Know the Difference Between a Hurricane Watch & Warning

Knowing what to do when there is a hurricane watch or a hurricane warning is essential for families in order for them to be ready for evacuation or sheltering in place during severe tropical storms.

According to the Florida Division of Emergency Management's (DEM's) State Emergency Response Team (SERT), families need to know both when to set hurricane preparations in motion as well as when it's too late to evacuate by understanding the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning.

If the National Hurricane Center issues a hurricane watch, a hurricane is 36 hours from landfall and families should begin to follow their previously established disaster plans.

If a hurricane warning is issued, a hurricane is 36 hours from land and winds are expected to reach speeds of 74 mph or greater.

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If a family's plan is to evacuate, they must leave before tropical storm force winds reach the area as roads and bridges can close and it becomes unsafe to be outside, according to SERT media.

When a storm is developing, families should:

  • Check supplies
  • Go over disaster plans together
  • Get fuel for vehicles
  • Ready buildings to protect them from hurricane damage before tropical storm–force winds arrive
  • Monitor media for instructions, such as evacuation zone activation, from local government officials

If evacuation is ordered for the area, families should begin their planned evacuations right away.

Learn more about hurricane watches, hurricane warnings, advisories and outlooks on the National Weather Service website.

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