The National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasts each hurricane season based on probability, but of course there is no reliable way to accurately predict when and where a hurricane will reach land.
According to the NHC, it’s nearly impossible to determine a storm’s approach any sooner than 5 or 7 days in advance – a fact that is not very reassuring if you’re planning a trip months (or even weeks) in advance.
The full hurricane season is June 1st to November 30th for the Atlantic and the Caribbean each year, and the Eastern Pacific hurricane season starts in mid-May.
The peak months for hurricanes in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Pacific are August through early October.
The peak months for hurricanes in the southern hemisphere (Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii) are March and April.
The months before and after the peak months, specifically May, June, July, and November, are the least active for hurricanes in the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Caribbean. While these are the ‘least active’ months for hurricanes, it’s still possible for a hurricane to occur during these months.
Hurricanes develop after going through the following stages:
A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when sustained winds reach 74 miles per hour or higher.
It can be risky to travel during hurricane season months. Hurricanes cause disruptions like canceled flights, power losses, and road and bridge closures. You may be separated from your luggage, unable to reach your destination, and even routed to an unexpected location. Most of these disruptions won’t come with any compensation.
Neither the airlines or cruise lines are required to compensate passengers for travel problems due to weather. If you can’t cancel your hotel or vacation rental in time, you could lose those payments as well.
It probably comes as no surprise that Florida has been hit by the most hurricanes of any state in the US and the second most hurricane-prone state is Texas. Most hurricanes occur in southern states, but don’t forget hurricane Irene in 2011.
Hurricane Irene taught us that you don’t have to be in a southern climate to be affected. Flood damage extended as far north as the metro New York area. Rail services were disrupted in Pennsylvania and bridges were out in Vermont. And travel disruptions continued for weeks and months after.
If your travel follows soon after a hurricane, the condition of your location might be less than you’d like. Beaches can be destroyed or closed, pools can be filled with sand and debris, and hotels can be water-logged or moldy.
Of course, the travel deals during hurricane season can be tempting. Curious what travel insurance to buy if you’re traveling during hurricane season? Watch the short video at the top of this article.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.