Frequently Asked Questions On Travel During Hurricane Season

FAQ About Traveling During Hurricane Season
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Florida’s balmy breezes and warm sunshine have made it a popular tourist destination. But when hurricane season hits, travelers need to prepare and be flexible. What should you do if a hurricane is approaching while you’re vacationing in Florida? How will a hurricane impact your hotel stay, flights, or beach visits?

Our guide answers the most frequently asked questions on traveling in Florida during hurricane season. Keep these vital tips in mind to avoid inconveniences and stay safe!

What Is A Hurricane?

A hurricane is a fast-rotating storm system with wind speeds of 74 miles per hour or more. It’s also known in the Indian Ocean as a cyclone, or as a typhoon in the western Pacific Ocean. This powerful storm is formed by light winds, smaller thunderstorms, and warm water. Once formed, these produce heavy rain and violent winds.

Hurricanes are classified into categories depending on the strength of their winds, with Category 1 being the weakest and Category 5 being the strongest. This scale helps residents in hurricane-prone states determine the potential impact on property and the likelihood of flooding. Here is the scale as follows, according to their maximum sustained winds:

  • Category 1: 74 to 95 mph
  • Category 2: 96 to 110 mph
  • Category 3: 111 to 130 mph
  • Category 4: 131 to 155 mph
  • Category 5: 165 or greater mph

Hurricanes formed in the Atlantic basin are named by the National Hurricane Center to prevent confusion about forecasts and for ease of communication, especially for warnings. Keep an eye out for hurricane warnings during the Atlantic hurricane season of June 1 to November 30. Mid-August to mid-October is considered the peak of this season, when thunderstorms and hurricanes are more likely to form.

Tropical Storm, Depression, And Disturbance: What’s The Difference?

Sometimes there are winds and thunderstorms that gather over warm seas to form a storm system, but aren’t strong enough to be classified as a hurricane. The weakest of these is a tropical disturbance, which can result in heavy rain and powerful breezes but doesn’t have a defined circulation.

A tropical depression is also an organized group of thunderstorms and clouds, but it has a defined, circular wind circulation and maximum sustained winds that are less than 39 mph. A tropical storm is the same, but with maximum sustained winds of approximately 39 mph to 73 mph.

What’s The Difference Between Watches And Warnings?

Watches and warnings differ based on the storm system they’re reporting and the time frame to prepare for impact. Here’s a quick breakdown of the watches and warnings issued by Miami’s National Hurricane Center:

  • Tropical storm watch: This is issued when a storm system with a defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39 mph to 73 mph poses a possible threat to a specific coastal area within 48 hours.
  • Tropical storm warning: This is issued when a tropical storm poses a potential danger to a specific coastal area within 36 hours or sooner.
  • Hurricane watch: This is issued when a hurricane is expected to arrive at a specified coastal area within 48 hours.
  • Hurricane warning: This is issued when a hurricane is expected to arrive at a specified coastal area within 36 hours or sooner.

Where Can I Get Real-Time Updates On Hurricanes?

You can get real-time travel advisories from Visit Florida, local tourism offices, as well as these official government sites:

How Hurricanes Can Impact Your Travel Plans

Hurricanes are devastating natural events that can seriously hamper travel and damage infrastructure. Here are some of the ways that these storm systems can have on your travel plans.

  • Flights may be canceled. For the safety of crew and passengers, many airlines will cancel flights.
  • Cruises could be canceled or rerouted. Cruise companies are used to sailing during Florida storms and will often opt to reroute the cruise path instead. However, if a storm makes it too difficult for a ship to make it to port before it can embark, it’s likely that the trip will be cancelled. Call the cruise company to find out if you should rebook.
  • Theme parks may operate at reduced capacity or close down. Depending on the strength of the predicted storm, nearby theme parks may still continue to operate.
  • Beaches could be closed for public safety. Beaches may be closed to the public if a storm or hurricane is expected to make landfall. Even after the hurricane has passed, beaches could still be closed to give people time to clear the shore of debris and repair facilities.

Tips When You’re Traveling During Hurricane Season

Planning a trip to the Sunshine State during hurricane season? Keep these in mind to minimize inconveniences and protect yourself during your vacation.

Monitor Weather Predictions

Even if a tropical depression or storm warning has been issued and tourist attractions are still open, weather conditions can change at the drop of a hat. Those strong but bearable winds may quickly pick up speed and lead to flood warnings, so monitor local radio and TV for real-time updates.

Get Travel Insurance

Some airlines, hotels, or other travel attractions consider hurricanes a “force majeure” event, which is a natural event that they can’t control. Check booking terms and conditions to find out what the refunding or cancelation policies are.

Many places won’t refund cancelations due to a force majeure event, but travel insurance can cover these trip costs so you aren’t out of pocket for your next trip. Note that travel insurance policies typically only offer hurricane coverage if you buy insurance at least 24 hours before the hurricane is named.

Be Prepared to Postpone Your Trip

Even if a hurricane occurs before you visit Florida, it may be wiser to rebook your hotel and flight arrangements for another weekend. Hurricanes can have longer-term consequences that can take weeks or even months to recover from. Hotels may not have reopened yet, and multiple properties may still be undergoing repair. Utilities may still be strained, putting pressure on exhausted residents.

Stay Informed And Enjoy Safe Travels

Tropical storms and hurricanes can impact your travel plans, but with swift preparation, you can cancel or rebook with minimal fuss. Ask your hotel or airline for their advisories if a hurricane is expected to make landfall in Florida. If you’re already there, check the TV or radio for news. These channels can help you keep an eye out for watches and warnings, as well as any calls for evacuation.

**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

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