Know your hurricanes

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Stephanie Hansen
  • 325th Civil Engineer Squadron

Most of us know, or are at least familiar with, what hurricane categories are.




74-95 mph


96-110 mph


111-129 mph


130-156 mph


157 mph or higher


But, many are not familiar with hurricane conditions.

Hurricane condition, or HURCON, is an alert scale used by the United States Armed Forces, primarily the Air Force, to indicate the state of emergency or preparedness for an approaching hurricane.

When it comes to the categories the higher the number, the stronger and more destructive the winds. However, this is not the case with HURCONs. For HURCON’s the lower the number, the closer destructive winds are.  




Destructive Winds are possible within 96 hours.


Destructive Winds are possible within 72 hours.


Destructive Winds are possible within 48 hours.


Destructive Winds are possible within 24 hours.


Destructive Winds are possible within 12 hours.


Caution: Winds of 40-57 mph sustained are occurring.


Emergency: Winds of 58 mph sustained and/or gusts of 69 mph or greater are occurring.


Recovery: Destructive winds have subsided and are no longer forecast to occur; survey and work crews are permitted to determine the extent of the damage and to establish safe zones around hazards (e.g., downed power lines, unstable structures). Non-essential personnel are asked to remain in doors.


The Air Force defines destructive winds as 57.5 mph or greater for a sustained period of time. Sustained winds are the highest surface winds occurring for one minute.

In August of 2016, the Air Force updated its guidance for HURCON’s to not only alleviate confusion at installations, especially joint bases, within hurricane threatened areas, but to synchronize with the other service’s guidance. 

Previously the Air Force utilized HURCON 5 to indicate the beginning of hurricane season and would leave this posted throughout the season, unless a storm was approaching for personnel to have a constant reminder to be prepared. Now HURCON 5 means that an installation has the potential for being effected by destructive winds within 96 hours. The lower the HURCON number goes the closer destructive winds are expected to the installation.

What do these expected wind speed arrival times mean for Tyndall? It means we can expect the Dupont Bridge, per Bay County guidance, to close when sustained winds reach 50 mph. 

What does it mean for those who live within Bay County? If you have to cross the Hathaway Bridge or the Bailey Bridge, from Lynn Haven to Southport, both of these bridges may also closed due to the 50 mph winds.

For more information on hurricane preparedness contact the 325th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Readiness and Emergency Management Flight at (850) 283-2010. All base personnel are welcome to stop by building 909 for information.