Know Before You Go: Hurricanes

Travel Tips — By Julie on May 19, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Frequently Asked Questions

June 1 is the start of the 2011 hurricane season. What does that mean if you are traveling to the Florida Keys?  Here are some helpful, frequently asked questions to offset any worries as you plan for travel to the Keys between June 1 and Nov. 30, the end of the season.

Example of a hurricane graphic from 2004.

What is a Hurricane?

The terms “hurricane” and “typhoon” are region-specific names for a strong tropical cyclone. A tropical cyclone is the generic term for a low-pressure weather system formed over tropical or subtropical waters with thunderstorm activity and surface wind circulation. Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained surface winds of less than 39 mph are called tropical depressions. Once a tropical cyclone reaches winds of at least 39 mph it is typically called a tropical storm and assigned a name. In the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, once the winds reach 74 mph, the system is called a hurricane. There are five categories of hurricane, with Category 1 considered minimal and 5 the most severe.

When Is Hurricane Season?

Between June 1 and Nov. 30. Historically, the chances of hurricane activity are greater between August 15 and October 1. During the past 100 years, the historical average frequency of a hurricane impacting somewhere in the state of Florida is once every two years. In the Keys, the historical 100-year average frequency of a hurricane of any category impacting is one in every 4.5 years.

Can I Travel to the Florida Keys During Hurricane Season?

Absolutely. The Keys are very popular with vacationers in the summer and fall months. In fact, most visitors from the United Kingdom and Europe visit during that period. Many great events are scheduled in the Keys during that time, and late summer, early fall typically offer the best vacation values, because school is back in session and family vacationing is at a lull. Historically, the chances are excellent that your Keys vacation will not be interrupted by a hurricane.

What Do I Do If I Am in the Florida Keys and a Hurricane Threatens the Region?

Throughout the summer and fall, Keys emergency management officials keep in constant touch with the National Hurricane Center, based in Miami. And the Keys tourism council has a formal communications program, in cooperation with emergency officials, to let visitors know of any need to evacuate. Local media reports and official information sent to lodging facilities provide updates and details about possible evacuation orders. If you hear of a storm threat, check with the registration office, visit the Florida Keys Web site at or, while in the Keys, call the visitor assistance line at 1-800-771-KEYS. Should a storm threaten, for safety reasons, visitors are always asked to leave the Keys first. Although emergency officials will err on the side of caution, evacuation orders are only given if there is a significant storm threat.

For more information, visit

Tags: Florida Keys, Florida Keys and Key West, hurricane season, Key Largo, Key West, tropical cyclone

    1 Comment

  • Jose Bellessa says:

    Thanks for the post! I’m new into the world of online contributers, So i’ll just follow the basics. Great put up, I really apriciate your time and effort and information.


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