What are the chances a hurricane will ruin your summer trip? In the Atlantic Basin—including the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico—chances hover somewhere between below average and average. That's according to annual hurricane season predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and The Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. The peak of the season occurs from August through October, with maximum activity in early and mid-September.
NOAA calls for a 50-percent probability of a near-normal season, a 25 percent chance of an above-normal season, and a 25 percent chance of a below-normal hurricane season. That breaks down to one to three major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5) and nine to 14 named storms (storms get a name once they have sustained winds of at least 39 mph) in the Atlantic basin this hurricane season.
The Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University is predicting a slightly less active than average 2009 hurricane season, with 11 named storms, and two major hurricanes. It puts the probability of a major hurricane making landfall on U.S. soil at slightly below average.
I was skeptical about how accurate a hurricane prediction could be, but according to the folks at Colorado State University, while it's nearly impossible to precisely predict hurricane activity for a season, scientists have a model for making a pretty good guess at whether a hurricane season will be active or inactive.
The moral of this story for travelers? If you're planning a trip to a hurricane-prone destination this summer or fall, check for airline and resort hurricane refund policies. And consider getting travel insurance, though be aware that coverage can be limited.