Tropical storms and hurricanes are on the increase, with serious implications for travellers and travel organisers.
Ian Taylor presents key facts and advice about hurricanes part of a feature on extreme weather and the tourism industry.
- North Atlantic storms with sustained winds of 74mph and above are deemed hurricanes and categorised one to five by wind speed.
- Tropical storms have winds of 39-73mph.
- A category four has winds of up to 155mph and is capable of 100 times the damage of a category one.
- A storm surge poses the greatest threat. Flooding is responsible for more than half the deaths associated with hurricanes in the US.
- The hurricane season lasts from June to November, and is getting longer. Peak season is mid-August to October.
- There are twice as many hurricanes a year on average as there were 100 years ago.
Hurricane seasons since 2004
- 2004: Nine hurricanes and 15 named storms, described by the US National Hurricane Center as “well above-normal activity”.
- 2005: Fifteen hurricanes and 28 tropical storms, the most since records began. The last storm formed on December 30.
- 2006: Five hurricanes, nine tropical storms.
- 2007: Six hurricanes – two major – and eight tropical storms.
- 2008 forecast: Up to nine hurricanes, perhaps five of them major.
Advice for travel agents
- Check tropicalstormrisk.com daily during hurricane season.
- Check the Foreign Office website each morning – fco.gov.uk.
- Provide out-of-hours numbers to clients and make someone accessible at all times.
- Ensure you have customer numbers.
- Be ready to tell customers not to go to the airport.
Advice for travellers
- Check FCO country travel advice.
- Buy a package and/or ensure you are fully insured.
- Ensure you have agent’s/tour operator’s contact details.
- Follow local advice and take shelter/evacuate as ordered.
- Remember airports and hotels may close in advance of a hurricane.