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 travel.
Hurricane Season in the Caribbean and Florida
Hurricanes occur only during a specific season. In the Caribbean, Florida, and other states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, hurricane season stretches from June 1st to November 30th. Not all Caribbean islands are necessarily subject to hurricanes, and those that are least likely to get hit are ones located furthest south. The islands that are generally safe include Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Curaçao, and the Turks and Caicos. With rates temptingly low, travelers determined to visit Florida or the Caribbean during hurricane season are encouraged to find out if their hotel has a hurricane guarantee before booking.
It is also suggested to check what your airline's policy is regarding weather events and cancellations before you leave home.
August and September are peak hurricane season months. They are also the most traveled summer months, so it's recommended that visitors acquaint themselves with the National Weather Service's Hurricane Awareness site. This will allow them to keep tabs on any storms that may come up. Hurricanes have a mind of their own and can begin to form just days or weeks before an already scheduled trip. For those who can't bear the idea of severe weather, they can skip the risk altogether and consider going someplace else during hurricane seasons, like Greece, Hawaii, California, or Australia.
What It's Like to Experience a Hurricane
For those who haven't experienced it before, a hurricane feels like a superstorm. The same elements like wind, thunder, lightning and heavy rain may arrive, but in more extreme measure and duration. Flooding may occur in areas close to sea level as well.
Guests at a resort can simply look to the management for guidance and safety. Others will need to take more precautionary measures. For example, if you have access to local media such as the radio, TV, online sites and social media, it's imperative to stay tuned in. You'll start hearing warnings of the imminent event and may receive alerts on your phone. Travelers should be aware that hurricanes can take out transmission lines, so information may get cut off at any time. It's important to have an evacuation plan, emergency kit, and a passport/ID for areas that are likely to get hit hard.
If you do get caught in a hurricane, seek shelter on high ground and follow instructions.
How a Hurricane Can Affect Travel Plans
Many properties in the hurricane-prone zone offer peace of mind by allowing you to cancel a reservation without penalty if a hurricane is predicted. The hotel will typically either give a full refund or let you rebook within a year. (The conditions vary, so read the fine print—wording that says "direct impact" or "impacted by hurricane force winds," might mean that you cannot cancel in advance, but you could be entitled to reimbursement after a storm hits.)
You may still have to pay for your flights and other tours or services you booked for your trip unless you bought travel insurance or you have a reward credit card that offers travel insurance options.
4 Hurricane Facts and Tips
- Hurricanes are graded on their severity, with the most dangerous ones classified as Category 5. The center of a hurricane is called the eye, and it offers a respite from the torrential storm, but not for long.
- In the United States, the three states that have suffered the greatest devastation from hurricanes have been Florida, Louisiana (New Orleans), and Texas (Galveston and Houston).
- A hurricane's duration depends on wind speed, and often it travels a circular route, so you may feel the impact twice.
- Never drive through standing water, as there's no telling how deep it is. Make sure not to also put yourself at risk when helping children and the elderly.