The ABTA Destination Services team has issued the following to provide you with some key facts about hurricanes and some useful links which will help you monitor and plan for the 2014 hurricane season.
The Atlantic and Eastern Pacific hurricane season generally runs from June through until the end of November. The Atlantic basin includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. The Eastern Pacific basin extends to 140° west.
During the hurricane season significant tropical cyclone weather systems may occur, these are generally categorised as follows:
A hurricane is a rotating, organised system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and has a closed low-level circulation. They rotate counter clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere.
A hurricane has three key elements to its structure, the rain bands, the eye, and the eye wall.
To be classified as a hurricane, typhoon or cyclone the highest sustained wind speed needs to be at least 64 knots (74 mph). The eye of the storm is usually 20-30 miles wide. Typical hurricanes are about 300 miles (483 km) wide although they can vary considerably.
Hurricanes are difficult to predict with accuracy, as they can change course, speed and intensity suddenly. However they tend to form in areas where the sea surface water is of a high temperature (at least 27◦C).
Organisations such as the National Hurricane centre use a variety of tools such as satellite imaginary, buoys and aircraft reconnaissance to identify and predict the size, scale, wind speeds, rain accumulation and forecast track of the weather systems.
The Saffir Simpson scale categorises hurricanes on a scale from 1-5 on the basis of maximum sustained wind. The primary purpose is to give an easy indication of the likely level of damage that will be caused by an individual hurricane.
Maximum sustained wind speed of 64-82 knots (74 -94 mph). They tend to cause no significant damage to well-constructed buildings but some coastal flooding is possible.
Maximum sustained wind speed of 83-95 knots (96-109 mph). They tend to cause a small amount of
damage to well-constructed buildings i.e. roof, door and window damage. They will also cause significant damage to trees. Flooding with a Cat 2 hurricane is more likely.
Maximum sustained wind speed of 96-113 knots (110-130 mph). They tend to cause structural damage to well-constructed buildings and large trees could be up rooted. Coastal areas can flood up to 3-5 hours before the centre of the storm reaches the destination.
Maximum sustained wind speed of 114-135 knots (131-155 mph). Hurricanes of this size tend to cause substantial damage to well-constructed structures and buildings. Trees are likely to be blown down and flooding is likely.
Maximum sustained wind speed of over 135 knots (155 mph). Hurricanes of this size tend to cause severe damage to well-constructed structures and buildings and they are likely to cause some loss of life.
If you have programmes within areas where hurricanes are common place, the ABTA Destination Services team advise that if you have not already done so, you should develop emergency procedures to manage such events.
This should include; liaising with your handling agents, suppliers and accommodation providers to understand the procedures in place for the areas that you feature, and ascertain for example, where the shelters are located and what safety information is available for customers to follow in the event of a hurricane.
In the event of a hurricane, the FCO will regularly update the travel advice for the countries in the predicted path. The FCO would only advise against travel to an area or region if it was considered that the risks of travelling there were too high.
The ABTA Destination Services team will be monitoring the hurricane activities during the season and we will notify you of any significant forecasts which you may need to be aware of.
If you need assistance during this hurricane season, please do not hesitate to contact us on email firstname.lastname@example.org.