Orlando, Florida is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States, home to Disney World Resort, Universal Studios Orlando, and SeaWorld. Orlando is also one of the biggest tourist destinations during the summer months, when many visitors have summer travel time and kids are out of school on summer breaks. Hurricane season during the past five years has impacted Florida in many ways. Some vacation planners may question whether travelling to Orlando during hurricane season is a good idea. As a past visitor in Orlando for the past five years during hurricane season, I can confirm that many of those questions are legitimate, but there are ways to plan a worry-free vacation to Orlando, even during the most historically active hurricane months.
Hurricane Season in Orlando
Hurricane season begins on June 1 and lasts until November 30 each year, right in the center of one of the most popular travel seasons for families planning a vacation to Orlando. During this time period, there are also peak times when hurricanes have typically been more likely to occur. The months of August through October are considered to have more potential than May or June, and early September through mid-month is considered the most potentially active time for hurricanes or tropical storms.
Orlando, Florida is located about 42 miles inland from the Atlantic coast and 77 miles away from the Gulf of Mexico. The inland location gives Orlando some protection from getting the worst of a hurricane’s wrath when it makes landfall, but hurricanes are also unpredictable, and Orlando has had its share of hurricane damages in the past.
One of the worst seasons for Florida hurricanes was in 2004, and Hurricane Charley blew through Orlando at speeds over 100 mph in spots, causing major damage. Hurricane Charley lasted from August 9 through 15, 2004, landing in Orlando on August 13, 2004. That same year, Hurricane Frances sent high winds and tropical storm weather through Orlando, causing some damage and downing trees. Hurricane Frances hit over Labor Day Weekend in 2004, on September 5, 2004. Walt Disney World had to close the parks for the second time in a month in 2004.
Hurricane Season and Orlando Weather
The risk for being caught in Orlando during a hurricane is always a possibility, but most visitors to Orlando will more likely experience the tropical weather that hurricane season brings to Orlando during a stay in the summer and early fall. Late afternoon thundershowers are common during hurricane season in Orlando, and repeat visitors often know to bring a rain poncho and plan for downtime in the event of a thunderstorm. Lightning storms can also occur at anytime, so safe planning is necessary. The hot, humid weather and the common afternoon thunderstorms may not be perfect for some travelers, but for others, the weather can be perfect for long days at the pool and downtime during the late afternoon showers.
Benefits of Visiting Orlando During Hurricane Season
Aside from the risk for encountering a hurricane, which is at best, slim for most travelers to Orlando, there are many reasons to consider a trip to Orlando during hurricane season. The summer break time is ideal for families who do not want to take their children out of school during the school year. This time of year is also perfect for outdoor watersports and swimming, and the evenings often cool down a bit, to the 70’s. Visitors from up north may enjoy some of Florida’s tropical weather after long winters.
The financial benefits of travel during hurricane season to Orlando may be one of the biggest reasons to consider a trip. Disney World has been regularly offering discounts and packages for this time of year, with considerable savings. The month of September is often quieter at the major Orlando theme parks, since most kids are back in school for the year. Flights to Orlando will also be less expensive than at peak break times during the year and holidays.
Should You Visit During Hurricane Season?
The answer to the question of whether you should travel to Orlando during hurricane season will vary among travelers. Those who are concerned about hurricanes should consider trip insurance, and plan ahead for any unexpected delays. Others may want to consider driving to Orlando. The bottom line is there are pros and cons of planning a trip to Orlando during hurricane season, but careful planning can often prevent unnecessary worry and help to create a trip to remember.