Bad weather can quickly put a dampener on your holiday. But what should travellers do when bad weather turns deadly?
We all know the feeling; agonising over weather forecasts, hoping and praying that your well-earned holiday will be spent enjoying the sun (not hiding from the rain in your hotel room).
But with tropical beaches come tropical storms.
Nothing can ruin a holiday faster than bad weather, and in some cases, the weather can cause far more than a few inconveniences. From hurricanes to bushfires, and tornadoes to volcanic eruptions, Mother Nature has countless deadly tricks up her sleeve.
So how can travellers stay safe when extreme weather events occur, and how can they avoid them in the first place?
How to plan for the weather when planning your holiday
Being weather-wise can mean the difference between the trip of a lifetime and a trip you’d rather forget. It’s often said that you can’t plan the weather, but when it comes to organising your overseas adventure, this isn’t the case. There are a number of places you can find historical weather data to ensure you know exactly when is the best time to travel to your destination.
The Emergency Events Database posts information on natural disasters as they happen, all around the world. As one look at their ‘Disasters of the Week’ section will tell you, severe weather events occur with surprising frequency all over the globe. Not all of these will make the evening news, but all of them will be enough to throw your travel plans into disarray.
Their website allows you to search the Emergency Events Database by location, which is a great starting point when planning your holiday. For example, did you know that New Caledonia has suffered a series of tropical cyclones which occur most commonly in March? Or that Thailand is particularly susceptible to flash flooding from September to January?
What weather events can affect my holiday?
Some severe weather events, like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, can occur at unpredictable intervals. However, other dangerous weather conditions often follow the same annual pattern in predictable locations. Bushfires, flooding, tornadoes and cyclones occur at different times throughout the year, so avoiding them is only a matter of research and careful planning.
Cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons
Tropical cyclones occur in both the northern and southern hemispheres at different times of the year. In the northern hemisphere, cyclone season is between June and November, with September being the most dangerous month. In the southern hemisphere, November to April is peak cyclone season.
When planning your South-East Asian escape, you might be attracted to the discounted prices advertised in the “off season”. But don’t be fooled, these are discounted for a reason.
The monsoon season in Asia differs from country to country, but generally occurs from June to November. When the season reaches full swing, it’s not unusual to have days and days of persistent torrential tropical rain, which can put a dampener on the holiday mood and make getting around a nightmare.
Flash flooding is a real risk during monsoon season, alongside mudslides and disease outbreaks. To enjoy all South-East Asia has to offer, without the torrential rain, we recommend spending the extra money to visit during the dry season.
If you’re travelling to the United States, extreme weather should be kept on your radar. The USA sees extreme weather events like heatwaves, bushfires, snow storms, hurricanes and floods in various parts of the country throughout the year.
But if you’re visiting Midwestern states like Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa and South Dakota, then you’ve found yourself in the notorious ‘Tornado Alley’. Tornado season is March to June, however they are sometimes difficult to predict.
The USA Tornadoes website is a great resource to track the likelihood of tornadoes in the country during your visit. And remember, while they may be exciting and impressive to witness, tornadoes are deadly. Keep your distance and follow all advice from local authorities.
Mobile apps to track the weather overseas
Your holiday planning shouldn’t stop once you’ve left home. It’s important you monitor the weather for the duration of your holiday, so you can stay dry and danger-free.
Some must-have weather apps include:
- WeatherPro: WeatherPro is ‘Europe’s leading paid-for weather app’ for a reason. It includes more European locations than any other application, so you can ensure you stay a step ahead of potentially disruptive events.
- Weather Underground: Have you ever had the weatherman tell you it’s sunny only to be drenched by torrential rain? Weather Underground offers live weather updates with crowdsourced observations from other users.
- RadarScope: According to NBC News’ chief meteorologist, “every storm chaser and TV meteorologist I know has the RadarScope app.” The app is particularly useful for travellers who want to track severe weather events as they emerge.
Staying safe in severe weather
Sometimes, all the planning in the world just isn’t enough to predict a severe weather event. Sometimes, the best you can do is bunker down and stay safe until the storm subsides.
There are a few rules of thumb to remember when staying safe during an extreme weather event overseas:
- Always obey the instructions of local authorities
- Resist the urge to get close to the action; put as much distance between you and the elements as possible
- Be proactive in asking about emergency protocol of your hotel, including noting emergency exits
- Follow your airline’s social media channels for flight updates
- Stay off the roads wherever possible
Packing for the weather
There’s an old traveller’s saying that goes “pack for the worst and you’ll feel the best.” If your holiday does get struck with inclement weather, you want to be sure you’re well prepared to stay safe.
As well as weather-appropriate clothing, every packing list should include a small first-aid kit. Torches, string and a spare toilet roll can also be a lifesaver when things go off script.
What to do if the weather affects your flights
Bad weather can play havoc with your travel schedule. Not only can grounded flights mean frustrating delays, but even getting to the airport can become a challenge when Mother Nature intervenes. So what do you do if you can’t make your flight, or if your flights are delayed or cancelled?
First of all, you should call the airline to discuss what options are available. If you can’t make a flight due to bad weather, they may be able to negotiate a later flight for a fee, advise whether you should find accommodation until the following day, or even let you know that the plane has been grounded.
Once you have heard from the airline, give us a call to discuss what is covered under your policy. Our TravelCare policy customers have access to contact our Emergency Assistance Team, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so you can get advice on your cover at all times.
When am I covered for delays caused by the weather?
From monsoons to earthquakes, flash flooding and bushfires, there are a number of weather events that can disrupt your holiday plans. We know how frustrating these delays can be, which is why our TravelCare policy includes comprehensive Delay Cover to cover you for the extra costs incurred while waiting to return home.*
However, it’s important to remember that your policy only covers you for delays caused by unexpected weather events. If there has been a volcanic eruption in Indonesia that grounded planes before you purchased your insurance, you may not be covered for delays if it flares up again during your journey.
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