The National Park Service manages a wide variety of areas across the United States and its territories, with many different types of physical environments and visitor experiences where varying levels of service are required to manage incidents and emergencies.
During severe weather such as hurricanes, the NPS strives to ensure the safety of its visitors, employees, and resources. When the NPS is responding to an ongoing severe weather event, this page will provide timely updates about NPS response activities and links to specific information about parks that may be involved.
The immediate NPS response for parks significantly impacted by severe weather and other natural disasters is often coordinated by NPS Incident Management Teams (IMTs) from across the country. An IMT’s work focuses on accounting for and assisting employees at impacted parks, organizing for the recovery work ahead, and bringing in additional staff resources to conduct damage assessments, coordinate debris removal, and provide access to park areas. The NPS also coordinates closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the lead agency for the federal response to severe weather emergencies.
Yutu, a strong category 5 typhoon, crossed over Guam and the Northern Marianas in the Pacific on October 24 and 25, impacting War in the Pacific National Historical Park (Guam) and American Memorial Park (Saipan). War in the Pacific NHP reopened on Friday, October 26. American Memorial Park suffered damage to many of its facilities and reopened on November 12 as recovery continues.
Hurricane Michael made landfall on October 10 along the panhandle of Florida and crossed over areas of the Southeast before it moved into the Atlantic and away from the U.S. on October 12. Parks from Florida to Virginia primarily experienced temporary power outages, trail and roadway blockages from downed trees and limbs, and some minor damage to facilities. Please check park websites and social media for specific information about impacts to visitor services operations. Information about what FEMA and other federal agencies are doing is below.
On September 14, Florence made landfall south of Wilmington, North Carolina, as a Category 1 hurricane and moved slowly inland over the next few days as a tropical storm bringing heavy rain and catastrophic flooding. Parks in the path of the storm implemented emergency plans, closed as needed, and ensured employee safety.
An NPS Incident Management Team was deployed to North Carolina to coordinate initial emergency recovery operations for affected parks. All parks impacted by the storm have reopened. Updates are posted below and photos of storm impacts and park recovery efforts are available on Flickr.
News Releases about Hurricane Florence
Tropical Storm Isaac
Isaac moved through the eastern Caribbean on September 13 and 14 with minimal impact on parks.
Tropical Storm Olivia
Olivia moved across the Hawaiian islands on September 12. Parks in Hawaii have reopened.
Tropical Storm Gordon
Tropical Storm Gordon made landfall September 4 along the Gulf Coast just west of the Alabama–Mississippi border. On September 5, it moved inland over Mississippi and weakened to a tropical depression. Parks impacted by the storm included Gulf Islands National Seashore, New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, Natchez National Historical Park, Vicksburg National Military Park, and Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.
Hurricane / Tropical Storm Lane impacted parks in the Hawaiian Islands in late August. Explore Hawaii parks to find individual updates via park websites and through social media.
Other Federal Resources and Information
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (Department of Homeland Security) (Español) is the lead agency for the federal response to severe weather emergencies.
- USA.gov provides links to the latest available information on relief and response, including storm preparedness, helping survivors, and other resources. (GobiernoUSA.gov también provee información del gobierno en español.)
- For information about tropical weather that may be affecting a park near you, please visit the National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The NHC issues watches, warnings, forecasts, and analyses of tropical weather.
NPS Policy and Authorities
NPS emergency response efforts are directed by NPS Management Policies, which state, “The saving of human life will take precedence over all other management actions as the National Park Service strives to protect human life and provide for injury-free visits” (Section 126.96.36.199, Visitor Safety and Emergency Response). The NPS ability to respond to incidents is essential to the safety of all who enter NPS areas and is implemented in this policy.
The NPS also has authority to support emergency response outside of the parks. During times of emergency, the NPS may be asked to provide response to conduct search and rescue, firefighting, or public safety and security. The NPS can provide support for needs involving public works and engineering, public health and medical services, oil and hazardous spill response, and external affairs. In addition, the NPS is one of the support agencies to provide natural and cultural resources and historic preservation functions in the federal government under the National Response Framework.
Last updated: January 30, 2019