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Extreme weather: hurricane facts and advice for travellers

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.

Hurricane facts



  • 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.

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