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Tropical cyclone track forecast cone and watch/warning example from Hurricane Irene (2011).
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Hurricane and Tropical Storm Watches, Warnings, Advisories and Outlooks

Whenever a tropical depression, tropical storm, or hurricane has formed, the NOAA National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues tropical cyclone advisory products every 6 hours at 5 am, 11 am, 5 pm, and 11 pm EDT. The Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC) issues tropical cyclone advisory products at least every 6 hours at 5 am, 11 am, 5 pm, and 11 pm HST, during an active cyclone. When coastal tropical storm or hurricane watches or warnings are in effect, the NHC and CPHC issues Tropical Cyclone Public advisories every 3 hours. You can find these products on www.hurricanes.gov or www.weather.gov/cphc for the Central Pacific; on TV, radio, cell phones and other computers; and NOAA Weather Radio. Information on major NHC products is detailed below. For more details on all NHC products, see the National Hurricane Center Product User's Guide.

Warnings

Listen closely to instructions from local officials on TV, radio, cell phones or other computers for instructions from local officials. Evacuate immediately if told to do so.

  • Hurricane Warning: Take Action! Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are expected somewhere within the specified area. NHC issues a hurricane warning 36 hours in advance of tropical storm-force winds to give you time to complete your preparations.
  • Tropical Storm Warning: Take Action! Tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected within your area within 36 hours.
  • Extreme Wind Warning: Take Action Now! Extreme sustained winds of a major hurricane (115 mph or greater), usually associated with the eyewall, are expected to begin within an hour. Take immediate shelter in the interior portion of a well-built structure.

Watches

Listen closely to instructions from local officials on TV, radio, cell phones or other computers for instructions from local officials. Evacuate if told to do so.

  • Hurricane Watch: Be Prepared! Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are possible within your area. Because it may not be safe to prepare for a hurricane once winds reach tropical storm force, The NHC issues hurricane watches 48 hours before it anticipates tropical storm-force winds.
  • Tropical Storm Watch: Be Prepared! Tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified area within 48 hours.

Advisories
  • Tropical Cyclone Public Advisory: The Tropical Cyclone Public Advisory contains a list of all current watches and warnings on a tropical or subtropical cyclone. It also provides the cyclone position, maximum sustained winds, current motion, and a description of the hazards associated with the tropical cyclone.
  • Tropical Cyclone Track Forecast Cone: This graphic shows areas under tropical storm and hurricane watches and warnings, and the current position of the center of the tropical cyclone and its predicted track. Forecast uncertainty is conveyed on the graphic by a “cone” (white and stippled areas) drawn such that the center of the storm will remain within the cone about 60 to 70 percent of the time. Remember, a tropical cyclone is NOT a point. The effects of a tropical storm or hurricane can span hundreds of miles. Areas well outside of the cone often experience impacts such as heavy rain and flooding.

Outlooks
  • Tropical Weather Outlook: The Tropical Weather Outlook is a discussion of significant areas of disturbed weather and their potential for development during the next 5 days. The Outlook includes a categorical forecast of the probability of tropical cyclone formation during the first 48 hours and during the entire 5-day forecast period. You can also find graphical versions of the 2-day and 5-day Outlook at www.hurricanes.gov and www.weather.gov/cphc

NWS Local Forecast Office Tropical Products
  • Hurricane Local Statement: Take Action! Local NWS offices in areas affected by a tropical cyclone issue Hurricane Local Statements to keep the public, local decision makers, and the media current on potential storm impacts in their area. The HLS contains essential hurricane or tropical storm information in a condensed form. The HLS also expands on the storm’s potential effects on your local area by detailing actions local emergency managers are asking you to take, such as areas being evacuating certain areas.
  • Tropical Cyclone Threats and Impact Graphics: These graphics provide a threat assessment in terms of potential hazard impacts within an NWS local office's area of responsibility. The assessment scheme takes into account the forecast magnitude of the hazard, along with the associated uncertainty of the forecast. Graphics showing potential impacts from wind, coastal flooding, inland flooding, and tornadoes are produced.