hurricane condition poses a possible threat, generally within 36 hours.
  • Hurricane Warning: A warning that a hurricane is expected in a specific coastal area within 24 hours. When a hurricane warning is issued, all precautions should be taken immediately. If the hurricane's path is unusual or erratic, the warning may be issued only a few hours before the beginning of hurricane conditions.
  • Storm Surge: The increase in water level beyond normal tidal changes caused by the action of the storm. This is an increase in standing water level; wave action may cause damage above this level.
  • Hurricane Categories: Safir-Simpson Scale for categorizing a hurricane's intensity:
Links of Interest

General Hurricane Information

Hurricane Safety Information

Real-time Hurricane Imagery

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