Hurricane Season — Know Before You Go
Hurricane Season in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico
“Know Before You Go!”
American citizens considering travel to storm-prone regions during Hurricane Season should carefully weigh the risks versus benefits of their trip before finalizing plans. Those who choose to travel should devise emergency plans in the event of a major storm. Even inland areas, well away from the coastline, can experience destructive winds, tornadoes, and floods from tropical storms and hurricanes.
See also the Public Announcement for the Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico
What regions are affected by Hurricane Season and how?
Hurricanes can strike the islands of the Caribbean, the northern coast of South America, Central America including Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, as well as the eastern half of the United States. Hurricane damage is caused by storm surge, high winds, heavy rain, flooding, mud slides, and tornadoes.
Regions affected by hurricanes and tropical storms may experience widespread damage to infrastructure, and serious shortages of habitable accommodations, food, water, and medical facilities. Storms can cause the closure of airports or limit flight availability, due to the lack of electricity, and runway or terminal damage. Americans in affected regions may be required to delay their return to the United States while staying in emergency shelters with basic resources and limited medicine and food supplies.
When is Hurricane Season?
Hurricane Season runs from the beginning of June to the end of November. The past several years have seen an increase in the quantity and intensity of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. In 2005, there were 27 named storms and 15 hurricanes; the most violent of these were Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, which wreaked widespread havoc, caused billions of dollars in infrastructure damage and resulted in thousands of fatalities.
How can I prepare?
Prior to departure, Americans should register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case an emergency arises. While Consular Officers will do their utmost to assist Americans in a crisis, travelers should always be aware that when they are abroad, local authorities bear primary responsibility for the welfare of people living or traveling in their jurisdictions. For more information, please visit the State Department’s website on Crisis Abroad.
Americans traveling during the hurricane season should monitor local radio and other sources of information, such as the National Hurricane Center, to stay aware of any weather developments in the area. Minor tropical storms can develop into hurricanes very quickly, limiting the time available for a safe evacuation. Travelers should maintain close contact with their tour operator, hotel staff, and local officials for evacuation instructions in the event of a weather emergency. Please refer to the following “traveler’s checklist” to help you organize an emergency kit.
- Prior to leaving the United States, register your travel plans on the State Department’s travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
- Check with your tour operator, charter flight company, or airline (as appropriate) regarding travel services back to the U.S. in the event of a hurricane, and the possibility of early return if a storm is forecasted for your region.
- Consider obtaining travel insurance to cover unexpected expenses in the event of an emergency.
- Research the region where you’ll be visiting and be familiar with local medical facilities, public transportation, travel agents, and other emergency resources.
- Pack a first-aid kit and water treatment purification tablets.
- Keep extra bottled water and non-perishable food items on hand.
- Keep an up-to-date list of local emergency phone numbers, as well as contact numbers for the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
- Protect your vital travel documents from potential water damage.
- Pack a portable, hand crank or battery-powered weather radio and flashlight with fresh batteries.
- Obtain a cell phone that works internationally to stay in contact with family and friends in the U.S.
- Leave a detailed itinerary and your local contact information with a friend or family member in the U.S.
For additional information on hurricanes and other tropical storms, please visit the State Department’s website on Natural Disasters.
The following websites also contain general information on hurricanes. Please note these are other U.S. Government websites and are not maintained by the U.S. Department of State.