Hurricanes and Tropical Storms
Be Ready for Hurricane Season
A hurricane is a huge storm that can be up to 600 miles across and have strong winds spiraling inward and upward at speeds of 75 to 200 mph. They can be life-threatening as well as cause serious property-threatening hazards such as flooding, storm surge, high winds and tornadoes.
The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1st to November 30th. New Jersey's tropical storm activity is typically between August and late October.
We encourage you to read through the “Hurricane Survival Guide for New Jersey,” and take the actions necessary to secure your family and home. The preparations you make for hurricanes will also help you survive all types of natural disasters.
Know the Difference
Hurricane Watch: Conditions possible within the next 48 hrs.
Hurricane Warning: Conditions are expected within 36 hrs.
On the Web
Use credible websites to get information about natural hazards and emergency preparedness. The NJOEM works closely with the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center regarding storm predictions and forecasts.
- National Weather Service
- National Weather Service Mobile Site
- National Hurricane Center
- New Jersey Specific Weather Forecasts, Watches And Warnings
- New Jersey Office of Emergency Management
- Connect with your local information sources. Contact your County Office of Emergency Management to learn about the localized information sources provided by your county. If your County utilizes Social media and/or alert systems, you'll be able to get the links here.
Social media and other advanced communications technologies are used by the EMS and by emergency managers statewide.
- NJOEM on Facebook: www.facebook.com/READYNEWJERSEY
- NJOEM on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ReadyNJ
Be sure to sign up for Twitter Alerts at the NJOEM account set up page so you can receive a direct notification to your phone whenever NJOEM issues an alert.
- NJOEM on Instagram: www.instagram.com/ReadyNJ
- NJOEM on Nextdoor: nextdoor.com/agency-detail/nj/new-jersey/new-jersey-office-of-emergency-management
- NJ State Police on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NewJerseyStatePolice
- NJ State Police on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NJSP
Alerts - Mobile / Text (SMS) & E-Mail
Be sure you have a phone charger to keep your phone charged if the power goes out.
If you have a cell phone or smart phone, you have lots of options for receiving up to date information about emergencies:
- Cellular Mobile Emergency Alert System (CMAS). The National Weather Service can now send free weather warnings directly to your phone if a hazard is imminent in New Jersey. Check with your wireless carrier to see if your wireless phone is WEA (Wireless Emergency Alert) enabled to receive these messages.
NOAA Weather Radio
NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from a station nearest your location. NOAA Weather Radios are typically inexpensive, easily available in stores and can usually be programmed for your specific area. NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards
- Continue to monitor traditional media sources – TV, newspapers and radio – to stay informed of breaking news and continued coverage of emergency events.
- Find out if your community has a “reverse 9-1-1” system or if you can opt-in for email updates from municipal officials.
- Prepare yourself and your family by creating an Emergency Supply Kit and a Family Disaster Plan. See our Basic Preparedness page for more details.
- Your Kit includes items that will help you stay self-sufficient for up to three days, if needed.
- Your Plan includes evacuation plans, a place to reunite with loved ones, and an out-of-state contact person.
Track the weather with color-coded maps of New Jersey's real-time NWS weather forecasts:
- Stay Tuned: Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or your local radio and television stations for weather updates, Storm Watches or Warnings,and emergency instructions from public safety Officials.
- Remember: A battery-powered radio is a vital part of your Emergency Supply Kit. You can also track current weather conditions with links available on our Current Weather/Traffic Web page.
Find out if you are in a High Risk Area
If you live on a barrier island, a coastal community, a flood-prone area or amobile home park, you are at much greater risk during hurricane or tropical storm events.
You will likely be the first to receive an evacuation order when these storms are approaching New Jersey. You should plan accordingly.
- Barrier islands and coastal communities are extremely vulnerable to the storm surge - the dome of ocean water a hurricane or tropical storm pushes ahead of itself. The storm surge can devastate coastal areas as it sweeps ashore.
- Flood-prone areas are extremely vulnerable due to the thunderstorms and torrential rains that accompany a hurricane or tropical storm.
- Manufactured home parks, recreational vehicles and campground facilities are extremely vulnerable to the strong winds produced by a hurricane or tropical storm.
Know how you will Evacuate or Shelter-in-place
Local, county or State emergency management officials will notify your neighborhood through multiple communication channelsof the need to shelter-in-place or evacuate.
- Sheltering-in-Place: What it means; How to Shelter at Home, Work or School.
- Evacuate: What it means; What you will Need.
After Hurricane Andrew caused large-scale destruction in Florida in 1992, a team of experts examined homes that failed and homes that survived.
They found four areas that should be checked for vulnerability to strong winds: The roof, windows, doors and garage doors.
You can take measures to strengthen these parts of your home.
REMEMBER: Before making changes, check with your local building or planning officials to find out whether permits are required!
The roof of your house is most vulnerable to damage from high winds. Proper roof construction is essential. A small investment made before a storm hits can save thousands in future damage.
The connection between the roof and walls must be strong enough to resist the "uplift" effect of strong winds. Roof trusses or rafters should be tied properly to exterior walls with metal hurricane connectors or straps.
Have a building professional use specially designed metal connectors to attach the roof to wall plates, which are already well connected to wall studs.
You may choose instead to use metal strapping or connectors to tie the roof truss to both the wall top plate and the wall studs. Special connectors also are available to attach a roof to a masonry wall.
Gable-end roofs are more susceptible to damage from high winds than hip or flat roofs.
Bracing for trusses and rafters can add protection to your home. In choosing the appropriate connectors for your walls, check with lumber-supply outlets, a building professional or local building and planning officials.
Installing storm shutters over all exposed windows and other glass surfaces is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your home. Cover all windows, French doors, sliding glass doors and skylights.
There are many types of manufactured storm shutters available. Before installing shutters, check with local building officials to find out whether or not a permit is required.
Plywood shutters that you make yourself, if installed properly, can offer a high level of protection from flying debris during a hurricane. Plywood shutters can be installed on all types of homes.
If you have double-entry doors, one is active and one is inactive. Check to see how the fixed half is secured top and bottom. The bolts or pins that secure most doors are not strong enough to withstand hurricane winds.
Check with your local building supplies retailer to find out what kind of bolt system will work for your door. Doors with windows will need additional protection from flying debris.
Double-wide (two-car) garage doors can pose a problem during hurricanes. Because they are so large, they wobble as high winds blow and can pull out of their tracks or collapse from wind pressure.
Certain parts of the country have building codes requiring garage doors that withstand high winds. Some garage doors can be strengthened with retrofit kits. Check with your local building supplies dealer.
Mobile / Manufactured Home
Manufactured Homes require special precautions as they are particularly vulnerable to hurricane-force winds.
- Anchor your Manufactured Home with over-the-top, or frame, ties.
- Manufactured Home residents are likely to be ordered to evacuate well in advance of other residents in their area, because of the dangers posted by strong winds.
If ordered to evacuate by Public Safety Officials, take that order seriously and act IMMEDIATELY.
Before you leave, take the following precautions:
- Pack breakables in boxes and put them on the floor.
- Remove mirrors and tape them. Wrap mirrors and lamps in blankets and place them in the bathtub or shower.
- Install hurricane shutters or precut plywood on all windows.
- Shut off utilities and disconnect electricity, sewer and water lines. Shut off propane tanks and leave them outside after anchoring them securely.
- Store awnings, folding furniture, trashcans and other loose outdoor objects.
Pay Close Attention To Weather Forecasts
If a hurricane is possible, pay close attention to weather forecasts on local TV and radio stations and these SOURCES for New Jersey residents.
- Hurricanes And Tropical Storm Forecasts - National Hurricane Center
- New Jersey Specific Weather Forecasts, Watches And Warnings
These forecasts also allow public safety officials to make faster decisions about moving people to safety through evacuations or by providing other instructions.
Listen For Official Instructions
Follow official instructions IMMEDIATELY when they are announced.
Official instructions will be broadcast on local TV and radio stations. You may receive information about your specific location in the following ways:
- Reverse 9-1-1 or other community notification systems in your area.
- Public safety officers may announce the orders by driving through neighborhoods with bullhorns.
- You may also get instructions from local officials via their social media accounts and other digital methods messages that can be sent to your wireless phone. Our Staying Informed web page will provide more information about this.
While You Are Waiting To Receive Official Instructions
If a Hurricane or Tropical Storm is approaching but you have not received official instructions to Shelter-in-Place or Evacuate, take the following steps:
- Go over your Emergency Supply Kit and Family Disaster Plan
- Be prepared to Evacuate
- Prepare your home
- Know how to Shelter-in-Place
- Continue to monitor local TV and radio stations for weather information.
- Stay inside and away from windows.
- Keep your flashlights handy in case the power goes out.
- If power goes out, turn off all major appliances to avoid power surge damage when electricity returns.
- Be prepared to evacuate immediately if orders are issued for your neighborhood.
If you have evacuated, return home only after authorities advise it is safe to do so. Keep tuned to your local radio and TV stations and monitor social media for recovery information.
- Avoid downed and sagging power lines. Report them immediately to the Power Company, police or fire department.
- Be alert for driving restrictions. Avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges and roadways.
- Enter your home with caution. Follow directions provided by public safety officials.
- Beware of snakes, insects and other animals driven to higher ground by floodwater.
- Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
- Do not use candles or open flames indoors. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage.
- Check refrigerated foods for spoilage. You can read more information about keeping food safe during an emergency on the USDA Web site.
- Use telephone only for emergency calls.
- Inspect the utilities in your home.
For contact information for utilities all across the state, visit the NJ Board of Public Utilities Web site
- Check for gas leaks - If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can. Call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
- Look for electrical system damage - If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
- Check for sewage and water line damage - If you suspect sewage lines are damaged avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid water from the tap..
- Take pictures of the damage for insurance claims, and contact your service agent.
- Let a relative know you are back at home. Tell them how to get in touch with you, especially if phone service is out.
- Monitor the radio, TV and social media to learn how to apply for possible assistance, and to receivefurther official information.