Hurricane Season in Jamaica – What You Must Know Before You Go

Planning a Jamaica Vacation? What You Should Know About Hurricane Season in Jamaica (Updated 2024)

 

Every trip to Jamaica, or anywhere in the Caribbean, brings thoughts of blue skies, warm weather, lots of sunshine and beautiful beaches. No one wants their well-anticipated vacation ruined by a hurricane. So what’s the deal with hurricane season in Jamaica? Here’s what you need to know.

 

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Beach scene - hurricane season in Jamaica

When you see or think about the devastation that can occur with a hurricane, you might be tempted to write off the Caribbean during hurricane season. But not so fast.

How many of these false assumptions do you believe about hurricane season in Jamaica?

 

1. There is a high chance that you will experience a hurricane in Jamaica while you are there. – Wrong!

 

2. What happened in previous years predicts what happens in the current year – Wrong!

 

3. Nobody goes to Jamaica during hurricane season – Wrong!

 

4. Hurricanes come without warning – Wrong!

 

5. You get your money back if there is a threat of a hurricane and you have no trip insurance – Wrong!

 

All five statements are false. Read on to get the facts to help you decide if and how you can get in on one of the biggest secrets to snagging travel deals to Jamaica!

 

Is there hurricane season in Jamaica? Is Jamaica really vulnerable to hurricanes?

Does Jamaica get hurricanes? Yes, it does. The Atlantic basin includes the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. Jamaica, which is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, lies within the Atlantic hurricane belt.

 

When is hurricane season in Jamaica?

Hurricane season in Jamaica is officially June 1st through November 30th every year.

 

Do hurricanes occur outside of the known Jamaica hurricane season?

Records dating back to the 1700s show no hurricanes outside of the known hurricane season. The remaining 6 months of the year, December through May, have historically been hurricane-free.

 

How many storms can be expected during a typical Jamaica hurricane season?

Typically, the Atlantic region gets 12 named tropical storms with sustained winds of up to 39 mph, of which about half turn into hurricanes with winds exceeding 74mph, and a quarter becoming category 3 or higher hurricanes with sustained winds over 111mph. Not all of them will affect Jamaica. Most don’t.

2017 had an above-average season with 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes – none of which made landfall in Jamaica.  

For 2023, NOAA predicted a near-normal Atlantic Hurricane season with 14-21 named storms, 6-11 hurricanes, and 2-5 major hurricanes. Twenty became named storms. There were no hurricanes that made landfall in Jamaica. 

Let’s hope that the only hurricanes that come near us are the new hurricane glasses that we bought for the bar!

 

Do hurricanes hit Jamaica? 

Yes, hurricanes do hit Jamaica. Fortunately, direct hits are uncommon with most hurricanes or storms changing course along the way.

 

How often do hurricanes hit Jamaica?

Based on historical data, a hurricane hits Jamaica about once every 10-11 years, on average. A hurricane gets close (without a direct hit) about every 4 years or so.

What is more likely is for there to be tropical storm or hurricane activity in the region which can bring much wind and rain which can cause much damage – flooding and landslides, loss of power, and loss of water.

As you can see from the image below, there are three typical hurricane paths. Typically, hurricanes move north of Jamaica.

 

 

History of Hurricanes in Jamaica (1988-2022)

A direct hit to Jamaica is actually uncommon. So much so that we Jamaicans think of the seasons by fruits. We don’t really think about hurricane season. We worry about that when we hear on the radio that there is a hurricane or storm coming.

 

Here are the named hurricanes and storms that hit in the last 30 years.

1988 – September 12; Hurricane Gilbert

1994 – November 12; Tropical Storm Gordon

2001 – November 4; Hurricane Michelle

2004 – August 11; Hurricane Charley

2004 – September 10-12; Hurricane Ivan

2005 – July 6;  Hurricane Dennis

2005 – July 17; Hurricane Emily

2005 – October 17-18; Hurricane Wilma

2007 – August 19; Hurricane Dean

2008 – August 29; Tropical Storm Gustav

2010 – September 29; Hurricane Nicole

2012 – October 24; Hurricane Sandy

2021 – August 17; Tropical Storm Grace

Since 2000, only two major hurricanes hit the island – Ivan in 2004 and Dean in 2007. Both were category 4 hurricanes.

Tropical Storm Grace (not a hurricane) in August 2021 was the first direct hit since Hurricane Sandy. It landed in the northeastern section of Jamaica and brought with it much rain and flooding in certain areas.

There were no direct hits in 2022 or 2023.

 

Which were the most memorable hurricanes to hit Jamaica?

2018 marked the 30th year since Hurricane Gilbert, considered the most destructive hurricane in Jamaican history, landed on September 12, 1988. This was the first hurricane to hit Jamaica directly since Hurricane Charlie in 1951. Older people still refer to the island in terms of before and after Gilbert.

Hurricane Ivan didn’t make landfall in September 2004, but still did significant damage due to high winds and heavy rains.

Hurricane Dean in August 2007 wasn’t a direct hit either but caused a lot of damage and power outages in some areas primarily in the south and south-eastern regions of the island. We were lucky in our area. We had a few downed branches and were out of power for a couple of days, but otherwise, there was no damage.

Hurricane Sandy was a category 1 hurricane when it landed on the Southeastern portion of the island, not far from Kingston, and wreaked havoc on the southern and eastern areas in October 2012.

2013 – 2018 didn’t have any major storms that caused much damage in Jamaica. Hurricane Matthew in 2016 caused some flooding as it passed through the region. 

So far, hurricanes in Jamaica have not been associated with many lives lost but have done a lot of structural damage to homes, roads, and utilities. 

 

How does Jamaica compare to other islands in terms of risk for tropical storms and hurricanes of any strength?

You will be happy to know that Jamaica is nowhere near the top of the list in the Caribbean. That honor goes to Bahamas. Jamaica is in fact #36 on the list – way behind other popular tourist destinations such as Cuba, Cayman, Virgin Islands, and Mexico.

If you want to see more details, in particular, the number of prior level 3-5 hurricanes, click here. 

 

Does a hurricane in the region mean bad weather for Jamaica?

Not necessarily; however, depending on the strength of the hurricane and distance from the island, there could be heavy rains and flooding in certain areas of the island.

The Caribbean Sea is about 1 million square miles, which is a very large region. Hurricane activity in one area does not necessarily mean crappy weather in the rest of the Caribbean.

Hurricane Irma and Maria did massive damage to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in 2017 while Jamaica and many other islands had no impact.

When Hurricane Dorian decimated the island of Abacos in the Bahamas in September 2019, Exuma, another Bahamian island, didn’t even get rain. Jamaica, like many of the other islands in the region, had good weather despite the threat. Florida, Georgia, and the South-Eastern Coast of the US had more of a threat from Hurricane Dorian than Jamaica did.

 

Hedging your bets during hurricane season in Jamaica … In which months are hurricanes most likely to hit Jamaica?

August, September, and October are the most likely months for a hurricane in Jamaica. This is also true for Cuba, Dominican Republic, and the Cayman Islands,

Hurricanes in June and July are more likely to affect the Gulf of Mexico and not Jamaica.

 

There is a ditty (poem) to remind us of hurricane season in Jamaica – June too soon, July get ready, August prepare you must, September remember, October all over.

 

If you want to hedge your bets, June, July, and November are the safest bets, statistically speaking.

 

What is your risk of having a hurricane in Jamaica during your stay?

No one can say for sure and you know Mother Nature is unpredictable.

According to Weather2Travel, past history suggests that the risk of a hurricane on any one particular day is low.

January – July: 0%

August: 1.6%

September: 2.1%

October: 1.2%

November: <1%

December: 0%

According to their site, the percentages come from a thorough analysis of more than 60 years’ worth of data from January 1951 to December 2010.

Using this information, they established an average number of days affected by tropical storms.

These average percentages reflect the number of storm-affected days; that’s to say, days when the weather is in some way affected by a storm within 350 km, not necessarily days that are fully disrupted or at risk of a direct hit from a tropical storm, even during the hurricane season.

Please visit their website for even more information about tropical storm risk and weather in Jamaica.

Also, the percentage reflects the whole month. Unless you are staying for the whole month, your risk would be less!

Will a hurricane “come upon you” during your vacation?

The satellite weather forecasts in Jamaica and abroad are sophisticated enough nowadays to give ample warning to prepare.

Hurricanes are not like tornados or earthquakes, which come on without warning.

There are many sources that you may check the weather before you leave for vacation:

  1. The Weather Channel 
  2. Download the hurricane app from the American Red Cross
  3. Many airlines have apps that will alert you of travel warnings or delays.
  4. Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) which is a free program to allow US citizen and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. 
  5. Jamaica Weather Service

  1.  

Is it possible to predict if a hurricane will hit in the Jamaica hurricane season?

In a word, No.

There is no guarantee either way. Each season is different.

What happened in previous years does not predict what will happen the following year.

Different agencies and associations make predictions but that’s all they are predictions. Sometimes they get it right. Sometimes they get it wrong.

Hurricane paths can change. Even if hurricane activity is in the region, not all islands are or will be affected.

Think of Hurricane Irma and Maria in 2017 that devastated Puerto Rico and many other islands, killing dozens and causing billions of dollars in damages, and a prolonged recovery period; yet, Jamaica, thankfully, was unscathed.

 

 

 

6 Really Good Reasons to Go to Jamaica During Hurricane Season?

Despite the risk of a hurricane during this time of year, there are some really good reasons to seriously consider going to Jamaica during hurricane season.

1. Awesome deals, that’s why!

No, you’re not crazy to go to Jamaica in hurricane season.

People who go to Jamaica between June and November, know that there are discounts to be had.

It’s the low season so airfare is usually less, except in August. Hotels are cheaper too! 

2. Fewer crowds. The airports, the beaches, and the attractions are less crowded.

While July is traditionally the busiest month for arrivals at Montego Bay Airport, September, October, and November see the fewest number of arrivals every year. Hint, those are great months to snag deals!

3.  Statistically, the risk of a direct hit by a hurricane is low.

4.  Scuba divers claim this period has some of the best visibility during the year especially when equipped with high-quality diving gears!

5.  Great weather, despite the risk

 

Sunshine

 The sunniest months are January through April, as well as July and August – both of which are in hurricane season.

 

Temperature

The warmest months in Jamaica are July and August with average maximum daytime temperatures of about 89-90°F.

September to November are cooler than July and August but warmer than December to February.

Average maximum daytime temperature in Discovery Bay – Braco area in Jamaica in July is about 86°F/30°C. Average minimum temperature is around 72°F/22°C.

 

Rain

How much rain can you expect during hurricane season in Jamaica? It varies.

Traditionally, the rainy periods are May/June and again September and October. June and July are generally the driest months. This pattern does vary from year to year with much more variability noted in recent years.

The amount of rainfall and the frequency of showers or days of rain can vary quite a bit in Jamaica, even in nearby towns.

For example, there could be significant rainfall in the town of Discovery Bay with hardly a raindrop in our area, five minutes’ drive away.

In general, the more northeastern sections of Jamaica get the most rain. These areas would represent areas east of Ocho Rios and on into Portland, where rainfall averages can be significant.

Rain in Jamaica often occurs at night or early morning. Sometimes, rain comes on during the daytime in short quick spurts only to disappear just as quickly as it came. In the rainy period, there can be several consecutive days of rain.

If there are heavy rains, on-river activities, such as river rafting, might be canceled due to high water levels or rapid rivers. Water clarity could also be affected depending on how much rain occurred in the mountains.

 

6.  Warmest sea temperatures are in June through November. Unfortunately, that blessing helps set the stage for why we get hurricanes!

 

Read our blog post: 8 Reasons Why you Should visit Jamaica during the Low Season

 

 

 

4 Things You Must Get Right When You Plan a Trip to Jamaica During Hurricane Season

Plan on having FUN!

Remember that the risk of a hurricane interrupting your trip is statistically low.

With that in mind …

 

1.  Be sure you understand the cancellation policies of the different aspects of your vacation.

What is your hotel or vacation rental’s cancellation policy?

What about your airline’s cancellation policy? 

Realize that for most hotels, and vacation rentals in particular, the cancellation policy will not kick in unless there is a named storm or hurricane by an official agency such as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

This is because storm paths can change dramatically over a period of hours to days.

Jamaica is a large island so the weather there will depend on which section of the island is closest to the path of the storm.

It is possible for one area of the country to be pummeled with heavy rains while the opposite end of the island is graced with a few showers.

Some airlines might waive the change fee and allow you to rebook within a certain timeframe.

Check with your airline for their specific policy.

If your plans are not flexible, consider buying refundable tickets for the least hassle with the airlines.

 

2.  Get trip insurance and be sure to review what is covered.

Trip insurance is an excellent way to protect your investment.

Even if your airline allows you to rebook, you might not necessarily be able to complete the trip for a multitude of other reasons.

Then what?

This is where trip insurance is helpful. We always advise our guests to get trip insurance.

Find out how comprehensive the coverage is.

Does it allow you to cancel for any reason?

Make sure hurricane coverage is specifically included if you are traveling during hurricane season.

Get coverage for not only trip cancellation but also delay and interruption insurance.

The weather in Jamaica might be fine, but your trip could be delayed if there is a hurricane that is threatening your airline’s flight path to Jamaica.

Hurricane Dorian did not affect Jamaica at all; however, it did affect Florida resulting in the closure of several airports including Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

Your trip could have been delayed if you were flying to Jamaica through any of those airports. 

Make sure you buy the trip insurance well before there is any inkling of bad weather; otherwise, it will be too late. The storm will be considered a “foreseeable event” and you will not be able to buy coverage.

 

3. Pick a property with tons of indoor amenities so that you will have lots of things to do if it rains.

Mais Oui Villa is amenity heaven.

There are 42 indoor games and counting. Plus, there are other indoor games such as dart, foosball, ping pong, and billiards that do not require Wi-Fi, or even electricity. 

 

4. If you are staying at a villa or other small property during hurricane season in Jamaica, make sure they have a hurricane plan.

A licensed villa in Jamaica is required to have an emergency plan.

At Mais Oui Villa we have a generator to power essential services, flashlights, emergency lighting, first aid kits, blankets.

We have water storage units with over 4000 gallons of water on site. We have a gas stove but we also have a grill and a coal stove.

 

 

 

So what happens if a storm hits while you are in Jamaica?

Follow local advice. A lot of work has been done over the years to improve safety associated with hurricanes.

If evacuation is recommended, leave. You do not want to be stuck on the island or in an area no longer deemed safe.

If evacuation is not advised the chances are great that only heavy rains and minimal damage are expected.

We were actually at the villa for a family event in August 2007 for Hurricane Dean, which was not a direct hit.

At first, we were up on the roof watching the sea when we realized it wasn’t such a good idea as there could be flying objects that could cause injury so we went inside. Do not do that! Stay inside. Your first priority will be to stay safe.

The power went out. We had candlelight dinners.

To conserve the generator fuel, we used lamps and lanterns that we had around.

We played board games, including many of the old classics that we hadn’t played in years.

In an unexpected sort of way, we had an amazing time just hanging out together and enjoying each other.

It was a little bittersweet when the power came back because there was a closeness that we all experienced that could not be replicated … I guess if that happened today, we would be bummed about not having internet.

 

So what do you think about snagging a deal during hurricane season in Jamaica?

I’m a “Have ticket, will travel” kind of girl so I go to Jamaica any time of year.

Whether or not you choose to visit during hurricane season in Jamaica is a personal decision.

Weigh the pros and cons and decide for yourself.

Hurricane season in Jamaica does have the risk of weather that could interrupt your trip; but statistically, the risk, while not zero, is very low.

The reality is that you are very unlikely to experience a hurricane while you are in Jamaica.

You’re probably more likely to have an accident on the way to or from the airport than being stuck in Jamaica during a hurricane.

So, especially if you live in a city with direct flights to Jamaica, it might be worth your while to snag some of the great deals that are available in the off-season.

 

So if you are thinking of visiting Jamaica and want an experience that marries privacy, luxury, high-touch personalized service, unparalleled amenities, and sustainability, look no further than our 8-bedroom staffed villa, Mais Oui, the perfect choice for family vacations and celebrations.

 

 

 

If you love our house and want to stay with us, here is the link to our own website to book directly with us: https://MakeItJamaica.com

If for whatever reason you wish to book through an online agency, here are the links to our listings. They will charge you a fee, but if you don’t mind, and it makes you feel better, even safer, then, by all means, go ahead and book through them. We prefer for you to book through them than to not book at all.

VRBO

AirBnB    

TripAdvisor   

We look forward to hosting your group soon!



Til next time.

Think and dream Jamaica!

Sherry, Darrell, and Darrian

Considering a visit to Jamaica with a group? Contact us today for more information about, Mais Oui Tennis & Spa Villa, our boutique 8-BR ocean view Jamaica villa rental experience in beautiful Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Perfect for multi-generational families and groups, retreats, and intimate destination weddings and vow renewals.

Visit our website: https://MakeItJamaica.com

Give us a call: 833.624.7684 (toll free) or 914.709.0457

Like us on Facebook: https://facebook.com/MakeItJamaica

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About the Author Sherry

Sherry & Darrell, owners of Mais Oui Tennis & Spa Villa in Discovery Bay, Jamaica, consider themselves unofficial ambassadors for Jamaica. They look forward to using their insider knowledge to help guests create priceless vacation memories. Feel free to say hi!

One Response

  1. Hi Anna. Your question just popped up on my feed. Thanks for considering Jamaica. How might I help you? Have you been to Jamaica before? Is this a special trip for you? What are you looking for for this trip? Contact us at https;//MakeItJamaica.com to discuss further.
    Sherry

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About the Author Sherry

Sherry & Darrell, owners of Mais Oui Tennis & Spa Villa in Discovery Bay, Jamaica, consider themselves unofficial ambassadors for Jamaica. They look forward to using their insider knowledge to help guests create priceless vacation memories. Feel free to say hi!