Hurricane Risk in the Turks and Caicos Islands

Waves hitting pier in Turks and Caicos

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If you are planning a trip to the Turks and Caicos Islands, it's prudent to know about how they are affected by the Atlantic hurricane season. Like the neighboring Bahamas to the north, the British Overseas Territory of Turks and Caicos is vulnerable to hurricanes.

In 2018, there were no issues with the weather on the islands. However, in 2017, the Atlantic hurricane season was more active than usual, and in September the Turks and Caicos Islands were ravaged by back-to-back Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which were Category 5—the most intense level. Luckily, the islands made a speedy recovery.

Hurricane History in Turks and Caicos

Other major hurricanes that have impacted the Turks and Caicos Islands in recent decades include the Category 4 Hurricane Joaquin, which in 2015 washed out roads and damaged homes on the islands. 

In 2014, Hurricane Bertha made landfall on Middle Caicos Island as a tropical storm with wind speeds around 45 mph, bringing heavy rainfall but causing no major damage. The islands also experienced the Category 1 Hurricane Irene in 2011 and the Category 4 Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Hurricane Season Dates 

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak period from early August through the end of October. The Atlantic basin includes the entire Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Based on historical weather records dating back to 1950, in a typical season the Atlantic region experiences 12 tropical storms with sustained winds of 39 mph, of which six turned into hurricanes with winds reaching 74 mph or greater, and three major hurricanes Category 3 or higher with sustained winds of at least 111 mph. It's important to note that most of these hurricanes do not make landfall on the Turks and Caicos.

Vacation Considerations

On average, a hurricane hits the Turks and Caicos every seven years and passes in the vicinity of the island every two years. Statistically speaking, the chances of a hurricane or tropical storm hitting the Turks and Caicos during your visit are very slim. Still, there are choices you can make to lower the risk of a hurricane disrupting your vacation.

Note that three out of four hurricanes and tropical storms occur between August and October, with storm activity peaking in early to mid-September, so plan your travels accordingly, if possible. It is very rainy in the fall, with frequent strong thunderstorms on the west coast that are accompanied by tropical waves and low pressure. 

Should your trip land during hurricane season, and especially during the peak August-to-October period, you should strongly consider buying travel insurance in case your timing is unlucky. Download the hurricane app from the American Red Cross for storm updates and a slew of helpful features.

Recap of Hurricane Season 2018

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season was the third consecutive season said to be above average and more damaging than usual.

First, Hurricane Florence formed off the coast of West Africa in September, lasting almost two weeks and heading to North Carolina, causing at least 55 deaths and ranging from Category 4 to Category 1. Michael, which hit in October, was the second major hurricane of the season, and the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the continental U.S. since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Michael caused catastrophic damage when it hit the Florida Panhandle with maximum sustained wind speeds of 161 mph.

Predictions for the 2019 Season

Weather stations and meteorological organizations frequently predict how they expect the next hurricane season to look based on data from previous years. But these predictions are, of course, not always accurate.

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expected a "near-normal" Atlantic hurricane season is expected in 2019, with 15 or fewer named storms with winds of 39 mph or more. Four to eight of these could turn into hurricanes of 74 mph or greater and two to four could turn into major Category 3, 4, or 5 storms, NOAA claims.
  • Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) predicted "slightly below-norm activity" this season.
  • Forecasters from AccuWeather stated that 2019 would have a near to slightly above-normal season with 12 to 14 storms. Five to seven of those could turn into hurricanes, and two to four of those storms could become major hurricanes.
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