Hurricane Season

Hurricane Season begins June 1st
Posted on 05/16/2024
Hurricane Isabel 2003
Hurricane Isabel 

Hurricane Isabel creeps closer to the US east coast in this true-color Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image taken by the Terra satellite on September 17, 2003 at 11:09 am, US Eastern time. Though downgraded to a powerful Category 2 hurricane, Isabel was packing sustained winds of 110 miles per hour. The storm is about 400 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in this image. Source:
Photo via Public Domain

"Isabel was the worst hurricane to affect the Chesapeake Bay region since 1933. Storm surge values of more than 8 feet flooded rivers that flowed into the Bay across Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. Isabel brought tropical storm force gusts as far north as New York State as it moved inland. The most intense hurricane of the 2003 season directly resulted in 17 deaths and more than 3 billion dollars* in damages. The large wind field toppled trees and cut power to more than four million customers."  -Source

Hurricane Season is from June 1st to November 30th. 
Now is the time to make preparations and know what to do in case of an emergency. 

Typically in our region most hurricanes arrive late August through September but hurricanes can be unpredictable as in the case of  Hurricane Ivan in 2004.  On September 14, 2004 Ivan entered through the Gulf of Mexico making landfall in the United States in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It then headed northward through the inland southern States turning east to hit the Delmarva peninsula. Ivan then headed back south through the Atlantic Ocean and re-entered the Gulf of Mexico making landfall again in Louisiana before blowing itself out 25 days after it had formed as a major storm dumping 10-15 inches of rain and causing an estimated  $14.2 billion in the U.S.,  the third largest total on record.

It's best to be prepared and have a plan in place before the eye-wall is upon us.
We've cultivated a list of resources to help you get prepared; everything from a basic supply list, evacuation routes, where to shelter, hurricane category terms, storm surge maps, boating precautions and other tips to help you and your family stay safe this Hurricane Season.

For more information, be sure to pick up the Hurricane Survival Guide of the Eastern Shore of Virginia and the Northampton County Disaster Preparedness z-card available in the information kiosks in the County Administration building at 16404 Courthouse Rd. Eastville, Virginia. 


The Northampton County Emergency Services page is a great place to start. Links to their website can be found on this page as well as information about the Department of Emergency Management. Citizens can sign up for Citizen Alert.

Northampton County uses Everbridge to immediately contact you during a major crisis or emergency. Northampton Alert delivers important emergency alerts, notifications and updates to you on all your devices:

  • E-mail account (work, home, other)
  • Cell phone (via SMS)
  • Pager
  • BlackBerry/Smartphone

Citizen Alert Notification Sign Up

Here are some other great resources to get you started: 

From the Department of Homeland Security

Hurricane Readiness Guide from A & N Electric Cooperative

Downloadable web versions of the Northampton County Disaster Preparedness card and the Eastern Shore Disaster Preparedness Coalition "Guide to Preparing You and Your Family for All Hazards"  are also great to have in hand. 



A hurricane tracking chart can be used to track the course of a hurricane. If there are power outages a battery powered radio can still be used to get information about the hurricane's location. Coordinates are given and can be charted on a map similar to this one from NOAA and the National Hurricane Center: 

2017 Atlantic Hurricane TrackingChart

Printable versions can be found at the National Hurricane Center website.

How to Do It

1. The location of a hurricane on a particular date and time is described by the latitude and longitude of the storm’s center, called the “eye.” Latitude measures how far north or south a location is from the equator, and longitude measures how far east or west a location is from a line that goes from the North Pole to the South Pole, passing through Greenwich, England. On the “Atlantic Basin Hurricane Tracking Chart,” latitude is shown by horizontal lines and longitude is shown by vertical lines. Latitude and longitude are measured in degrees. Hurricane coordinates are given in pairs, with latitude written before longitude. So, the location of Bermuda would be written as: 32.3°N,64.7°W. The “N” means that the location is north of the equator, and the “W” means that the location is west of Greenwich, England.

2. To plot the location of a storm:
(a) Find the latitude of the storm (the first coordinate in the pair), and locate the horizontal line on the map that matches this latitude.
(b) Find the longitude (the second coordinate in the pair, usually followed by a W or E), and locate the vertical line on the map that matches this longitude.
(c) Find the place on the map where the two lines intersect. This is the location of the storm eye. Draw the symbol for a hurricane or a tropical storm (depending upon the kind of storm you are tracking)at this spot, and write the date and time next to the symbol.

3. Try plotting the track of one or more famous hurricanes. You are now ready to plot real storms during the next hurricane season! You can get coordinates from NOAA Weather Radio-All Hazards, newspapers, or from  
-Courtesy of

Hurricane Category Terms Explained

Storm systems have different terms depending on the wind speed. Residents may hear we are in a 'watch' or a 'warning.' 

Advisory Definition

Tropical Storm Watch: Wind speeds of 39-73 mph are possible within 48 hours
Tropical Storm Warning:  Wind speeds of 39-73 mph are expected within 36 hours
Hurricane Watch: Wind speeds of 74+ mph are possible within 48 hours
Hurricane Warning:  Wind speeds of 74+ mph are expected within 36 hours

"The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane's sustained wind speed. This scale estimates potential property damage. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage. Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous, however, and require preventative measures. In the western North Pacific, the term "super typhoon" is used for tropical cyclones with sustained winds exceeding 150 mph."

 Category  Sustained Winds Types of Damage 
 1  74-95 mph
64-82 kt
119-153 km/h
 Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.
 2  96-110 mph
83-95 kt
154-177 km/h
 Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.
 111-129 mph
96-112 kt
178-208 km/h
 Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.
 130-156 mph
113-136 kt
209-251 km/h
 Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
 157 mph or higher
137 kt or higher
252 km/h or higher
 Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.


This is a 15 minutes instructional video highlighting the new experimental Decision Support Dashboard providing new detailed point forecasts from the National Weather Service.


Storm Surge

"Along the coast, storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane. In the past, large death tolls have resulted from the rise of the ocean associated with many of the major hurricanes that have made landfall."

Storm Surge in Wachapreague, VA

Hurricane Sandy was occurring on Oct. 29, 2012 near the Wachapreague Marina , Wachapreague Va. This road sign seems to be well placed because the road next to it was covered from storm surge waters.
Credit: Betty Flowers via

On the Eastern Shore, where we are surrounded on three sides by water, storm surge is a major concern as water is being forced toward the shore by high winds. High tides and coastal flooding could be catastrophic for our area. For a better understanding of what a storm surge is and what it can do, please see the NOAA Storm Surge page. 

Know Your Zone

Residents may be asked to evacuate before the oncoming storm.  If the Eastern Shore is facing a Category 3 or higher, it's safe to say evacuation will be mandated for most residents. You may be asked to evacuate depending on which zone you live in.

"Evacuation zones designated A through D are in place across coastal Virginia. In the event of a storm or other emergency, residents of one or more zones may be directed to evacuate depending on tides, storm intensity, path, and other factors." 

Go to Know Your Zone to find your designated zone. 

Evacuation Routes

The evacuation route for the Eastern Shore of Virginia is US 13 North. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is NOT an evacuation route. 

Evacuation Routes for Hampton Roads

For a larger view please click on the image.

As wind speeds pick up, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel will come under wind restrictions. In some cases this might mean the bridge is closed to all traffic. Keep in mind, if a mandatory evacuation is called for, the CBBT is NOT an evacuation route for the Eastern Shore of Virginia. 
Please visit CBBT Travel Information for up to date information on any wind restrictions for the CBBT. 

For more information about evacuation routes please visit the Virginia Emergency Hurricane Evacuation Guide.


The Eastern Shore of Virginia 9-1-1 Commission and the Emergency Operations Center provide information about when and where to shelter.

"Shelters will be open on an "as needed" basis.
Shelter openings will be announced on local radio stations. You cannot enter a shelter until it is open.
During a wind related event, such as a Hurricane, Northampton County will not open any shelters.
All Northampton County residents will be directed to an Accomack County shelter,
Nandua Middle School in Onley, VA  will probably be the shelter utilized, once they open."


Supply List

This is an extensive list  from which has been recreated here for your convenience.

Hurricane Safety Checklists
The most important thing you can do as hurricane season approaches is to get yourself, your family and your home prepared.
By starting early, you’ll avoid the rush at home supply stores, grocery stores and other venues typically crowded and often chaotic when hurricane watches and warnings are issued.
You should stock six basics for your home: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items. Keep the items you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to carry container. Possible containers include a large, covered trash container, a camping backpack, or a duffle bag.
Make your preparations easier by downloading the checklists included with each category and use them as you shop and store your supplies.

Food and Water

• Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need more.
• Store one gallon of water per person per day.
• Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person (two quarts for drinking, two quarts for each person in your household for food preparation/sanitation).
Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water. If you must heat food, pack a can of Sterno. Select food items that are compact and lightweight. Include a selection of the following foods in your Disaster Supplies Kit:
• Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables
• Canned juices
• Staples (salt, sugar, pepper, spices, etc.)
• High energy foods
• Vitamins
• Food for infants
• Comfort/stress foods

First Aid and Non-Prescription Drugs

First Aid Kit
Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car.
• (20) adhesive bandages, various sizes.
• (1) 5″ x 9″ sterile dressing.
• (1) conforming roller gauze bandage.
• (2) triangular bandages.
• (2) 3 x 3 sterile gauze pads.
• (2) 4 x 4 sterile gauze pads.
• (1) roll 3″ cohesive bandage.
• (2) germicidal hand wipes or waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• (6) antiseptic wipes.
• (2) pair large medical grade non-latex gloves.
• Adhesive tape, 2″ width.
• Anti-bacterial ointment.
• Cold pack.
• Scissors (small, personal).
• Tweezers.
• CPR breathing barrier, such as a face shield.
Non-Prescription Drugs
• Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
• Anti-diarrhea medication
• Antacid (for stomach upset)
• Laxative
• Activated charcoal

Tools and Supplies

• Mess kits, or paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils
• Emergency preparedness manual
• Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• Cash and/or change
• Non-electric can opener, utility knife
• Fire extinguisher: small canister ABC type
• Tube tent
• Pliers
• Tape
• Compass
• Lighter or matches in a waterproof container
• Aluminum foil
• Plastic storage containers
• Signal flare
• Paper, pencil
• Needles, thread
• Medicine dropper
• Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
• Whistle
• Plastic sheeting
• List of local shelters

Sanitation, Clothing and Bedding

• Toilet paper, towelettes
• Soap, liquid detergent
• Feminine supplies
• Personal hygiene items
• Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)
• Plastic bucket with tight lid
• Disinfectant
• Household chlorine bleach

Clothing and Bedding
Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person.
• Sturdy shoes or work boots
• Rain gear
• Blankets or sleeping bags
• Hat and gloves
• Thermal underwear*
• Sunglasses
*REMINDER: The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs through November 30, and our hurricane-vulnerable residents that live in Northern areas need to be prepared in the event of a late-season storm.

Special Items

Remember family members with special requirements, such as infants and elderly or disabled persons.
For Baby
• Formula
• Diapers
• Bottles
• Powdered milk
• Medications
For Adults
• Heart and high blood pressure medication
• Insulin
• Prescription drugs
• Denture needs
• Contact lenses and supplies
• Extra eye glasses

• Board games and other games that don’t require batteries or electricity, books for adult readers and for children.

For Pets
In the interest of protecting pets, the Humane Society of the United States offers these tips for inclusion in your family disaster plan:
• Do not leave your pets behind.
• Securely fasten a current identification tag to your pet’s collar and carry a photograph of your pet. It’s important to include the phone number of a friend or family member on the tag so anyone who may find your pet is able to reach someone who knows you.
• Transport pets in secure pet carriers and keep pets on leashes or harnesses.
• Call hotels in a safe/host location and ask if you can bring your pets. Ask the manager if a no-pet policy can be lifted during the disaster. Most emergency shelters do not admit pets.
• Call friends, family members, veterinarians or boarding kennels in a safe/host location to arrange foster care if you and your pets cannot stay together.
• Pack a week’s supply of food, water and other provisions, such as medication or cat litter.
• Do not wait until the last minute to evacuate. Rescue officials may not allow you to take your pets if you need to be rescued.
• Keep a list of emergency phone numbers (veterinarian, local animal control, animal shelters, Red Cross, etc.).

Possessions and Documents
• Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container:
• Will, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds
• Passports, social security cards, immunization records
• Bank account numbers
• Credit card account numbers and companies
• Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
• Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
• Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the supplies kit in the trunk of your car.
• Keep items in airtight plastic bags.
• Change your stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh.
• Replace your stored food every six months.
• Re-think your kit and family needs at least once a year. Replace batteries, update clothes, etc.
• Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.

Source/Reference: American Red Cross

Boating Precautions:

Destroyed boats after Hurricane Harvey
Boat carnage after Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Preparedness for Boat Owners

"The key to protecting your boat from hurricanes or any threatening severe weather is planning, preparation, and timely action. A boat owner/ operator may be held responsible for damages caused by his vessel during a natural disaster. Normally the National Weather Service will issue 48 and 24-hour warnings; however, in some instances only a 12-hour warning will be given. The marina will evaluate the storm threat and recommend evacuation accordingly. Upon receiving first storm notice, the boat owner/operator should immediately take precautionary measures to see that his boat is properly secured.

Each boat owner needs a plan unique to the type of boat, the local boating environment, the severe weather conditions, and the characteristics of safe havens and/or plans for protection. The following preparation and precautionary suggestions are issued as guidelines to be used by the marine community. The following precautions and checklists are meant as guides only. It is stressed, however, that following these guidelines does not necessarily exempt the owner/operator from being held responsible should his boat cause damage to another's property; nor will acquisition of required safety equipment and following the suggested safety procedures necessarily assure that no damage will occur to the boat.

General Precautions
Prior to the hurricane season, develop a detailed plan of action to secure your vessel in the marina, if permitted, or remove your boat from the threatened area, or take your boat to a previously identified hurricane refuge. Specifically identify and assemble needed equipment and supplies.

Hurricane moorings should be located in advance. Permission should be obtained from appropriate persons. For keelboats, make certain there is enough water at low tide.

A practice run should be made to check accessibility, depth of water, bridges, location of aids and/or obstructions to navigation and locations to secure lines or drop anchors. Drawbridges will not open for boats during evacuation procedures.

Before a hurricane threatens, plan how you will remove valuable equipment from the boat. Determine how long it will take so you will have an accurate estimate of the time and work involved.

After you have made anchoring or mooring provisions, remove all movable equipment such as canvas, sails, dinghies, radios, cushions, biminis and roller furling sails.

Lash down everything you cannot remove, such as tillers, wheels, booms, etc. Seal all openings (use air conditioning duct tape) to make the boat as watertight as possible.

Make sure the electrical system is off unless you plan to leave the boat in the water. If the boat is not to remain in the water, remove the battery to eliminate the risk of fire or other damage.
Arrange for a reliable person to learn and carry out your hurricane plan if you are out of town during a hurricane or severe storm.

Check your lease or rental agreement with the marina or storage area. Know your responsibilities and liabilities as well as those of the marina or storage area.

Consolidate all documents including insurance policies, a recent photograph or video tape of your vessel, boat registration, equipment inventory, lease agreement with the marina or storage area, and telephone numbers of appropriate authorities, i.e., harbor master, Coast Guard, insurance agent, National Weather Service, etc. Keep the documents in your possession in a locked water-proof box. They may be needed when you return to check on your boat after the hurricane.

Maintain an inventory list of both the items removed and those left on board. Items of value should be marked so that they can be readily identified."

For a more detailed list of instructions for boat owners please visit:

Well Being and Health Before and After a Natural Disaster

The University of Florida has put out a very informative Disaster Handbook about coping with the affects of a natural disaster. They cover everything from practical advice about safe drinking water, tackling mold and pruning trees to taking care of  mental and emotional well-being as well as coping with and parenting children with trauma from storm related stress. The handbook is in English and Spanish.  

Stay safe, Northampton County, Virginia and be prepared! 

Jean Flynn
Website Content Coordinator
Northampton County, VA