04 September 2019.
Recent events with Hurricane Dorian got me thinking about my last two trips to Florida and the fact that on both occasions I have been caught up in the path of a hurricane! True story. So, it begs the question, have hurricanes and adverse weather become something you should expect when heading to the Sunshine State?
Of course, it depends what time of year you’re wanting to go. Hurricane Season officially ‘operates’ between June and November (peaking between August and October). That doesn’t exactly leave much in the way of ‘risk-free’ travel months! Unfortunately, there’s no escaping the fact that the Florida Panhandle and the countries surrounding the Gulf of Mexico are particularly prone to hurricanes so factor this in when you’re planning when and where to go.
So, what can you expect if you’re unlucky enough to be holidaying when there’s a Hurricane?
Arriving into Orlando in October 2016, we learned that the State of Florida was on ’emergency watch’ for a category five hurricane that was a mere 48 hours away. Brilliant – and we were only on day two. Fox News gave regular updates on the progress of Hurricane Matthew and state senators were warning people to evacuate the most vulnerable areas. Unsettling stuff, not helped by the eerie satellite image of Matthew dominating news channels…
Now one thing I learned very quickly: Floridians take hurricane warnings very seriously, applying strict curfews (yes, really) across the state to prevent people venturing out. They also batten down the hatches at the earliest opportunity and close theme parks, cinemas and restaurants. Only what you’d expect I suppose.
As the winds began and Matthew edged closer, it was the families in the trailer parks that I felt most concerned for – at least those who chose to remain and ‘ride out the storm’.
A caravan in 270km/h winds? Now that is scary!
Every Walmart, Winn-Dixie and Target within the area saw people stocking up on the essentials; unaware of how bad the damage could be and for how long it would last. It reminded me somewhat of the panic-buying in the UK when we get a little bit of snow! Correction – the Floridians were far calmer. Seasoned pros perhaps?
If you’re staying at Disney (or any complex), I’m sure you’d be well looked after but nonetheless, confined to your hotel room. At least staying in a villa meant that we had plenty of space! But there was work to do; we were telephoned by the (Brit) villa owner and told to remove the cushions from the sun loungers and hurl the frames into the swimming pool. This way, they would sink to the bottom and not turn into projectiles in the winds!
I did mention there have been two. When we arrived into Orlando in October 2018 and learned of another Cat 5 Hurricane – Michael – making its way across Cuba and towards Florida, I felt better prepared for what might be to come this time around and needless to say, we went round two.
This time, Michael did make landfall in Florida, albeit nowhere near where we were. Unfortunately the death and devastation it left behind was catastrophic. These things don’t mess about.
We all know there’s a problem here; our oceans are hotting up and this is the perfect foundation for the formation hurricanes. This means that we are probably likely to see more than we ever have before and they will be bigger and more monstrous – but, that’s a much bigger issue and a topic for another day.
But hey, don’t let this put you off going to the wonderful Florida! To miss it would be to miss out!
Not put off? Then why not read my top tips for what to do – that doesn’t include Mickey Mouse (or hurricanes).