Don't Let Hurricane Season Ruin Your Vacation Plans

By Molly Cochran, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
7/9/2013 12:09:11 PM

White sandy beaches and abundant sunshine attract many people to East Coast shores and tropical places every summer, but there is a risk that a tropical system could impact those travel plans.

Already this season, there have been three named storms in 2013. Tropical Storm Andrea developed in the Gulf of Mexico and was named a tropical storm on June 5, 2013, and Tropical Storm Barry developed June 17, 2013, in the Caribbean Sea. With the tropics heating up and the third named storm, Tropical Storm Chantal, moving toward the Caribbean, taking proactive measures could save your getaway.

AccuWeather.com meteorologists predict four major hurricanes this season in the Atlantic Basin with three of those hurricanes expected to make landfall on the United States.

July hurricanes usually form in the Caribbean and along the East Coast, according to AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Paul Walker. During the peak of hurricane season, between August and October, the most likely place for hurricanes to develop is off the coast of Africa, through the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and along the eastern coast of the U.S. This is due to a combination of warmer water temperatures and the waves that come off of Africa, according to Walker.

Knowing where hurricanes could potentially form could help determine travel plans and keep you informed of changing conditions. Walker suggests being aware of developing storms and consider taking a cruise. Cruise vacations have the ability to reroute away from storms.

Vacationers that decide to travel to Florida or other coastal locations during the summer months could be impacted by a hurricane. However, Brian Martin, corporate communications director for visitorlando.com, says that the reward outweighs the risk. According to Martin, Orlando hasn't been impacted by a hurricane since 2004.

"The best time to come to Orlando is in September and that is the peak of hurricane season," he said. September is the best time to come to Orlando because the amount of tourists has diminished.

Conversely, March is the height of tourism in Tampa, Fla. In March 2012, the city had 556,615 visitors according to Visit Tampa Bay Public Relations Coordinator Leah Saunders.

August had 442,000 visitors in 2012. Santiago Corrada, President and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, said that safety is their biggest priority when it comes to people who live in or travel to Tampa Bay.

"Hurricane season is a reality, but not a limitation on travel to Florida. We know Mother Nature is unpredictable, but of all weather occurrences, hurricanes provide the most predictability," he said.

During the summer months, most hotels near Orlando offer a 24-hour policy for cancellation if a hurricane is approaching. If there are evacuations where the hotel is, usually your reservation is forgiven, according to Martin.

Some hotels in Orlando offer discounted rates when a hurricane threatens the coast because they know people will evacuate inland toward Orlando, Martin said.

Martin points out that there is a risk for weather with any destination people choose.

Dennis Feltgen, spokesperson for the National Hurricane Center, said that the risk of a hurricane affecting travel plans is a nationwide issue from Brownsville, Texas, to Portland, Maine. However, the probability of a hurricane affecting a vacation is minimal.

Feltgen suggests if you are traveling to a hurricane-prone zone, purchase traveler insurance and make sure the hotel has a plan, in the event that you must extend your stay due to inclement weather.

Checking to see if the hotel you are staying at has a hurricane policy, such as canceling without penalty or if refunds are available, is always a good idea.

Walt Disney World resort allows guests who have booked with Walt Disney Travel Company Magic Your Way, reservations at Disney's Vero Beach Resort or Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort to call within seven days of their arrival date when a hurricane warning is issued to cancel or reschedule their vacation without penalty, according to their website.

For more information on how to "hurricane-proof," your vacation visit our partner at TravelandLesiure.com.