Caribbean hurricane season is prime time for landing a deal. Sure, there’s some risk involved, but with smart planning and a bit of luck you can end up with a sunny and affordable tropical vacation … or get a refund if Mother Nature is seriously uncooperative.
Here are tips from meteorologists, a travel insurance agent and other experts who offered advice on where to go, where to avoid and how to hedge your bets once you’ve booked your trip during Caribbean hurricane season.
The season of savings
Each year, an average of 12 tropical storms whirl through the Caribbean, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico during hurricane season (officially June 1 through Nov. 30). Six of those storms will become hurricanes, according to data from the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Hurricane season peaks from mid-August to late October. During this intense period bands of thunderstorms near the equator drift over the region’s warm waters, giving hurricanes the ability to develop.
If you’re willing to take the risk, the rewards are numerous. Sylma Brown, director of the Caribbean Tourism Organization USA Inc., says hotel savings are up to 50%, airfare is typically lower, beaches are less crowded and temperatures stay in the mid to upper 80s.
Spots most likely to be hit
There’s a science to dodging the Caribbean hurricane season. The areas most likely to get hit are those where the ocean happens to be warming the quickest from late spring to fall.
NOAA meteorologists have mapped these hotspots month by month and determined the places at highest risk of a tropical storm or hurricane by percentage in any given month.