What you need to know to protect your travels this hurricane season

Jul 29, 2020

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We are well into the North Atlantic hurricane season, and a few tropical storms have already made themselves known.

On Wednesday, the weather services have been busy tracking “Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine,” which is currently positioned to affect the Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, parts of Cuba and the Bahamas, as well as the state of Florida. TPG will watch the development of this storm and report if it causes travel disruptions.

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Understand the hurricane season calendar

Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 — although we’ve experienced storms before and after the official season. The peak of hurricane season is in September, so it’s a good idea to avoid planning a trip to Florida or the Caribbean during this time.

Hurricanes can affect the entire East and Gulf Coasts

But, hurricanes aren’t limited to Florida and the Caribbean, a point that was hammered home in September 2018 with the highly destructive Hurricane Florence that swept through the Carolinas. Thousands of flights were canceled and nine airports shut down entirely as this storm pummeled two critical airline hubs: Charlotte (CLT) and Atlanta (ATL).

Invest in trip insurance

While it’s always a good idea to book flights with a card that provides travel protections, this is especially important during hurricane season. In July 2017, my trip to Japan was involuntarily extended by four days when a typhoon swept through and canceled all flights. Last-minute hotel rates helped push our expenses for the four days over $1,000. Thankfully, I put the flight taxes and fees on my Citi Prestige® Card and our first $1,000 of expenses — $500 per person — were reimbursed. The information for the Citi Prestige card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

When booking travel to storm-prone regions during hurricane season, buy travel insurance — but carefully review what’s covered. Many policies only cover named storms and coverage only kicks in if you purchased your plan in advance of the storm’s formation. For the most peace of mind, add a cancel-for-any-reason insurance policy. It will generally only reimburse 50% to 75% of your trip costs but you can, as its name suggests, cancel for any reason — even if you’re just worried about a storm turning into a hurricane.

Related: Trip delay reimbursement and the credit cards that offer it

The 2020 hurricane season

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its latest advisory early Wednesday morning, July 29.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine is likely to cause heavy rain and dangerous flash flooding on Thursday across the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

The onward track of the storm is less certain due to the lack of a well-defined center. Also, the storm could move over the Greater Antilles later this week, which could alter its track. But, it’s important to be aware of the potentially severe rain and wind impacting some of Cuba, the Bahamas and Florida by week’s end.

Map courtesy of NOAA.
Map courtesy of NOAA.

As only so much forecasting can be done by satellite, Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft are usually scheduled to investigate these disturbances. If you’ve ever wondered about these aircraft, I recently got a chance to tour the inside of both the Air Force and NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft and learn from the crews what it’s like to fly through a hurricane.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Curious if a hurricane is going to share your name this year? Here are the names that will be used this year:

Arthur
Bertha
Cristobal
Dolly
Edouard
Fay
Gonzalo
Hanna
Isaias
Josephine
Kyle
Laura
Marco
Nana
Omar
Paulette
Rene
Sally
Teddy
Vicky
Wilfred

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center predicts a busy hurricane season, saying it’s likely to see between 13 and 19 named storms this year — of which six to 10 might attain hurricane status.

In a normal hurricane season, there are typically a dozen tropical storms, half of which become hurricanes, with three of those becoming major hurricanes with wind speeds exceeding 111 miles per hour.

Additional reporting by Andrea M. Rotondo

Featured image by NOAA/Getty Images

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