What you need to know, and tips, if you'll be travelling to a hurricane-prone area

The official hurricane and tropical season typically starts June 1 and runs through to November 30th, and the 2007 season kicked off early with subtropical storm Andrea that formed off the coast of the Florida/Georgia coast in early May. So what can you expect for the rest of the season?

The 2007 hurricane season is predicted to be more active than normal. Analysis released by Phillip Klotzbach and William Gray at the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project suggests 17 named storms and nine hurricanes of which 5 will be intense (meaning a category 3 or higher.) will form this season. It has also been reported that there's a 74% chance that one major hurricane will hit the American coast.

Klotzbach and Gray's analysis is further supported by the predictions of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "For the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA scientists predict 13 to 17 named storms with seven to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which three to five could become major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher," said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

How's this season rank?

According to the NOAA, an average Atlantic hurricane season brings 11 named storms, with six becoming hurricanes, including two major hurricanes.

What's it all mean to you?

Since 2006 was a relatively quiet year for tropical storm activity, many tourists may think it's safer to travel to hurricane prone areas of the U.S, Mexico and the Caribbean, but 2007 may not shape up to be as quiet. Are you planning to travel to the southern United States, Mexico or the Caribbean this summer? Here are some key travel tips to consider when planning your vacation during this year's hurricane season:

  1. Be sure to keep track of weather trends in and around the area to where you'll be travelling. Storms of that size tend to be unpredictable. Not even the best meteorologists can predict if a storm will change its course. A good site to check for up-to-date and accurate information is Canada's Consular Affairs at travel.gc.ca. You can also check the National Hurricane Centre which is affiliated with the NOAA (www.nhc.noaa.gov) prior to, and during your trip, for additional information.

  2. Leave a detailed itinerary with family, friends and neighbours in case of an emergency. Information should include flight details, cruise ship details and port schedule, hotel name, location and room number. If you are travelling to more than one city, make sure to leave a detailed summary of all flights and hotels for each city you're visiting.

  3. Carry contact details for the Operations Centre of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada in case you need assistance during a tropical storm or hurricane while on vacation. The Operations Centre is open 24/7 and accepts collect calls. All contact numbers and instructions are available at www.voyage.gc.ca.

  4. Register with the Canadian embassy, high commission or consulate prior to or upon arrival when going on vacation. You can also do this online at www.voyage.gc.ca.

  5. Make sure page 4 of your passport is accurate and up to date. Make a few photocopies of this page, keep a copy with you that is separate from your passport and keep the rest with the travel documentation you hand over to family, friends and/or neighbours. Copies are necessary in case your passport is lost or stolen during your trip.

  6. Travel insurance is your best bet at beating this type of weather when planning your summer or fall getaway. We all remember what happened with hurricanes Katrina and Rita hitting the Gulf coast. The unfortunate reality is hurricanes like these can happen again. The travel insurance typically best suited for this type of precaution would be an all inclusive or comprehensive plan. An all inclusive or comprehensive plan covers trip cancellation and/or interruption prior to or during your trip on top of the basic essentials an emergency medical plan covers.
For six months of the year, travellers to the Atlantic side of the United States, Mexico or the Caribbean need to take into consideration that they may be travelling during hurricane season. This year looks like no exception, as predictions for an active storm season suggest. So make sure you don't forget to purchase travel insurance.

At kanetix.ca, you're able to shop around for the travel insurance rate that is right for you. If you're unsure how an all-inclusive or comprehensive plan works, Kanetix.ca can help. Don't settle for the travel insurance you're offered when you book your trip. With the first named storm having already hit parts of the Atlantic, it's time to start thinking seriously about how to stay clean, dry and safe during the summer vacation season. Learn more and get a quote today at www.kanetix.ca - where insurance companies compete and you save money.

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