Hurricane Evacuation Guide
Hurricane Watches and Warnings
The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Most tropical-storm activity affecting Virginia typically occurs between mid-August and late September.
All Virginians should understand the different types of watches and warnings for these storms:
TROPICAL STORM WATCH: A tropical storm watch is issued when tropical storm conditions, including winds from 39 to 73 mph, pose a possible threat to a specified area within 48 hours.
TROPICAL STORM WARNING: A tropical storm warning is issued when tropical storm conditions are expected to affect a specified area within 36 hours or less.
HURRICANE WATCH: A hurricane watch is issued for a specified area when hurricane conditions, including sustained winds of 74 mph or greater, are possible within 48 hours.
HURRICANE WARNING: A hurricane warning is issued for a specified area when hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours. In coastal or near-coastal areas, a hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water – or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves – continues, even though the winds may have subsided below hurricane intensity.
Note: The following damage descriptions pertain only to the wind effects of storms. Heavy rains can occur at any level and can cause river flooding and flash flooding anywhere in Virginia, regardless of storm intensity.
Winds: 39-73 mph
Wind Effects: Scattered trees down, scattered power outages, some roads blocked due to downed trees and power lines. For example, neighborhoods could lose power for several days.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale categorizes storm strength based on the hurricane's intensity.
For more detailed information, visit National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association website on the Saffir-Simpson scale, which was updated in early 2010
Winds: 74-95 mph
Winds effects: Damage to mobile and some frame-constructed homes. Numerous trees down and widespread power outages. Roads blocked due to downed trees and power lines. Loose outdoor items will become airborne projectiles. For example, an area as large as a county could experience near total power loss.
Winds: 96-110 mph
Wind Effects: Severe damage to the majority of mobile and frame-constructed homes. Many trees down. Well-constructed homes will have damage to shingles, siding and gutters. Extensive damage to power lines and widespread power outages. Airborne debris could injure or kill. Damage could extend well inland. For example, multiple localities could experience near total loss of power and water for several days or weeks.
Winds: 111-129 mph
Wind Effects: Nearly all mobile homes destroyed. Severe damage to most homes, including structural collapse. Airborne debris will injure or kill. Severe damage to most low-rise apartment buildings with partial roof and wall failure. Damage could extend well inland. For example, large portions of the affected area could experience total power and water loss for more than a week.
Winds: 130- 156 mph
Wind Effects: Catastrophic damage to residential structures. Most of affected area will be uninhabitable for weeks or longer. Nearly all industrial buildings and low-rise apartment buildings severely damaged or destroyed. Nearly all trees and power poles downed. Damage could extend well inland. For example, large portions of the affected area will experience total power and water loss for weeks and possibly months.
Winds: 157+ mph
Wind Effects: Similar to Category 4.
For information about how to prepare for all types of emergencies, visit www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia