A hurricane watched is issued by the National Weather Service when a tropical storm or hurricane is expected to become a threat to a coastal area within the next 36 hours.

Take precautionary action in case a hurricane warning is issued. Prepare an evacuation route and make sure all the members of your household know it. Prepare a plan for your pets. Please remember that most hurricane shelters do not take pets. Determine whether they will remain with you at your home or go to a designated pet shelter. If you are ordered to evacuate, NOAA recommends taking your pets with you as leaving them behind is likely to result injury, loss, or death.

Most people are not prepared because the do not expect hurricanes to actually hit their town. Thus, in the case of a hurricane watch, consumer hell breaks loose in grocery stores, home improvement stores, and gas stations in the area under threat. The only way to be ensured you are prepared is to have the following items at the beginning of hurricane season: Prior to the next hurricane season, you may want to invest in hurricane shutters for your house. The initial investment may hurt you wallet, but you will save in the long run on home owners insurance. Also, when a Category 5 hurricane is licking your towns’ coastline and the local Home Depot has sold out of plywood, you'll be happy to have them. Make sure to inspect the trees on your property and have any dead limbs removed.

Now when a watch is issued you may focus on tasks that you cannot prepare for. If the hurricane actually hits your town, power may be out in your area for days to weeks. Go to your bank and withdraw enough money to survive on for a few weeks, fill up your gas tank (the earlier the better), make sure you have filled your prescription medications, and remove all items outside that could become projectiles in the storm.

Besides overcast and rainy skies, a storm surge is usually the first hazard to precede the hurricane. If your area is lucky and the hurricane is just a near miss, the surfers in your area will be out in full force to get knocked about by the white water and hurricane swell. If the hurricane is going to hit, the coastal areas will be evacuated. Storm surges can raise sea levels by 15 feet and, depending on the natural or man-made coastal barriers, can cause major damage to buildings and other coastal structures.

Expect high winds and tornados. Anything outside (whether it is tied down or not) can become flying missiles in hurricane. Remain inside, and if possible, in an interior room with no windows. Listen to the radio for tornado watches and warnings. Check out information about NOAA Weather Radio at www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr.

Source: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/english/intro.shtml