If you're visiting the spectacular tropical Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, you should be aware of the possibility of sudden tropical storms, floods, and even hurricanes.
Even if a storm isn't as strong as Hurricane Maria was in 2017, you could end up spending a few days looking out from your hotel room at a rain-soaked beach. It is helpful to be prepared and learn about how the island is affected by hurricanes, especially if you are traveling during the Atlantic hurricane season.
Hurricane Season in Puerto Rico
Hurricane season typically runs from June 1 to November 30 in Puerto Rico and throughout the Caribbean. This overlaps with peak travel dates during summer holidays for the kids and major national holidays like the Fourth of July and Labor Day in the U.S. Historically many of the storms have taken place in September.
While there is a risk of hurricanes throughout that period, the weather is typically fine for most of the season, which covers a long stretch of time and takes place during the low season for tourism in Puerto Rico.
Hurricane History in Puerto Rico
Even though Puerto Rico is located in the center of a busy hurricane area, the island only experiences an average of one tropical storm every five years, and hurricanes even less often.
Tropical Storm Karen brought flash flooding and high winds to Puerto Rico in September 2019. Hurricane Maria, which made landfall as a Category 5 in September 2017, was immediately regarded as the worst natural disaster ever recorded in Puerto Rico. It was the 10th strongest Atlantic hurricane on record.
Puerto Rico also had severe problems from Category 4 Hurricane Georges in September 1998. Hurricane Hugo, a Category 3 storm in September 1989, caused significant damage, as did the Category 4 San Ciprian hurricane in September 1932. In 1928, the Category 5 San Felipe Segundo hurricane hit Puerto Rico in September, and the storm also known as the Okeechobee hurricane ruined hundreds of thousands of homes.
Considerations for Your Trip
It is up to each visitor to decide if a vacation to Puerto Rico during the hurricane season is worth the risk. Of course, it doesn't take a major hurricane to literally dampen your holiday; if you are traveling during these months you will likely experience days of rain.
If your trip takes place during hurricane season, especially during the peak between August and October, you may want to buy travel insurance. It is also helpful to download the hurricane app from the American Red Cross for storm updates and other features.
Predictions for 2020
While the predictions are not always correct, weather stations and meteorological organizations often forecast the coming hurricane season based on data from previous years. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center expected an extremely active hurricane season for the Atlantic in 2020. The group predicted 19-25 named storms, with seven to 11 of those hurricanes, including three to six major hurricanes By late August 2020, there were already 13 tropical storms. Category 1 Hurricane Hanna became the season's first hurricane of the season in late July.