NOAA radar imagery captured hurricane Katrina's landfall in 2005. More Hurricane Katrina imagery...
- Typhoon - the Northwest Pacific Ocean west of the dateline
- Severe Tropical Cyclone - the Southwest Pacific Ocean west of 160E or Southeast Indian Ocean east of 90E
- Severe Cyclonic Storm - the North Indian Ocean
- Tropical Cyclone - the Southwest Indian Ocean
All tropical cyclones need warm oceans, moisture and light winds above them. If the right conditions last long enough, these tropical cyclones can become hurricanes, producing violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains and floods.
The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30. The East Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 through November 30, with peak activity occurring during July through September.
A HURRICANE WATCH is an announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
A HURRICANE WARNING is an announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
A TROPICAL STORM WATCH is an announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified coastal area within 48 hours.
A TROPICAL STORM WARNING is an announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area within 36 hours.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is used to measure the hurricane's present intensity, one through five. This is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf in the landfall region. Learn more...
In the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Pacific, the NOAA National Hurricane Center issues tropical cyclone warnings, watches, advisories, discussions and statements for tropical cyclones. The National Centers for Environmental Prediction Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (NCEP HPC) provides back-up for the National Hurricane Center.
In the Central Pacific, the NOAA Central Pacific Hurricane Center issues tropical cyclone warnings, watches, advisories, discussions and statements for all tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific from 140 degrees west longitude to the International Dateline.
NOAA Satellite Services Division -
provides real-time access to satellite data and products for the public
and government. The satellites provide NOAA scientists with tools to
monitor sea surface temperatures as well as development of tropical
NOAA WP-3 Orion aircraft. Learn more...
NOAA Aircraft Operations Center "Hurricane
Hunter" aircraft and their crews may be best known for their prowess
in flying through and around nature's severest storms over the Atlantic
Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. However, these flying meteorological
stations also prove their mettle on the West Coast and over the Pacific
Ocean--after hurricane season has ended and severe Pacific winter
storms have begun. Missions flown by the airplanes
of the Aircraft Operations Center support NOAA's mission
to promote global environmental assessment, prediction and stewardship
of the Earth's environment.
NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory’s mission is to conduct a basic and applied research program in oceanography, tropical meteorology, atmospheric and oceanic chemistry, and acoustics. The program seeks to understand the physical characteristics and processes of the ocean and the atmosphere, both separately and as a coupled system. The lab is home to the NOAA Hurricane Research Division.
NOAA’s National Weather Service local Weather Forecast Offices operate Doppler radars to track tropical cyclones as they approach the coast of the U.S. as well as monitoring weather conditions both at the surface and in the upper atmosphere. The Weather Forecast Offices provide a vital role during hurricane situations by taking the high level watch/warning and storm information issued by the Hurricane Centers and add local details and impact information.
The local Weather Forecast Offices issue Hurricane Local Statements which provide details of the storm's impact on the area such as the onset of winds, rainfall, storm surge, and preparedness actions. They also provide information on evacuation notices and location of emergency shelters, which is provided to them by local officials. The Weather Forecast Offices also closely coordinate with local, county and state emergency management and decision makers. In addition, the Weather Forecast Offices operate NOAA Weather Radio transmitters, providing 24 hour official weather information.
NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center operates and monitors weather and sea conditions from a network of offshore and coastal buoys.
NOAA’s National Ocean Service Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) collects and distributes observations and predictions of water levels and storm tides. The Center manages the National Water Level Observation Network (NWLON), and a national network of Physical Oceanographic Real-Time Systems (PORTS) in major U.S. harbors.
NOAA’s Hydrologic Information Center monitors flooding and river conditions, issuing flood outlooks and summaries.