Though the national hurricane season normally runs from June 1 through November 30, the peak potential for hurricane and tropical storm activity in New Jersey runs from mid-August through the end of October.
The combination of warm ocean water, humid air, and consistent winds contribute to the formation of “tropical cyclones” – low-pressure systems of circulating winds, clouds and thunderstorms – over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.
As they gain strength, these cyclones are classified as tropical depressions, tropical storms or hurricanes. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale rates hurricane strengths, from Category 1 to Category 5. Most of these storms remain over the ocean without affecting the U.S. coastline. When they approach land, tropical storms and hurricanes can be extremely deadly and destructive – even as far north as New Jersey, and even when they do not make landfall here.
The key threats from an approaching tropical storm or hurricane are wind, storm, surge, flooding, and the potential for tornadoes.
Hurricane winds can reach 74-95 mph for a Category 1 storm, to above 157 mph for a Category 5 storm.
The storm surge is an abnormal rise in seawater level as the storm's winds push water onshore. At its peak, a storm surge can be 25 feet high or more and 50-100 miles wide. The storm surge can devastate coastal communities as it sweeps ashore.
The thunderstorms and torrential rains that accompany a hurricane can create dangerous and deadly floods or flash floods.
70% of hurricanes making landfall spawn at least one tornado.
Preparing properly for a hurricane begins long before a storm ever hits.
Be ready for hurricane season with these tips from the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management
NJ Register Ready
If you are a citizen with special needs, call 2-1-1 or visit NJ Register Ready to provide information that will help emergency responders to better plan to serve you in times of emergency.
Before a Hurricane
The first line of defense against the effects of a disaster is personal preparedness. During an emergency, the government and other agencies may not be able to meet your needs. It is important for all citizens to make their own emergency plans and prepare for their own care and safety in an emergency.
- Your Kit includes items that will help you stay self-sufficient for up to three days if needed such as, canned food, bottled water, first-aid kit, battery operated flashlight and radio, blanket, and manual can opener.
- Your Plan includes evacuation plans, a place to reunite with loved ones, and an out-of-state contact person.
Store important documents and irreplaceable personal objects (such as photographs) where they won't get damaged. If major flooding is a possibility, consider putting them in a storage facility.
Read FEMA's Homeowners’ Checklist for Avoiding Hurricane Damage.
Make plans to secure your property.
- Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
- Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
- Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Determine how and where to secure your boat if you own one.
- Consider building a safe room.
- Anchor things that would be unsafe to bring inside, such as grills or propane tanks.
- Consider installing a sump pump with a battery backup.
If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:
- Listen to the radio or TV for information.
- Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
- Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
- Turn off propane tanks.·Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
- Move your boat, if time permits.
- Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.
- Keep flashlights and batteries handy.
- Keep your pets with you, and be sure to bring additional food and water supplies for them.
You should evacuate under the following conditions:
- If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
- If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure—such shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes no matter how well fastened to the ground.
- If you live in a high-rise building—hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
- If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an inland waterway.
- If you feel you are in danger.
During a Hurricane
If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:
- Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
- Close all interior doors—secure and brace external doors.
- Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm - winds will pick up again.
- Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level. Please note that if there is flooding danger, you would need to move above ground level.
- Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
The Red Cross sets up shelters for people who must evacuate. Find a Red Cross shelter.
Plan for Pet Care If you are evacuated, you need to bring your pets with you but pets are typically not allowed to stay at a shelter. The NJ Department of Agriculture recommends that you ask a dependable friend or relative who lives some distance from the evacuation area if you and your pets can stay with them until the all-clear is given. An alternative is to find a pet-friendly hotel. Learn what you can do to prepare for emergencies and protect your pet.
Statewide Preparedness Efforts
Helpnjnow.org is a dynamic, interactive web-based resource providing education, direction, information and tools for people to help themselves and others in a disaster. When there is no active disaster in the state, the website provides information about how to prepare for future disasters, including how you can become a certified disaster volunteer. When a disaster strikes, the site will offer guidance on where donations are needed (monetary and material), where people can volunteer and a link to NJ 211 so that you can find assistance for disaster-related needs.
Become involved through Volunteerism via CERT
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members give critical support to first responders in emergencies, provide immediate assistance to victims, organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site, and collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts. New Jersey boasts the largest CERT contingent in the nation with 12,000 members and growing. Become a part of the CERT team today by contacting your county CERT coordinator.
We encourage you to read through the “Hurricane Survival Guide for New Jersey,” published by the NJ Office of Emergency Management, 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.
The FEMA site offers many helpful guides devoted to preparing, responding and recovering from hurricanes. Take time to learn more by visiting these FEMA web pages.
To ensure that everyone has the tools necessary to get ready in the event of a hurricane visiting your area, FEMA and the American Red Cross has put together a guide containing crucial disaster preparedness information for those with special needs and disabilities.
Hurricane Preparedness Tips for Parents from Save the Children's emergency experts guide parents on how to protect your children from distress during and after disasters.