If you live or work in one of Massachusetts’s coastal communities or near a river or other waterway that is connected to the ocean, you should know two things.  First you should know whether your home or business is in a pre-designated Hurricane Inundation Zone.  A Hurricane Inundation Zone is an area that may be inundated with flood waters during a hurricane.  Second, you should know whether your home or business is in a pre-designated Hurricane Evacuation Zone.  People who work or live in a Hurricane Evacuation Zone may be asked or ordered to evacuate the zone prior to a hurricane making landfall in the area.  To determine whether your home or business is in a Hurricane Inundation Zone or a Hurricane Evacuation Zone, you should review two maps - your community’s Hurricane Inundation Map , and your community’s Hurricane Evacuation Zones map.  Your community’s maps may be viewed through this website (see the directions below).

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) recently updated all Hurricane Inundation Maps for Massachusetts communities that are along a coast or have a river or other waterway that is connected to the ocean. Hurricane Inundation Maps depict those areas of land that may be flooded during a hurricane. These maps are created using the Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model developed by the National Weather Service (NWS) to estimate potential storm surge and inundation flooding that will occur during Category 1, Category 2, Category 3 or Category 4 hurricane.   The Hurricane Inundation Maps show how far inland flood water may reach for each category of hurricane.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has also created Hurricane Evacuation Maps for all of Massachusetts’s coastal communities and communities along rivers or other waterways that are connected to the ocean.  These maps are designed to be tools for local public officials to make local evacuation decisions as a hurricane approaches and to provide critical information to citizens who work or live in areas that may need to be evacuated as a hurricane approaches. 

Individuals who live and/or work in coastal communities or communities with rivers or other waterways that connect to the ocean are encouraged to review their community’s Hurricane Inundation Map and Hurricane Evacuation Map to determine if their home or workplace may be vulnerable to flooding during a hurricane, and determine if these properties are in a hurricane evacuation zone.

To review these maps, individuals should take the following steps:

1. Find your community’s Hurricane Inundation Map using the following link: Hurricane Inundation Maps (PDF).  Once you find your community, complete the following steps:

  • Click on the file (a preview of the map will display).
  • Click the “download” button in the lower right-hand corner to download the map.
  • Once the map has downloaded, it will appear as a file button in the lower left-hand corner.  Click on this file to open the map. 

2. Alternatively, individuals may use the “Type Your Address” feature in the Hurricane Inundation Maps online map. To use this tool, simply type the address of your home or workplace to display a map.   

3. Once the map is open, find the street of your home and/or business on the map, and determine if it is in a shaded area.  You may zoom in and out using the zoom buttons on the map.  The shaded areas are coded to identify inundation areas, or the extent of flooding, for each category of hurricane.

4. If your home and/or business is in a shaded area, it means the following:

  • Category 1 Hurricane (Light Green): This area may be flooded during a category 1, 2, 3, or 4 hurricane.
  • Category 2 Hurricane (Dark Green): This area may be flooded during a category 2, 3, or 4 hurricane. 
  • Category 3 Hurricane (Yellow): This area may be flooded during a category 3 or 4 hurricane. 
  • Category 4 Hurricane (Red): This area may be flooded during a category 4 hurricane. 

5. Next, find the Hurricane Evacuation Map (PDF) for your community. Once you find your community, complete the following steps:

  • Click on the file (a preview of the map will display).
  • Click the “download” button in the lower right-hand corner to download the map.
  • Once the map has downloaded, it will appear as a file button in the lower left-hand corner.  Click on this file to open the map. 

6. Alternatively, individuals may use the “Type Your Address” feature in the Hurricane Evacuation Zones online map. To use this tool, simply type the address of your home or workplace to display a map.   

7. Once the map is open, find the street of your home and/or business on the map and determine and determine if it is in a shaded area.  You may zoom in and out using the zoom buttons on the map.  The shaded areas are coded to identify hurricane evacuation zones (Zone A, Zone B, Zone C)

8. If your home or business is not in a shaded area, but is completely surrounded by shaded areas, may want to consider yourself to be in an evacuation zone, as your area could become isolated during a hurricane.

9. If you live or work in an evacuation zone, you should listen to local and state officials and weather forecasts before and during a hurricane for evacuation information. If evacuations are necessary, local and state officials may use the evacuation zones (Zone A or Zone B) to identify areas to be evacuated.  If local or state officials call for an evacuation of a zone that you live in or work in, you should follow their directions and evacuate to a safe area.

10. If you live or work in an evacuation zone, you should plan for and be prepared to evacuate during a hurricane as part of your emergency plan. To be safe, you should be prepared for hurricane impacts one category higher than the storm being forecast.

11.  As part of your emergency plan you should create an evacuation plan detailing where you would evacuate to, how you would get there, what you would bring, and what you will do with your pets. You should also prepare an emergency kit to take with you in the event of an evacuation.

12. For more hurricane preparedness related information and tips, see MEMA’s Hurricanes webpage.

For emergency managers and public safety officials, see MEMA’s  Hurricane Resources for Emergency Managers webpage for more information.