Hurricane hazards

A hurricane can combine storm surge, powerful winds, tornadoes and torrential rains into a devastating combination.

By Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council
Published May 29, 2005

Storm surge

Storm surge is an abnormal rise in sea level 50 to 100 miles wide that sweeps across the coast near the location of a hurricane's landfall. The surge of high water, topped by waves, is devastating. Along the immediate coast, storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property. Most hurricane-related deaths are caused by drowning.


Hurricane force winds, 74 mph or more, can destroy buildings and mobile homes. Debris can become flying missiles in hurricanes. Winds often stay above hurricane strength well inland. If you do not have to evacuate, it is important to secure your home and cover your windows before the storm. Remember, mobile homes are extremely vulnerable to high winds and should be evacuated regardless of location in the county.

Heavy rains/floods

Widespread torrential rains often in excess of 10 inches can produce destructive floods. This is a major threat to areas well inland.


Hurricanes also produce tornadoes, which add to the hurricane's destructive power.

Safe area

Is there a closet or small inside room in your home, such as a laundry room, pantry or bathroom, that could become a safe haven during a tornado or hurricane? Taking refuge in such spaces lets the outer rooms buffer you from the storm by protecting your family if debris penetrates the outer walls. To find out how to build a FEMA tornado safe room or fortify an existing room to FEMA standards, go online to www.fema.gov or call toll-free 1-877-221-7233.