ABC’s of Hurricane Watches/Warnings, Categories, & Tropical Storms/Depressions

By Patrick Farrell July 29, 2011

Hurricane Tips for Boaters

If you are a water-state boat owner, then you may already be accustomed to the all of the hysteria that surrounds the hurricane season. Below are simple explanations of what each “category,” “watch,” and “warning” really mean.

Hurricane watch” – Warns you that a hurricane could hit your area within the next 24-36 hours.

Hurricane warning” – Means hurricane is expected to reach your area within 24 hours. Note: If the hurricane takes an unexpected turn, these warnings may only come hours in advance.

Hurricanes are divided into five “categories” based on wind-speed. The category scale starts at one (least severe) and goes up to five (most severe).

Category I

Description: Very dangerous winds will cause some damage.

-Wind-speed: 74-95 mph.

-Storm surge: 4-5 ft.

Category II

Description: Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage.

-Wind-speed: 96-110 mph.

-Storm surge: 6-8 ft.

Category III

Description: Devastating damage will occur.

-Wind-speed: 111-130 mph.

-Storm surge: 9-12 ft.

Category IV

Description: Catastrophic damage will occur.

-Wind-speed: 131-155 mph.

-Storm surge: 13-18 ft.

Category V

Description: Catastrophic damage will occur.

-Wind-speed: 156 mph. (or more)

-Storm surge: 19 ft. (or over)

Basically any level hurricane poses a serious threat to your watercraft. In addition there are a few other severe weather classifications to be aware of.

Tropical depression – A storm that usually intensifies slowly with some rotary circulation at the surface and wind speeds up to 36 mph.

Tropical storm – A storm accompanied with intense rainfall and has a distinct rotary circulation at the surface and wind speeds up to 73 mph.

Next in the series, are exact steps that you should take to ensure the safety of your watercraft in the event that a storm is headed in your direction.

**Did you know?? Once a storm has been “named” you are no longer able to purchase insurance for your boat in that area. **

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