Special Advice For Travellers
During The Caribbean Hurricane Season
The official Caribbean hurricane season runs from the 1st June through to 30th November but the hurricanes are not evenly distributed across the region during this time.
Hurricanes occasionally form in May so don't be fooled into believing that they can't form outside these dates.
There are two reasons why you may fortunate enough to avoid a hurricane during your stay in the Caribbeans:
- Even though some hurricanes are large in size, they cannot pass over every Caribbean island.
- Hurricanes prefer to follow a path that takes them away from the equator. So that's why Dutch Caribbean islands Aruba, Bonaire and Curacoa rarely get hit by hurricanes.
Check out the latest infrared satellite image for the Caribbean region below:
Satellite image courtesy of www.noaa.gov/
Eight Basic Facts About Caribbean Hurricanes
- Out of all the regions in the Caribbean, the south-eastern part has the least number of hurricanes and the south-western and the north-east region (The Bahamas) has the most.
- Even though the Caribbean hurricane season is from June to November, there are still times when hurricanes are almost non-existent.
- If you visit the Caribbean in July, you'll be happy to know that hurricanes rarely effect the region.
- There has only been two hurricanes that have formed in the far southern part of the Caribbean during July over the last 118 years, so stick to the region around Aruba if you're planning travel to the Caribbean during this time.
- As shown by the graph below, October has the most frequent occurrence of hurricanes (in the Caribbean basin), while the second most frequent occurrence is in June.
- In May and June (the early part of the Caribbean hurricane season), the majority of hurricanes occur in the western part of the Caribbean. By July, hurricane formation shifts to the Lesser Antilles (i.e. the chain of islands south-east of Puerto Rico). As the season progresses, more hurricanes begin to form, so by August to September, they can occur throughout most of the Caribbean.
- The Caribbean hurricane season reaches its peak during October with the majority of hurricane formation occuring in the western Caribbean.
But don't be fooled into believing you'll be safe elsewhere in the Caribbeans.
The only regions that typically escape the path of hurricanes are those islands located in the far southern parts of the Caribbean.
- If you're thinking of travelling to the Caribbean in October, please take every precaution as the hurricanes tend to reach maximum strength at that time of the year.
Here is a list of additional facts that you can use to help plan your travel destination in the Caribbean region:
- Up to eleven hurricanes can form during the Caribbean hurricane season each year but normally it is around eight.
- The region around the Bahamas has the most frequent occurrence of hurricanes.
- Hurricanes that occur in the far southern parts of the Caribbean are normally not severe and are quite rare.
- In August, hurricanes form once every 22 years approximately in the south-western Caribbean region.
- Hurricanes passing over Puerto Rico are rare - they normally occur once every 20 years (sometimes every 10 years).
- In the region of the French West Indies (i.e. Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy) one hurricane typically passes nearby every 3-4 years.
- Of all the islands in the French West Indies, Guadeloupe has the greatest number of hurricanes averaging one every 2.25 years.
- Ninety nine percent of hurricanes in the Caribbean move from east to west.
- Only one hurricane has travelled from west to east in the last 113 years. So if a hurricane is west of your location, it will most likely be moving away from you.
- Accommodation in the Caribbean hurricane season is quite cheap, so if you want to advantage of this and avoid hurricanes at the same time, one of the safest places to go is the Netherland's Antilles islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacoa off the northern coast of South America.
- Other Caribbean islands that are not normally in the path of hurricanes during the hurricane season are Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada and Barbados.
- Montserrat, located in the West Indies, is normally not in the path of hurricanes in July.
- Barbados is rarely influenced by hurricanes as they tend to pass to the north closer to Guadeloupe and Dominica, this is true even for October.
- If you're planning a trip to Barbados, Barbados gets hit by hurricanes once every 20 years approximately.
- I would also advise that either you or your travel agent arrange a hurricane guarantee for every stage of your trip. In the event of a hurricane, you may be able to obtain free accommodation and travel to cover expenses if you have a hurricane guarantee. Also, please make sure that the company you plan to use for obtaining hurricane guarantees is trustworthy.
- There is now considerable scientific consensus showing that there are less hurricanes forming in the Caribbean region but those that do form are becoming more dangerous. So you must plan your trip carefully so as to minimise any potential safety issues.
So why is October the flavour of the month for hurricanes in the Caribbean?
Put simply, the surface ocean temperatures during October is approximately 1°C warmer (particularly in the far south-western parts of the Caribbean) than any other month of the year. During this time, rainfall increases due to the arrival of the monsoon. All the necessary ingredients are there in the atmospheric soup for a hurricane to form.
There are of course many other factors that contribute to a hurricanes formation, but I will discuss this on another page in the future.
I have deliberately avoided discussing the Caribbean weather on this page. If you want to know what the weather will be like in the Caribbean in the month you plan to travel, then check the above link. As you now know, if you're travelling during the Caribbean hurricane season, you must choose your travel dates carefully.
So why is July the month when hurricanes are least likely to form?
The Caribbean region (particularly in the south-west) becomes dominated by strong easterly winds (i.e. winds coming from the east). These easterly winds arise due an intensifying high pressure system (i.e. an anticyclone) and it's this high pressure system that normally leads to short-term drought-like conditions over the southern Caribbean.
In addition to this, the southern and south-western parts of the Caribbean during July experiences lower than normal sea-surface temperatures because the easterly winds push the warmer surface water toward the equator.
This leaves colder water underneath to rise to the surface. It is this colder water that limits the formation of hurricanes in July. So, the Caribbean hurricane season can technically be broken in half since July is frequently associated with mainly fine weather, more so in the southern and south-western parts of the Caribbean.
Return from Caribbean Hurricane Season to Avoiding Hurricanes