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 the archipelago is affected by the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30. Like the neighboring Bahamas to the north, the British Overseas Territory of Turks and Caicos is vulnerable to hurricanes.

Hurricane Isaias brought minor impacts such as flooding and power outages to Turks and Caicos in July of 2020, but in 2019 and 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 archipelago 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. 

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 

From early August through the end of October is the peak period of the Atlantic hurricane season. The Atlantic basin includes the entire Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Based on historical weather records, a typical season in the Atlantic region experiences about 12 named storms, of which six turn into hurricanes. Three of the six are major hurricanes Category 3 or higher, on average. 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 islands 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 in hurricane season, and especially during the peak August-to-October period, you should strongly consider buying travel insurance in case your timing is unlucky. You may want to also download the hurricane app from the American Red Cross for storm updates and a slew of helpful features.

Recap of Hurricane Season 2019

In 2019, the Turks and Caicos islands were recovering from the damage from the major 2017 Hurricanes Irma and Maria. In addition, after a storm alert in August 2019, Category 5 Hurricane Dorian, the strongest recorded hurricane in the open Atlantic region, missed Turks and Caicos when it veered east and affected the Lesser Antilles, Puerto RicoThe Bahamas, and other areas.

Predictions for the 2020 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 Climate Prediction Center at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) updated its forecasts in early August 2020, expecting an extremely active Atlantic hurricane season for 2020. It suggested about 19 to 25 named storms would take place, seven to 11 of which could become hurricanes and three to six would be major hurricanes. The Category 1 Hurricane Hanna Isaias hit South Texas and Northeastern Mexico in late July, and before August 1, nine tropical storms had already occurred, making records.

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