Venturing into hurricane territory at the height of the storm season is always risky—and it may be getting riskier. For the sixth straight year, the National Weather Service is predicting above-average activity: out of 11 named storms, seven should develop into hurricanes, three of which will be major. Historically, the average has been 10, 6, and 2, respectively.
That could make for a particularly stormy fall. Hurricane season peaks in September, the month in which recent monster storms—Floyd (1999), Georges (1998), Fran (1996)—all hit.
What can you expect if you're heading to hurricane-prone areas?"In the past, we've brought in extra planes to move people out," says Delta Air Lines spokeswoman Alesia Watson. In the case of canceled or delayed flights due to hurricanes, most airlines waive all fees and restrictions; passengers can rebook at the same price. Hotels are similarly accommodating: guests stranded beyond their check-out dates at the Round Hill Hotel & Villas in Jamaica, for example, stay free of charge until they can travel, says Josef Forstmayr, the resort's managing director. If you can't get there because of a hurricane, Round Hill refunds deposits and waives all cancellation fees. At the Hilton Oceanfront Resort in Hilton Head, South Carolina, all deposits are returned, and guests who must check out early pay only for the nights they've stayed.
Even if this year isn't as stormy as predicted, take note: because of a cyclical pattern of warmer temperatures and higher saline content in the Atlantic Ocean, Professor William Gray, a hurricane forecaster at Colorado State University, is expecting above-average storm activity for the next 20 years.