Picture of Icy Roads in Atlanta

Tropical Cyclones

As a coastal state, Georgia is at risk for hurricanes that form in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Hurricanes can cause catostrophic damage even hundreds of miles inland, so every resident should understand their risks and plan what to do in the event of an evacuation.

Threats include storm surge, damaging winds, tornadoes, flooding and rip currents, high surf and beach erosion.


Tropical Cyclone Classification

  • Tropical Disturbance - discrete tropical system of clouds and thunderstorms lacking the attributes of a Tropical Depression and maintains its identity for 24 hours.  
  • Tropical  Depression - organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained surface winds of 38 mph or less. 
  • Tropical Storm - organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained surface winds of 39 to 73 mph.
  • Hurricane - intense tropical weather system of strong thunderstorms with a well-defined surface circulation and maximum sustained surface winds of 74 mph or greater.
  • Major Hurricane - Category 3, 4, or 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.

What's the official forecast for the Atlantic this year?

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 and lasts through November 30. The 2016 season started early with Hurricane Alex on January 14.  

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook predicts a near average level of activity this season.  


Watches and Warnings

Tropical Storm Warning is issued when tropical storm conditions when tropical storm conditions are expected within the specified area, usually within  36 hours.

Hurricane Watch is issued when hurricane conditions (winds greater than 73 mph) are possible in the specified area, usually within 48 hours. Prepare  to take immediate action.

Hurricane Warning is issued when hurricane conditions are expected, usually within 36 hours. Complete all storm preparation and evacuate if directed by local officials.  


Are You Ready?

While more named storms and hurricanes increase the odds, there is no strong correlation between the total number of storms or hurricanes and U.S. landfalls in any given season. Awareness and preparedness are important for all Georgians, so know your risk, make an emergency plan and stay aware.


Links for additional information