Avoid a Hurricane on Your Vacation

atlantic hurricane
••• Hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. Getty Images.

No one wants to get stuck in a hurricane on vacation. These severe weather events are inconvenient at best and dangerous at worst. To prevent a hurricane from ruining your vacation, start by being weather-wise and figuring out a strategy before you go.

Difficulty:

Easy — and it can save your life if you're careful, aware and lucky

Time Required: 5 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Understand that hurricanes occur only during a specific season.
  1. In the Caribbean, Florida, and other states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, hurricane season stretches from June 1-November 30.
  2. August is peak hurricane season.
  3. Not all Caribbean islands are subject to hurricanes.
  4. Islands least likely to get hit are ones located furthest south.
  5. These include Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Curaçao, and Turks and Caicos.
  6. If you're determined to visit Florida or the Caribbean during this time (when rates are temptingly low), find out if your hotel has a hurricane guarantee.
  7. Acquaint yourself with the National Weather Service's Hurricane Awareness site.
  8. If you can't bear the idea of stormy weather (or worse) and hate risk, go someplace else during hurricane season.
  9. If you do get caught in a hurricane, seek shelter on high ground and follow instructions.

What It's Like to Experience a Hurricane:

  • Think of a hurricane as a super storm. The same elements — wind, thunder, lightning and heavy rain — arrive, but in more extreme measure and duration. Flooding may occur in areas close to sea level.
  • If you have access to local media — radio, TV, online sites and social media, tune in. You'll start hearing warnings of the imminent event. Stay on top of news reports — and know that a hurricane can take out transmission lines so information may get cut off at any time.
  • If you're a guest at a resort, look to the management for guidance and follow their directions to safety.
  • If you're on your own, hopefully you've already prepared an emergency kit. Locate it and plan to evacuate to higher ground. 
  • Never drive through standing water; there's no telling how deep it is.
  • A hurricane's duration depends on wind speed, and often it travels a circular route so you may feel the impact twice.
  • The center of a hurricane is called the eye, and it offers a respite from the torrential storm... but not for long.
  • Keep your passport and ID on your person.
  • Help children and the elderly and infirm without putting yourself at risk.

Tips:

  • Insist on going to the tropics in August anyway? Pack a raincoat but keep your fingers crossed.
  • Check what your airline's policy is regarding weather events and cancellations before you leave home.

Hurricane Facts and Figures:

  • Hurricanes are graded on their severity. The most dangerous ones are classified Category 5.
  • Although the season runs from July through November, the majority of hurricanes occur in August and September.
  • In the United States, the three states that have suffered the greatest devastation from hurricanes have been Florida, Louisiana (New Orleans) and Texas (Galveston).