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Hurricanes And Tropical Storms

Tropical disturbances, tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes are all different types of tropical cyclones, classified by their maximum sustained surface wind speed. Tropical cyclones are rotating low-pressure systems that form over warm tropical water.

Tropical storms and hurricanes are among the most dangerous risks to Duval County. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th, with the peak occurring between mid- August and late October. However, storms can form at any time throughout the year.
Before A Storm
Planning and preparing before a hurricane strikes can help you manage the impact of high winds and floodwaters. Take the steps outlined below to keep you and your family safe while protecting your home and property. If you are a renter, talk with your landlord or property manager about additional steps you can take.

Protect Your Property
Minimize Financial Hardship
Organize Disaster Supplies
Plan To Be Safe
Prepare Your Business

Protect Your Property

One dollar invested in protecting your home can save up to six dollars in damage expenses. Wind, flood, and storm surge are three hazards that are common to coastal and river communities. Below are some things you can do to address these hazards:

Wind: ​
  • Consider installing storm shutters for all large windows and glass doors
  • Consider a new roof with hurricane-rated shingles
  • Make sure roof is fastened to the structure with hurricane straps or clips
  • Install head and foot bolts on double-entry doorways
  • Use a security deadbolt with one-inch minimum bolt on all exterior doors
  • Consider a hurricane-resistant or reinforced garage door
Flood and Storm Surge
  • Keep gutters and drains free of debris
  • Stockpile emergency protective materials
  • Elevate water heater, electric panel, and heating/cooling systems if susceptible to flooding
  • Dry Floodproofing, which means making a building watertight through the use of waterproof membranes, backflow valves, and other measures
  • Wet Floodproofing, which means modifying uninhabited portions of your home to allow floodwaters to enter and exit
Minimize Financial Hardship

Financial preparedness is critical. Take time to organize your financial documents and keep extra copies with your supply kit.

Insure your property: Contact your insurance agent and ensure you are covered for hurricane related hazards. Floods are the most common and costly natural disaster, so it’s important to have the right coverage. Homeowners and renters insurance usually don’t cover flood damage.  Flood insurance must be purchased separately! PLEASE NOTE: a flood insurance policy generally takes effect 30 days after purchase. Do not wait until the last minute to obtain this coverage!
  • Protect your home or business with flood insurance: Call the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at 1-800-427-4661 or visit fema.gov/flood-insurance to obtain insurance.  

Understand your flood risk 
Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States. With many low-lying areas, the St.
Johns River, and other waterways, Duval County is always at risk for flooding regardless of whether
a tropical cyclone is affecting our area.  Make an inventory of your personal assets and keep it in a safe, dry place. If possible, take photos and video of your belongings and keep them with you during the event of an emergency.

Be sure that you keep cash on hand as power outages may prevent access to ATMs and may limit the use of credit/debit cards.

Organize Disaster Supplies

Your emergency supply kit should have enough supplies to last three days for every person in your family, including a plan for yearly maintenance. For a list of suggested items to include in your kit, visit this hyperlink.

Plan To Be Safe

Planning ahead is the best way to stay safe from disasters. Plan for all hazards that could affect you,
especially large-scale disasters like hurricanes. Every family is unique, so be sure to consider everyone’s needs. Get together with your family and review your plan every year. Some things to consider are:
  • Who is your out-of-town contact?
  • Does your plan incorporate your entire household?
  • Have you shared your plan with others?
  • What is your escape plan?
  • Where will you meet?
  • How will you communicate with your family in the event of an emergency
. Prepare Your Business
  • Create a Continuity of Operations Plan (view our template at this hyperlink), and document employee responsibilities and roles before a hurricane strikes and review with each employee.
  • Conduct a drill to ensure staff members comprehend their roles and test your emergency plans. Follow up with an after-action report and lessons-learned session.
  • Contact your vendors to understand their preparedness plans and how a disaster will impact your supply chain.
  • Move computers and other Information Technology (IT) systems away from large windows and doors.
  • Relocate valuables and IT systems to the upper level of your facility or to a more secure location if needed.
  • Ensure vital records are protected: analyze your off-site backup record storage, place valuable documentation and digital storage media in a waterproof, fireproof box.
  • Explore purchasing a flood insurance policy for your business.

Evacuate Or Shelter In Place
Below are some preparation tips when a hurricane or tropical storm is expected:
  • Review your family emergency plan.
  • Check for weather updates regularly on your TV, radio, or online.
  • Bring loose, lightweight objects indoors, such as patio furniture and garbage cans.
  • Purchase supplies to board-up windows if you do not have storm shutters.
  • Refill prescription medications.
  • Trim or remove trees that are close enough to fall and cause damage to your home or property.
  • Anchor objects that are unsafe to bring indoors.
  • Gas and service your vehicles.
If a storm is expected to impact the Jacksonville area and you are in a Mandatory Evacuation Zone, take action immediately. If you are not in a Mandatory Evacuation Zone, you may choose to stay in your home. Keep in mind; you may only need to travel a short distance to safely evacuate. Moving to a non-evacuation zone may be sufficient. To check what Evacuation Zone you are located in, visit this hyperlink
If You Decide To Evacuate
I-95 and I-10 are the main evacuation routes out of the county. Beaches residents and visitors should connect from the Wonderwood Expressway, Atlantic Boulevard, Beach Boulevard, and J. Turner Butler Boulevard to reach I-95 and I-10. Evacuation routes may be crowded, so plan ahead. Fore more information about Duval County Evacuation Routes, visit this hyperlink

Final actions if evacuating:
  • Turn off propane tanks and gas.
  • Turn off power at main electrical panel using the main switch to flip all circuit breakers to the "off" position.
  • Turn off the main water valve at the street or inside your unit if an apartment or condominium.
  • Secure all doors and windows.
  • Take your emergency supply kit with you. 
Transportation Assistance
If you need transportation assistance to evacuate, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) will
suspend fares for evacuation routes. If you plan to evacuate, be ready to evacuate early as these services
will stop as conditions deteriorate.
  • JTA will operate on a Sunday schedule for normal routes.
  •  All fixed route bus and First Coast Flyer BRT stops will become evacuation pick-up points to transport individuals to hubs.
  • Residents needing to evacuate can take any bus marked “Evacuation Shuttle” on a regular bus route before the announced cut-off time.
  • Residents can also go to any one of the four designated pick-up locations to be transported to a transfer hub, where you will then change buses to be transported to a public shelter:
More information about this service can be found at this hyperlink or by calling (904) 630-3100.

Evacuation Shelters
Evacuation shelters are a refuge of last resort and should only be considered if you need to evacuate
and have no other options. If you can safely shelter in place, stay with friends or family, or stay in a hotel, it is recommended that you do so.

If your only option is to stay at a shelter you should, bathe, and eat before securing your home and
relocating. Citizens are encouraged to bring their own food, pillows, and bedding. Do not bring any
valuables with you. Smoking and alcohol consumption are not permitted at any shelter. Additionally,
childcare is not provided at any shelter; you are required to supervise your children.

For additional information about Duval County Evacuation Shelters, visit this hyperlink

If You Decide To Stay
Keep in mind that you may not be able to leave your home for several days. Emergency responders
may not be able to get to you if conditions are poor. Frequently check for weather updates on your TV,
radio, or online.

Final actions if staying:
  • Move your vehicle to higher ground, a garage, or another safe location.
  • Fully charge your cell phone and other devices in case you lose power. 
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings and only open when necessary.
  • Close storm shutters and stay away from windows and exterior doors.

After A Storm
If you evacuated, wait for public officials to announce that it is safe before you return home. Each year, there are a significant number of injuries while cleaning up after a storm. Consider the following tips to stay safe after a storm.
  • Avoid Driving: If you evacuated, wait for public officials to announce that it is safe before you return home. Each year, there are a significant number of injuries while cleaning up after a storm. Consider the following tips to stay safe after a storm.
  • Avoid Floodwaters: Avoid driving or wading through floodwaters as they may be electrically charged, contain dangerous debris, or be covering places where the ground has washed away.
  • Check for Danger: Check the outside of your home for loose powerlines, gas leaks, or structural damage. Do not enter a building until it has been inspected.
  • Protect Yourself: Wear appropriate protective gear, such as gloves and masks, to shield yourself from debris and airborne hazards.
  • Prevent Further Damage: Do what you can to prevent further damage to your home, such as placing a tarp over a hole in the roof or covering a broken window.
  • Avoid Electrical Equipment: Do not use electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. 
For additional information about what to do after a storm, visit our Recovering from a Disaster page
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based only on a hurricane's maximum sustained wind speed. This scale does not take into account other potentially deadly hazards such as storm surge, rainfall flooding, and tornadoes.


Hurricane Symbol #1
Wind Speed 74-95 mph
Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding, and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap, and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled.
Hurricane Symbol #2
Wind Speed 96-110 mph
Well-constructed framed homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads.
Hurricane Symbol #3
Wind Speed 111-129 mph
Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking, and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads.
Hurricane Symbol #4
Wind Speed 130-156 mph
Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas.
Hurricane Symbol #5
Wind Speed 157+ mph
A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas.
Tropical Weather Alerts
Tropical Storm or Hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours in the Watch area. Monitor alerts, check your emergency supplies, and gather any items you may need if you lose power.
Tropical Storm or Hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours in the Warning area. During a Warning, complete your storm preparations and leave the area if directed to do so by local officials.