While hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property, tropical storms and depression also can be devastating. The primary hazards from tropical cyclones (which include tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes) are storm surge flooding, inland flooding from heavy rains, destructive winds, tornadoes, and high surf and rip currents.
An evacuation is the immediate and rapid movement away from the threat or actual occurrence of a potential hazard to you and your family. Charlotte County is divided into 5 evacuation zones. Depending on your evacuation zone and type of structure you live in, you may be asked to evacuate. It is important for you to Know Your Zone and have an emergency plan in place for you and your pets.
If you live in a sound structure outside the evacuation area and do not live in a manufactured home or RV, sheltering in place may be an option for you and your family. Have an emergency supply kit that can be used when sheltering in-place and in case of an evacuation.
Public shelters are available as a last resort. Charlotte County has no certified Red Cross shelters. In the event of a hurricane Charlotte County staffed shelters may be opened for citizens to take shelter. All are pet friendly. Charlotte County shelters of last resort may not be able to open depending on the size and direction of an approaching storm. Check local media and this website to ascertain which location may be open. You will need to bring your emergency kit, food, water, and bedding when staying in a shelter. Visit the shelter listing to locate your nearest public shelter.
Hurricanes are rated using the Saffier-Simpson scale as follows:
| 1||74-95 mph||Minimal|
| 2||96-110 mph||Moderate|
| 3||111-130 mph||Extensive|
| 4||131-155 mph||Extreme|
| 5||156 mph or greater||Catastrophic|
Advisory: Advisory messages are issued by the national Hurricane Center, giving information on all tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes.
Tropical Storm Watch: A tropical storm is similar, but smaller than a hurricane. Winds associated with these storms are less than 74 mph, but can still cause widespread damage and flooding. Tropical storm watches are made for specific coastal areas where tropical storm conditions pose possible threats within 48 hours.
Tropical Storm Warning: This warning means that tropical storm conditions, including possible sustained winds of 39-73 mph are expected in specific coastal areas within 36 hours.
Hurricane Watch: These watches are made for specific coastal areas. These are NOT warnings. These watches mean that a hurricane is close enough for everyone to listen to advisories and be prepared to take precautionary measures. Watches are usually issued 48 hours prior to landfall.
Hurricane Warning: This warning means that a hurricane is close enough to a specific coastal area that precautionary measures must be taken immediately. These warnings are usually issued 36 hours prior to landfall. However, if the hurricane's path is unusual, it may only be a few hours before landfall before the warning is issued.
Storm Surge Watch: The possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline, within 48 hours.
Storm Surge Warning: The danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline with 36 hours.