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Watches & Warnings

Because outside preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the National Hurricane Center issues watches and warnings for specific areas of danger. Additional watches and warnings may be issued by local National Weather Service offices to provide detailed information on specific threats such as flash floods, floods, and tornadoes.


48 hours

in advance of possible onset


36 hours

in advance of expected onset

Storm Surge

Life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline.

Storm Surge Watch

danger is possible

Storm Surge Warning

danger is expected

Tropical Storm

An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39–73 mph.

Tropical Storm Watch

conditions are possible

Tropical Storm Warning

conditions are expected


Winds that have reached a constant speed of 74 mph or higher and blow in a large spiral around a relative calm center known as the “eye”.

Hurricane Watch

conditions are possible


  • Prepare your home and review your plan for evacuation in case a Hurricane or Tropical Storm Warning is issued.
  • Listen closely to instructions from local officials.

Hurricane Warning

conditions are expected


  • Finish storm preparations and immediately leave the threatened area if directed by local officials.
  • Have a plan for where you will stay such as with family or friends, at a hotel or at a shelter.

Extreme Wind

Extreme sustained winds of a major hurricane (115 mph or greater), usually associated with the eyewall, are expected to begin within an hour.

Extreme Wind Warning

danger is expected


  • Take immediate shelter in the interior portion of a well-built structure.

Hurricane Hazards

Hurricanes and tropical storms not only threaten South Carolina’s coast but ALL areas of our state. It’s important for ALL South Carolinians to prepare for hurricane season.


Hurricanes and tropical storms often produce widespread, torrential rains in excess of 6 inches, which may result in deadly and destructive floods. In fact, flooding is the major threat from tropical cyclones for people living inland.


Winds from a hurricane can destroy buildings and manufactured homes. Outdoor items and debris can become projectiles in high winds.


Tornadoes can accompany hurricanes and tropical storms. The most tornadoes spawned by a single tropical cyclone were associated with Hurricane Ivan, which spawned 120 tornadoes in 2004.