How to Prepare for Hurricanes When You Live a Few Hundred Miles Inland

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

When I moved to southwestern Virginia, I really didn’t expect to be dealing with hurricanes. But, I quickly learned, a system like Hurricane Florence could affect places that are as much as 350+ miles from the shore. So, if you are one of the 112 million and then some of Americans in the area classified as the “East Coast” – particularly the southern to mid-Atlantic part – you need to get prepared for this possibility too.

Now, a very important thing to keep in mind is that hurricanes are unpredictable until they get closer to the shore. At that point, we can know with much more certainty that the storm is headed our way. Unfortunately, at that point, it’s really too late to get prepared. Supplies will be picked over at the stores and roads will be jammed with people fleeing the hurricane.

It’s much better to prepare as far in advance as possible for a hurricane. And if the one you’re prepping for turns back out to sea, don’t think your preparations have been wasted. Trust me, another one will come and you will be glad you have the supplies that you do.

How far away from the coast can hurricanes affect you?

The National Hurricane Center warns that the pictures on maps are only predictions and that the effects can go far beyond these cones.

NHC tropical cyclone forecast tracks can be in error. This forecast uncertainty is conveyed by the track forecast “cone”, the solid white and stippled white areas in the graphic. The solid white area depicts the track forecast uncertainty for days 1-3 of the forecast, while the stippled area depicts the uncertainty on days 4-5. Historical data indicate that the entire 5-day path of the center of the tropical cyclone will remain within the cone about 60-70% of the time. To form the cone, a set of imaginary circles are placed along the forecast track at the 12, 24, 36, 48, 72, 96, and 120 h positions, where the size of each circle is set so that it encloses 67% of the previous five years official forecast errors. The cone is then formed by smoothly connecting the area swept out by the set of circles.

It is also important to realize that a tropical cyclone is not a point. Their effects can span many hundreds of miles from the center. The area experiencing hurricane force (one-minute average wind speeds of at least 74 mph) and tropical storm force (one-minute average wind speeds of 39-73 mph) winds can extend well beyond the white areas shown enclosing the most likely track area of the center. (source)

I would imagine if you are anywhere near the cone, you need to be making preparations. Here’s the NHC’s map.

Here’s an explanation of the graphic:

This graphic shows an approximate representation of coastal areas under a hurricane warning (red), hurricane watch (pink), tropical storm warning (blue) and tropical storm watch (yellow). The orange circle indicates the current position of the center of the tropical cyclone. The black line, when selected, and dots show the National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast track of the center at the times indicated. The dot indicating the forecast center location will be black if the cyclone is forecast to be tropical and will be white with a black outline if the cyclone is forecast to be extratropical. If only an L is displayed, then the system is forecast to be a remnant low. The letter inside the dot indicates the NHC’s forecast intensity for that time:

D: Tropical Depression – wind speed less than 39 MPH
S: Tropical Storm – wind speed between 39 MPH and 73 MPH
H: Hurricane – wind speed between 74 MPH and 110 MPH
M: Major Hurricane – wind speed greater than 110 MPH

Their prediction has it reaching us Friday instead of Thursday. Personally, I plan to have everything in place by Wednesday. You just never know when it comes to Mother Nature.

How should you prepare for a hurricane?

How you should prepare for a hurricane depends where you live.

If you live on the coast and discover that the storm headed your way is indeed a Category 5, your best option is to evacuate. A Category 5 is nothing to mess around with. In fact, evacuations may well be mandatory.

If you are going to leave, do so before everyone else is panicking to get out of the way of the hurricane. If you are going to evacuate, by making plans early, you can still reserve a hotel much further inland while some are still available. You can make plans to find one that is pet-friendly or find a kennel that will take your furbabies. If you wait until the last minute, you could end up in some unpleasant shelter.

If you live further inland (or if Florence is much weaker than predicted) the preparations are different. Most folks will hunker down and wait it out. Here are the things you can expect:

  • High winds
  • Torrential rain
  • Flooding (some places are predicting more than 20 inches of rainfall in a day)
  • Disruptions of electricity
  • Disruptions of municipal water

So to prepare for these things you need to take the following steps:

  • Go out to your yard and secure anything that could become a projectile: lawn furniture, large toys, fallen branches, flower pots, etc.
  • If there are trees with dead or weak limbs overhanging your house, have the branches removed.
  • If you live in a low-lying area or near a body of water, make an evacuation plan in case of flooding.
  • Remove things from your basement or lower floors of your home to protect them from possible flood waters. It may be enough to merely put the items up on wooden pallets you scavenged from the trash of a local business.
  • Prepare for a power outage that could last for 2 weeks. (go here for details).
  • Be sure to have food on hand that doesn’t require cooking.
  • Have plenty of water for humans or pets (again, enough for 2 weeks).
  • Have back up power all charged up for cell phones.
  • Pick up some ice so you can store some of your groceries in coolers and keep fridges and freezers cold for longer.
  • If you live in an area that is likely to flood, be prepared to be stranded at home until the waters recede.
  • Make sure to pick up prescription medication and other supplies for special needs.

Obviously, this is a quick list of preparations. For something a little bit more detailed, download this free checklist with the things you need to do to get ready for the hurricane.

If you want to go more in-depth, pick up a copy of my book, The Prepper’s Hurricane Survival Guide.


How to Prepare for Hurricanes When You Live a Few Hundred Miles Inland
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • Great article, Daisy! While I don’t live on the coast, hurricanes do come where I live every 3 years or so. High winds WILL knock down trees and power lines. Also, hurricanes FREQUENTLY spawn tornados.

    Hurricane winds move counterclockwise, so the wind on the right side of the eye moves at a higher speed relative to the ground (fast side) than those on the left side of the eye (slow side). This is because you have to add the forward speed of the hurricane itself to the speed of the wind for the right side and subtract the forward speed from the speed of the wind left of the eye. For the same reason the storm surge is greater on the right side than the left side.

    The hurricane prep that only locals know about is flying insect poison spray. The high winds and heavy rain tends to knock down flying (stinging) insect nests so after the the storm is over many whole colonies are looking for new places to nest. This works to the detriment to workers clearing debris and homeowners who have their windows open due to the lack of power.


    • Hi, Wandakate! The thing with storms like this is that they are pretty unpredictable until the last day or so before they hit.
      A few things I might do would be:

      ~ canning some things in my fridge and freezer to make them shelf-stable
      ~ making as much ice as I can stuff into my freezers to help keep things cold longer
      ~ make sure you have food and water on hand to last you a week or two
      ~ be prepared to stay home in case of floods and downed trees.

      You may not get the extremely high winds there so close to Tennessee, but I’d get ready, just in case. All the stuff you’d get, you would use anyway at another time.

      Best wishes,

    • I have had the unfortunate experience of loosing power many times in the last 4 years. I live in the burbs outside of PHL and one would think we have a pretty stable power supply. We do, for the most part, but falling trees impact our locale on a regular basis. Power lines are taken down and the electric utility company is putting out multiple trucks from all over the country to handle these downed lines.

      I have a generator which is cycled for 2 hours on and 4 hours off. This is more than enough time to keep freezers and refrigerators at temperature, without having to run the generator needlessly. Plus it will save fuel, giving you more time between generator runs. I have also added some electrical junctions to my heaters, in case we lose power over the winter. Most of my appliances run on natural gas, which reduces the overall electrical demand on a generator. Make sure you have enough fuel for the genset and keep it out of your home.

      I know the Franklin area from a couple visits during my college days…my concern for your area is rain. All of that rain will flow down the mountains, into the valleys and ravines and, eventually find its way into populated areas…hurricane irene in Vermont.

      Stay safe.

  • Good article and list.

    A sidenote regarding trees, any downed tree stem or branches are considered an Act of God” in certin state(s). Meaning, if it’s your neighbor’s tree that fell on your property it’s not their responsibility but yours. Same may apply to your insurance policy. Check your policy’s wording. A location that was never considered to be in flood zone may or not be after the last hurricance season and you may not be covered. Same may apply to more stringent Building Codes whichever one, local, state, national, your area is in.
    While it might be harder to find a tree consultant, who can point out which ones are weak or rotten inside, now, at least stock up on tarps large enough to cover your roof if the unfortunate occurs. Tie-downs also. They’re both good for various situations.
    In my opinion any overhanging tree branch or landscaping close to a house needs to be removed especially the flammable ones, ie. pine, juniper. If designed right consider trees, high bushes, a distance from the house as wind breaks.
    Dirt berms held together with vegation, grasses to bushes, to divert winds could also function as a place for a raised bed garden or a defensive perimeter that blends into the envirnoment.
    Avoid being in a ground depression as they will flood even on high elevations.
    In Florida people have build on coastal barriers islands destroying any natural hurricane defense. During and after a hurricance ten miles inland from the ocean is a high danger zone, winds, storm surges, flooding, tornadoes spawned off the north quadrants of a hurricance regardless if it made landfall (they sound like freight trains going close over your roofline, twenty to thirty or so, one after the other.). And in that coastal perimeter is ninety percent of the state’s population who will panic and overrun you, literally, leaving and then returning too quickly after the storm, backover you again, adding insult to injury. About the only thing slowing them down last year was the total congestion of all roads, large, small secondary roads, coast to coast and parts of the Interstate being closed down due to flooding and actual and potential sinkholes from the sandbar called Florida being water logged. You may not be living by a river but the watershed that created the river can be a considerable area away and after a tropical inland storm could turn into a swamp.
    I wonder about Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida flooding from the incoming storm water surges and the dams being overwhelmed similiar to New Orleans and Hurricance Katrina. Add in the influx of the coastal algae bloom pollution and it’ll be a mess.
    Besides gasoline, volatile chemicals in the flood waters, New Orleans had escaped piranhas from a local aquarium. If it helps any, living in the Miami/Palm Beach, learn to identify the differance between a crocodile’s and an alligator’s nose appendage and which side of the Jaguar has the gas cap to avoid having to try and turn around in a crowded gas line and getting into a fight.
    As the illustrious Pastor Joe Fox said at Viking Preparedness “Don’t get on the bus” Gus … or was that Paul Simon? Been done hit by too many plastic patio chairs and furniture during hurricanes, can’t rightly remember. But please put all outside stuff inside the garage and if you can’t there’ll be pently to pick up after the storm. (Does not apply to the three or four abandon cars on the front lawn.)

    • … sorry, but almost forgot the Iconic Poster child of Hurricane Katrina. If anone remembers the ‘portly’ woman in front of the Downtown New Orleans Sports Coliseum screaming into the television camera “FEED ME!! FEED ME!!!”. Still remember that.

      Are those the neighborhood community members you want to be around after a Hurricane?

      Another reason to bug-out.

  • Here in PA we’re preparing too! With the record-wet summer, more rain is something we DON’T need… I had my husband buy our backup sump pump for the basement over the last weekend – instead of waiting as we were initially planning to do. Prices are 4x what they were when we bought the current pump just a couple years ago! Discharge hoses are more too… Anyway, since the basement had already flooded in early August, there’s not much that we’ve left on the ground, just the box of recently hatched chicks we’d have to move, and the workout equipment. Other than that I think we’re good. Have bottled water, food, and a way to power things “just in case”.

    I have family in VA Beach, and they’re all set. Just please pray for those who must stay behind and man the hospitals! Not many realize that even in a “mandatory evacuation” not everyone can evac!

  • A few hundred miles inland? Hah! Come to Florida, where no place is >75 miles from the coast. A year ago today Irma plowed through our very inland location. Lost power for ~14 hours (folks a block away had to wait another 1.5 days!), lots of tree debris to rake up, had to replace the picket fence. Down here most folks know what to do and when to do it during hurricane season. Sheriffs need to deputize everyone with a CCW card and tell them to give looters no quarter. #YouLootWeShoot

    As for Isaac, it looks to stay in the southern Caribbean and head for Belize.

    • ZenitFan, you were lucky! We were without power for 11 days after Irma, and there were places which took 2 and 3 weeks to get power here in south Florida. It took days for first responders to clear roads with chainsaws! We were luckier with Andrew because my neighborhood lost power for only 17 hours, but friends of mine had no power for 4 days. Irma hit us dead on. We were blessed not to have the flooding and storm surge they were expecting. We had some, but nothing horrendous. Love your looter comment.

  • No date on this article… While the information is useful for general Hurricane preps, I’d like to know exactly when these warnings are being posted. I infer, from the dates on prior comments, that it happened in 2018?

    Thanks for the article!

  • This is SO important. We live in eastern Ohio, in the Upper Ohio River Valley. We have experienced massive flooding of creeks and lakes in the Ohio River watershed, power outages – due to high winds, blizzards – when a Noreaster meets a hurricane over Cleveland, trees down, road closures, and lots more due to a hurricane dropping its junk on our heads.

    My dtr and I have been discussing prepping our families for this one in case Dorian blows our way. Extra perishables and consumables are always important as well as filling tubs, buckets, etc., for toilet flushing and washing.

    We live in a rural area with an electric coop which does a great job proactively cutting trees down around power lines but we can still lose power for a day or two. We will be keeping an eye on this one.

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