Know Your Risk including whether you live or work in a Hurricane Evacuation Zone

Understand the hazards that are associated with hurricanes and tropical storms, and what risks they bring. The main hazards include storm surge (the large volume of ocean water that is driven ashore by a hurricane or tropical storm) and storm tide, heavy rainfall and inland flooding, as well as high winds. These hazards can cause property damage, widespread loss of power, and catastrophic flooding both inland and along the coast.

Storm Surge & Storm Tide

Storm surge and large waves produced by hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property along the coast, as well as posing a significant risk for drowning.

Storm Surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tide.

Storm Tide is the water level rise during a storm due to the combination of storm surge and the astronomical tide.

This rise in water level can cause extreme flooding in coastal areas particularly when storm surge coincides with normal high tide, resulting in storm tides reaching up to 20 feet or more in some cases.

Coastal areas are vulnerable to storm surge, including areas away from the immediate shoreline. The destructive power of storm surge and large battering waves can result in loss of life, destruction of homes and other buildings, beach erosion and road damage along the coast.

In New Bedford, it may be necessary to evacuate parts of the city to protect residents from storm surge flooding.  In all but the most severe storms, the area of evacuation will be those low-lying areas outside the New Bedford Hurricane Barrier.  Evacuation is also an option for residents living outside potential flood areas who feel more comfortable “riding out” the storm in the safety and security of a mass care hurricane shelter.

Know if you live or work in an evacuation zone. Massachusetts recently established hurricane evacuation zones for coastal communities based upon the extent of storm surge flooding (inundation) an area might experience during a hurricane or tropical storm.

Know Your Evacuation Zone

For New Bedford residents – please refer to the city’s Hurricane Maps page to find out if you live or work in a hurricane evacuation zone, or you may contact New Bedford Emergency Management at 508-961-3060 for additional information.

Residents and businesses are urged to heed evacuation orders from city officials when issued.

Visit the National Hurricane Center’s Storm Surge Overview page to learn more about storm surge.

Heavy Rainfall & Inland Flooding 

Tropical storms and hurricanes often produce widespread, torrential rains in excess of 6 inches, which may result in deadly and destructive floods.

Flash flooding (defined as a rapid rise in water levels) and urban (street) flooding can occur quickly due to intense rainfall.  When approaching water on a roadway, always remember, Turn Around Don’t Drown!

Rainfall amounts are not directly related to the strength of tropical cyclones but rather to the speed and size of the storm, as well as the geography of the area. Slower moving and larger storms produce more rainfall. Generally, the heaviest rain will occur to the north and west of a hurricane or tropical storm track

High Winds

Tropical storm-force winds are strong enough to be dangerous to those caught in them. For this reason, evacuations and other preparedness actions should be completed before the onset of tropical storm-force winds, not hurricane-force winds.

Hurricane‐force winds, 74 mph or more, can destroy buildings and mobile homes. Debris, such as signs, roofing material, siding and small items left outside become flying missiles during hurricanes. Winds can stay above hurricane strength well inland. Hurricanes are classified into five categories according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which estimates potential property damage according to the hurricane’s sustained wind speed.