Travel AlertU.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Consular Affairs
This information is current as of today,
May 29, 2009
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the Hurricane Season in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. The official Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June through November. This Travel Alert expires on December 4, 2009.
National Weather Service officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predict a 50 percent chance that activity during the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season will be near-normal this year, forecasting nine to fourteen named storms, with four to seven becoming hurricanes and one to three becoming major hurricanes. NOAA recommends that those in hurricane-prone regions begin preparations at this time for the upcoming season.
In the aftermath of some previous storms, U.S. citizens have encountered uncomfortable and often dangerous conditions that have lasted for several days while awaiting transportation back to the United States. In the past, many U.S. citizens traveling abroad to affected regions have been forced to delay their return to the United States due to infrastructure damage to airports and limited flight availability. In many cases, flights were suspended and passengers faced long delays due to the need to repair a damaged airport. Roads also were washed out or obstructed by debris, adversely affecting access to airports and land routes out of affected areas. Reports of looting and sporadic violence in the aftermath of natural disasters are not uncommon. Security personnel may not be readily available to assist at all times. In the event of a hurricane, travelers should be aware that they may not be able to depart the area for 24-48 hours or more.
Should a situation require an evacuation from an overseas location, the State Department will work with commercial airlines to ensure that U.S. citizens are repatriated as safely and efficiently as possible. Commercial airlines are the Department's primary source of transportation in an evacuation; other means of transport are utilized only as a last resort. The Department of State will not provide no-cost transportation, but does have the authority to provide repatriation loans to those in financial need. U.S. citizens should obtain travel insurance to cover unexpected expenses during an emergency.
U.S. citizens living in or traveling to storm-prone regions overseas should prepare for hurricanes and tropical storms by organizing a kit containing a supply of bottled water, non-perishable food items, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, and vital documents (especially passport and other identification) in a waterproof container. Emergency shelters often have access only to basic resources and limited medical and food supplies.
U.S. citizens should monitor local radio, local media, and the National Weather Service to stay aware of any weather developments in their area. Minor tropical storms can develop into hurricanes very quickly, limiting the time available for a safe evacuation. Travelers should apprise family and friends of their whereabouts and keep in close contact with their tour operator, hotel staff, and local officials for evacuation instructions in the event of a weather emergency.
U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the Department of State's travel registration website. By registering, American citizens can receive the Embassy's most recent security and safety updates during their trip. Registration also ensures that U.S. citizens can be reached should an emergency arise either abroad or at home. While consular officers will do their utmost to assist Americans in a crisis, travelers always should be aware that local authorities bear primary responsibility for the welfare of people living or traveling in their jurisdictions.
Additional information on hurricanes and storm preparedness may be found on the Hurricane Season 2009 page of the Bureau of Consular Affairs' website or in the " Hurricane Season - Know Before You Go" pamphlet. Updated information on travel in the Caribbean may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States and Canada or, from outside the United States and Canada, 1-202-501-4444. Travelers to the region are encouraged to check the Internet site of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with consular responsibilities for the territory they will be visiting (accessible via http://usembassy.state.gov/). For further information please consult the Country Specific Information Sheet for the country or territory in question, available via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov.