Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones

You should carefully consider the potential dangers and inconveniences of traveling to storm-prone regions of the world. If you go, make an emergency plan beforehand. Even inland areas far from the coastline can experience destructive winds, tornadoes, mudslides, and floods from storms. 

What are hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones? Which regions are affected by them and what is the impact of these storms?

Hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones are all the same weather phenomenon – they are storms which have a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that start up over tropical or subtropical waters.  They are all “tropical cyclones” but are called different things based on where in the world the storm originated:

  • Hurricanes – Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific Ocean
  • Typhoons – Northwest Pacific Ocean
  • Cyclones – South Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean

Storm surges, high winds, heavy rain, flooding, mudslides, and tornadoes can cause extreme storm damage. There may be widespread damage to infrastructure (such as roads, electricity, and phone and internet service), and serious shortages of habitable accommodations, food, water, and medical facilities. Storms can result in airport closures or limited flight availability due to runway or terminal damage and a shortage of electricity. U.S. citizens in affected regions may face delays returning home, and may even need to stay in emergency shelters with limited food, water, medicine, and other supplies.

When is storm season?

Generally speaking, storm seasons are:

  • Hurricanes – June to November
  • Typhoons – April-December
  • Cyclones – November to April

While these are the times when storms are most likely to happen, it is possible for intense storms to occur outside of these ranges. Additionally, the past several years have seen an overall increase in the quantity and intensity of storms, particularly in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.

How can I prepare?

Before you go, sign up for our  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  Enrolling your trip in STEP allows you to receive important information about safety conditions in your destination and helps the U.S. embassy or consulate contact you in an emergency.

While traveling during storm season, stay aware of developments by monitoring local media and the National Hurricane Center for news and weather reports. Minor storms can quickly become hurricanes, limiting the time to get out. If a weather emergency occurs, stay in touch with your tour operator, hotel staff, and local authorities for evacuation instructions. It could save your life.

For more information and resources, see Natural Disasters.