A hurricane alert is a public statement by meteorologists that provides information about a hurricane that is expected to occur in the near future. Hurricane alerts include both watches and warnings.
Weather forecasters are often able to identify and predict hurricane development well in advance of a storm actually affecting land. Hurricane watches are issued when a hurricane may or may not actually strike a certain area. Hurricane warnings are disseminated in the media when a hurricane is virtually certain to affect a region or when the storm is actually occurring. In the United States, these alerts are prepared by the National Weather Service and are very useful in helping citizens prepare appropriately for storms, including making decisions to evacuate their homes when necessary.