Hurricane Season Begins – Tips for Travelers

June 1 marks the start of the Atlantic hurricane season – the Eastern Pacific hurricane season got underway May 15 – and both run through mid-November.

What You Need to Know about Hurricane Season

Hurricane Forecast: 1 to 3 Major Hurricanes

Although forecasters at the National Hurricane Center predict “near-normal” activity for both regions, that could mean plenty of bad weather. Here’s a partial list of what the scientists’ say we can expect:

  • 70 percent chance of 9 to 15 named storms (with winds of 39 mph or more)
  • 4 to 8 storms becoming hurricanes (with winds of 74 mph or more)
  • 1 to 3 hurricanes becoming major hurricanes (with winds of 111 mph or more)

The weather forecasters also note that, “Based on the period 1981-2010, an average season produces 12 named storms with six hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.”

Why You Don’t have to Worry about Lightning

Hurricanes: Not Just in Florida

Hurricanes are rare but powerful events, and are important considerations for summer travelers visiting Florida and the Caribbean. However, they can and do crop up almost anywhere.

Just last summer, for example, Hurricane Irene slammed into the greater New York City area, where authorities shut down all the major airports including LaGuardia, JFK and Newark.

Hurricane Irene Slams into New York

How Airlines are Becoming More Helpful

Fortunately for travelers, the airlines have become much more pro-active to bad weather in recent years. In most circumstances, they alert passengers in advance about the problem and waive the expensive change fee that is usually tacked on to any changes made to airline tickets. Instead, they typically offered a choice of cancelation without penalty or moving travel plans to specified dates.

Bad Weather: What You Need to Know

What to Know and What to Do about Bad Weather

However, travelers should know that such courtesies are not always extended for delays caused by everyday bad weather. A few things travelers must know:

  • The cheapest airfare is usually not refundable.
  • Most airlines do not offer hotel or meal vouchers during bad weather delays.
  • If an airline cancels your flight, you may be offered a refund or alternate dates.
  • If you face delays/cancelations, immediately get in line at the gate to speak to an agent, and at the same time, call the airline.

The key to getting one of the few available seats on the next flight out is being first in line.

Flight Insurance

Many passengers wonder if travel insurance is the way to go, and for some travelers it may be a life-saver. However, all FareCompare recommends is that potential buyers of such products read the fine print carefully – know what the policy covers, and just as important, know what it does not cover. Tip: if you cannot get your potential insurer to answer all your questions fully and immediately, we strongly consider you look for another insurance company.

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Published: May 31, 2012