Severe Weather Procedures


Hurricanes are destructive storms with sustained winds of more than 74 miles per hour. Winds can flatten homes, topple trees and turn loose objects into deadly projectiles. The storm's driving winds and torrential rains can cause massive and dangerous flooding in low-lying and poor-drainage areas. Hurricane season lasts from June to November and New York City is most at risk between August and October.

  1. When a Hurricane Watch is announced, it means a hurricane may affect New York City within 36 hours of the announcement. The City of New York would activate its Emergency Operations Center on a 24-hour basis at the Office of Emergency Management.
  2. Listen to local media (television and radio) for instructions.
  3. Find out if you live in one of New York City's hurricane evacuation zones. Residents of an evacuation zone would have to follow special procedures if a hurricane seems likely to make landfall near New York City. Evacuees would need to seek shelter farther inland, with friends or family outside of the storm surge area. During a Hurricane Watch, residents should think carefully about where they would go if evacuation instructions were issued.
  4. Prepare to be self-sufficient for at least three days without help or emergency services. Assume that many of the streets and stores in your neighborhood will be closed. Disruptions to electricity, gas, water or telephone service may also occur.


Though infrequent, tornadoes have occurred in New York City. In October 1985, an F1 tornado touched town in Queens, injuring six people. In August 1990, an F0 tornado struck Staten Island, injuring three people. And in October 1995, a more intense F1 tornado struck Staten Island again, causing some property damage, but no injuries.

  1. Go to the basement or the lowest point in a building. If an underground shelter is not available, move to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and get under a sturdy piece of furniture. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
  2. Stay away from windows.
  3. Get out of automobiles.
  4. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car; leave it immediately for safe shelter.
  5. If you cannot find shelter, take cover in a ditch or other recessed area and cover your head with your hands. Do NOT take cover under an overpass or bridge.
  6. Avoid places with wide-span roofs, such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways or shopping malls.
  7. Watch out for fallen power lines and stay away from damaged areas.
  8. Listen to the radio for information and instructions.