U.S. citizens considering travel to storm-prone regions should carefully consider the potential dangers and inconveniences associated with their travel before finalizing plans. If you choose to travel, you should devise an emergency plan in advance of your departure. Even inland areas far from the coastline can experience destructive winds, tornadoes, mudslides, and floods from tropical storms.
Hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones are all the same weather phenomenon and called different names in different places. For example, in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, the term “hurricane” is used. The same type of disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a “typhoon” and “cyclones” occur in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.
The storm damage is caused by storm surge, high winds, heavy rain, flooding, mudslides, and tornadoes. Regions affected by tropical storms may experience widespread damage to infrastructure 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 be required to delay their return to the United States while staying in emergency shelters with basic resources and limited medicine and food supplies
Hurricane season runs from the beginning of June to the end of November. However, depending on where it occurs, it may develop outside of these periods. Typhoon season typically runs from April to December, and cyclone season runs from November to April. The past several years have seen an overall increase in the quantity and intensity of hurricanes in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. In 2013, 10 out of 32 named storms became hurricanes, 13 out of 31 named storms became typhoons, and five cyclones developed between 2012 and 2013.
Prior to departure, U.S. citizens should enroll with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s Safe 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 abroad, it is important that you follow local authorities’ instructions concerning security and evacuation; failure to do so has cost people their lives.
U.S. citizens traveling during the hurricane season should monitor local radio and other sources of information, such as the National Hurricane Center, to stay aware of weather developments. Minor tropical storms can develop into hurricanes quickly, limiting the time available for a safe evacuation. Travelers should maintain close contact with their tour operator, hotel staff, and local officials for evacuation instructions in the event of a weather emergency. For additional information on hurricanes and other tropical storms, please visit the State Department’s website on Natural Disasters.