Signs of a hurricane begin about 36 hours before landfall and include changes in wind patterns, cloud cover and precipitation. As the storm approaches, the intensity of these changes increases. Meteorologists are aware of these occurrences and emit public warnings when they begin.
For a category 2 hurricane, the first signs of the storm appear 36 hours before landfall. White cirrus clouds begin to form in the horizon as a breeze starts to roll in. It is at this time that local authorities issue storm warnings and order the evacuation of low-lying areas.
At 24 hours prior to landfall, the skies are overcast and winds blow at approximately 35 mph. At this point, it is probably too late to evacuate. People still in their homes are best off making final hurricane preparations. By 12 hours until landfall, clouds are thick overhead. There is heavy rainfall, and gale force winds of 74 mph carry debris into the air. Meanwhile, pressure falls at a steady rate.
When there are only six hours left before landfall, heavy rainfall combines with heavy winds over 90 mph. In the final hour before landfall, the high levels of precipitation inundate the area. Winds exceed 100 mph, causing rain to come down horizontally.