Watches & Warnings

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Hurricane Watches & Warnings

The National Weather Service issues alerts that relate specifically to tropical storms and hurricanes. It’s important to know what each alert means.

  • Tropical Storm Watch - Tropical storm conditions with sustained winds from 39 to 73 mph are possible in your area within the next 36 hours (1.5 days).
  • Inland Tropical Storm Watch - Issued for interior counties when sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph associated with a tropical storm are possible within 36 hours (1.5 days).
  • Tropical Storm Warning - Tropical storm conditions are expected in your area within the next 24 hours (1 day).
  • Inland Tropical Storm Warning - Issued for interior counties when sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph associated with a tropical storm are expected within 24 hours (1 day).
  • Hurricane Watch - Hurricane conditions (sustained winds greater than 73 mph) are possible in your area within 36 hours (1.5 days).
  • Inland Hurricane Watch - Issued for interior counties when sustained winds of 74 mph or greater associated with a hurricane are possible within 36 hours (1.5 days).
  • Hurricane Warning - Hurricane conditions are expected in your area in 24 hours or less (less than 1 day).
  • Inland Hurricane Warning - Issued for interior counties that sustained winds of 74 mph or greater associated with a hurricane are expected within 24 hours (less than 1 day).
  • If you live near the ocean, you should also be aware of the following alerts:

  • Coastal Flood Watch - The possibility exists for the flooding of land areas along the coast within the next 12 to 36 hours.
  • Coastal Flood Warning - Land areas along the coast are expected to become, or have become, flooded by sea water above the typical tide action.
  • What do the red flags with black squares in the middle represent?

    These flags are usually seen during the hurricane season, flying from places such as U.S. Coast Guard stations, and some marinas. The flags date back to the days before radio storm warnings when such flags were the only way to warn those aboard ships of storms.

    One of the square flags warns mariners that a storm warning has been posted. A storm warning means winds between 48-63 knots (55-73 mph) are likely within 24 hours.

    Two flags mean a hurricane warning is in effect for winds equal or greater than 64 knots (74 mph) are likely within 24 hours.

    Pennants are also used to indicate additional marine advisories. One pennant indicates a small-craft advisory which alerts mariners that weather, potentially dangerous to small craft, is either occurring or is forecast. Dangerous conditions include rough seas and winds of 18-33 knots (28-32 mph). When two pennants are hoisted, one below the other, a gale warning is in effect and is issued when winds blow between 34 and 47 knots (39-54 mph).


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