Florida experiences a wide range of weather phenomenon throughout the year. While many people may know Florida for hurricanes and lightning, there are many other situations for which you and your family must prepare.
Know your risk, take action and be a force of nature.
2018 Severe Weather Awareness Week
Severe Weather Awareness Guide
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Severe Weather Awareness Activity Book for Kids
Download PDF (3 MB)
- Extreme Heat and Cold
- Marine Hazards
- Rip Currents
- Thunderstorms and Lightning
- Climate Change
Extreme Heat and Cold
- Dress appropriately in loose fitting and light colored clothes.
- Drink plenty of water and avoid alcoholic beverages.
- Limit outdoor activities, schedule breaks and take advantage of shade.
- Use sunscreen with ultraviolet ray protection.
- Learn about the heat index, a calculation of how hot it feels.
- Look Before You Lock — never leave children or pets in a parked car for any amount of time.
- Protect People — Dress in layers and wear a hat and gloves. Stay out of the wind and keep dry. Check on young children and elders who are the most sensitive to cold weather.
- Protect Pets — Be sure to bring outdoor pets inside or give them a warm shelter.
- Protect Plants — Cover cold-sensitive plants to protect them from the dangerous temperatures.
- Protect Pipes — Cover pipes and allow outdoor faucets to drip slowly to prevent them from freezing and breaking.
- Practice Fire Safety — Use safe heating equipment indoors. Do not use solid fuel burning devices such as grills; they release carbon monoxide, a deadly gas. If using space heaters, follow the instructions and be attentive to open flames.
- Every year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather related hazard.
- A mere six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles, including pickup trucks and SUVs.
- Practice flood safety: know your risk, be alert for river flood alerts and make a family plan.
- The Atlantic hurricane season is from June 1 through November 30.
- August and September generally see the most activity, but storms can occur all season long and even beyond.
- Build an emergency kit, make a family communication plan and make a checklist to use when storms threaten.
- Check the marine forecast before setting sail to learn about any advisories or hazardous weather outlooks. Lightning, waterspouts and other hazards can be even more dangerous on the water.
- Wear a life jacket, stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio and follow safe boating practices.
- Rip currents are a dangerous phenomenon where shallow channels of water flow away from shore at up to five miles per hour.
- Know before you go: check the rip current forecast, local conditions and talk to lifeguards or beach patrol staff.
- Learn how to spot rip currents by watching Break the Grip of the Rip, a free training video.
Thunderstorms and Lightning
- Florida sees an average of 1.4 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes every year and often has the greatest number of lightning related injuries and deaths in the United States.
- Air around a lightning bolt can heat to 50,000° F (27,760° C) — much hotter than the sun's 9,900° F (5,510° C) surface. The heating occurs so quickly that the expanding air breaks the sound barrier as thunder.
- Florida has the greatest number of thunderstorms in the United States, occurring 75–105 days each year.
- Thunderstorms can produce dangerous hazards such as lightning, tornadoes, hail, strong winds and heavy rain that can lead to flooding. Severe thunderstorms are those which produce winds in excess of fifty-eight miles per hour, hail one inch across or larger, or tornadoes.
- 30 Seconds — Count the seconds between seeing lightning and hearing thunder. If the time is less than thirty seconds, lightning is a potential threat; seek shelter immediately.
- 30 Minutes — After hearing the last thunder, wait thirty minutes before leaving shelter. Many lightning deaths occur after the storm passes. Stay in a safe area until you are sure that the threat has passed.
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio and be aware of any watches and warnings issued.
- Tornado Watch — conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms to form, a few of which may be capable of producing a tornado.
- Tornado Warning — a tornado is either occurring or imminent based on radar. Take cover immediately.
- Have a plan at home and practice it with your family before a storm. The safest place to go depends on your location (see "What To Do")
- A typical year in Florida will see over 4,600 fires burn nearly 110,000 acres of land. Prescribed burns reduce fuel buildups which can cause dangerous wildfire conditions.
- Always make sure that campfires are extinguished, do not litter (e.g., cigarettes) and prepare your home and family.
- Before building any fires, learn more about fire safety and conditions and consult the county burn ban map.
- Please report incidents of arson by calling 800-342-5869 or contacting a Florida Forest Service office in your area. Florida's Forestry Arson Alert Association offers rewards for information leading to an arrest.
- Individuals, businesses and communities can use the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit to help guide the process of planning and implementing resilience-building projects.
- Learn more about your local climate by using the Climate Explorer to explore maps and graphs of historical and projected climate trends in your area.