Hurricanes

What to do if a hurricane is coming?Satellite image of Hurricane Georges. © Stocktrek/Getty Images

It is difficult to accurately predict where and when a hurricane will strike, as they often veer off-course when nearing land.

If you are in a hurricane region during the hurricane season:

  • regularly check or subscribe to our country travel advice
  • monitor local radio and TV
  • keep in touch with your travel/tour operator
  • register with the local British Embassy
  • follow local advice – and leave the area if advised
  • remember that airports and hotels may shut down if a hurricane approaches

Hurricanes can seriously damage and disrupt a country’s infrastructure. It may take time for airports to re-open, and there may be serious shortages of accommodation, food, water and health facilities.

Our ability to help British nationals may be limited (perhaps severely) in these circumstances.

In the event of a hurricane, local governments may set up emergency shelters, but these are primarily for the local population and conditions are normally basic.

Hurricane seasons and regions

Hurricanes, also called typhoons and tropical cyclones, usually occur at predictable times of year in distinct parts of the world:

  • Atlantic/Caribbean - the hurricane season is normally from June - November (averages 8-15 storms per season)
  • Pacific/South East Asia region - the tropical cyclone season is normally from May – November (averages 15-20 storms per season)
  • South Pacific and Australia - the tropical cyclone season is normally from November – April (averages 10-20 storms per season)
  • Northern India - normally from April - June and September – November
  • East Coast of Africa - normally from November - April

Hurricanes in the Atlantic/Caribbean region can strike the northern coasts of South American countries, Central America countries and southern states of the United States (USA).

How are hurricanes ranked?

The USA uses the Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale to estimate the potential flooding and damage caused by a hurricane.

This ranges from 1 (Minimal) to 5 (Catastrophic).

The National Hurricane Center website has more information about the scale.

What is the difference between a hurricane, typhoon, or tropical cyclone?

There is no difference. Hurricanes and typhoons are regionally specific names for a severe tropical cyclone.

Wind speed is used to categorise a tropical cyclone:

  • less than 34 knots (39mph) - tropical depression
  • more than 34 knots - tropical storm and given a name

more than 64 knots (74mph) - designated either a hurricane, typhoon, severe tropical cyclone, severe cyclonic storm or tropical cyclone depending where it is in the world

See Also

Useful Links

Met Office - provides information on weather conditions

National Hurricane Office - US national agency which monitors hurricanes

Ferderal Emergency Management Office  - US goverment department responsible for disaster recovery

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