Don't Cancel Your Caribbean Trip Just Yet
Hurricane season in the Caribbean begins in early summer and lasts until early winter. The dangers are real, but, fortunately for sun worshippers, rare. If you plan your trip with thought and keep your eye on the weather, you and your family can enjoy your time lazing on beautiful beaches without too much concern.
When is Hurricane Season?
Caribbean hurricane season begins on June 1 and ends on November 30. While it’s possible to predict how many tropical storms or hurricanes may swirl through the region, it’s impossible to guarantee the number of storms or when they’ll occur.
Over the course of four decades, the average number of yearly tropical storms in the area was 11, with six turning into hurricanes. That number includes hurricanes not only in the Caribbean, but also in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean.
In a tropical storm, winds may be as high as 73 mph. Above that wind speed, storms become hurricanes, but it’s not just high winds that are dangerous. Other hazards include storm surges, heavy rain and tornadoes.
Should I Bring the Kids?
It’s unlikely that a major hurricane will strike while you’re on your Caribbean vacation, but there are a few things you can do to keep your family safe. Most resort hotels are designed for, or have been retrofitted for, heavy storms. Ask if your destination has a hurricane plan in place and if the resort has been “hardened” for high winds or storm surges. No one will think you’re silly for asking.
The southernmost Caribbean destinations are least likely to be affected by major storms. Consider planning a trip to Aruba, Trinidad, Tobago or Barbados.
Make a plan with your children for what they should do if a hurricane approaches. Explain that they need to stay indoors, safe from flying debris, and that they should immediately head to safety if you’re separated.
Buy travel insurance if you’re planning a trip during September and early October—peak hurricane season. Ask for a policy that reimburses for airfare and lodging if you have to cancel your trip because of an impending storm.
If your destination offers a hurricane guarantee, read it carefully. It may cover only part of your expenses.
Don’t depend solely on your hotel or resort to keep you up-to-date on the weather. They should have warning systems in place, but may not. Check with the National Hurricane Center before you leave home and again at your destination. The Center posts five-day forecasts.
Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.