The Hurricane Cone & You

Those of us who live along the Florida Gulf Coast should track every Atlantic hurricane or tropical storm. When a storm forms, you will hear weather forecasters talk about the "forecast cone." The cone represents the probable track of the center of a storm. A "5-day cone" and "3-day cone" are created to show the forecast path of the center of the storm with as much as a 300-mile "cone of uncertainty." Because the storm could track anywhere within the cone, everyone in the cone area needs to begin storm preparations.

Don't Wait

The most important thing to remember is to do as much as you can before a hurricane warning is issued, even before a storm ever enters the Gulf of Mexico. Waiting until the warning is issued will only give you about 24 hours to complete preparations and evacuate if necessary. We must remember that hurricane forecasting is not an exact science and they don't always go where predicted.

Hurricane Katrina path
  1. Actions to Take Before the Cone
  2. Plan to Leave If
  3. 5-Day Cone Actions
  4. 3-Day Cone Actions
  5. Hurricane Watch Actions
  6. Hurricane Warning Actions
  7. If You Decide to Stay
  • Make a family plan. Don't forget special plans for the elderly, handicapped, children and pets.
  • Make an emergency supply kit including a three to 14 day supply of nonperishable foods and water.
  • Know your evacuation zone.
  • Understand "Watch" and "Warning" terms.
  • Purchase a NOAA weather radio.
  • Trim trees and shrubs around your home.
  • Make plans to secure your property. Permanent storm shutters are best. A second option is to purchase plywood and plastic sheeting. Board up windows and doors, especially patio doors, with 5/8" marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Protect your property by bracing double entry and garage doors.
  • Fill your vehicle's gas tank and check oil, water and tires. Remember, gas pumps don't work without electricity.
  • Identify a safe area in your home - an interior room, closet, hallway, or bathroom on the lowest floor.
  • Inventory, document, and photograph items in your residence or business.
  • Refill prescriptions. Maintain at least a one-month supply during hurricane season. Report blocked or overgrown stormwater ditches.