Severe Weather Awareness

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.

Extreme Heat and Cold

Beat the Heat

  • 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.
  • Visit for heat health tools and information
  • Look Before You Lock — never leave children or pets in a parked car for any amount of time.

Look Before You Lock

Remember the Five Ps of Cold Weather

  • 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 because they release carbon monoxide, a deadly gas. If using space heaters, follow the instructions and be attentive to open flames.

Welcome to Florida sign and snow in D3 on January 28, 2014


Turn Around Don't Drown

  • Every year, more fatalities occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather related hazard.
  • During hurricanes from 1963 through 2012, water accounted for about 90% of direct fatalities, many of which occurred in vehicles.
  • 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.

Turn Around Don't Drown


It Only Takes One

  • 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 a family plan and checklist to use when storms threaten.

Hurricane Isabel from the International Space Station

Marine Hazards

Boating Safely

  • 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 that is a proper size and fit and make sure it is properly fastened.
  • Follow safe boating practices.
  • Stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio.

Life vest: wear it

Rip Currents

Don't Fight… Swim Left or Right

  • 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.

Rip Current Sign

Thunderstorms and Lightning

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

  • 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.

Severe Thunderstorms

  • 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.

When Thunder Roads, Go Indoors!
See A Flash, Dash Inside!


Get In, Get Down, Cover Up

  • 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")

Severe Weather Shelter Sign


Only You Can Prevent Wildfires

  • 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 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.

Only You

Climate Change

Climate Resilience

  • 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.

Map of U.S. with Two Gears