American citizens who are planning to be in Cuba during hurricane season should consider the potential dangers and inconveniences associated with hurricanes and should devise an emergency plan before a storm’s arrival. Even inland areas far from coastlines can experience destructive winds and flooding. Hurricane damage is typically caused by storm surge, high winds, heavy rain, floods, mudslides, and tornadoes.
Regions affected by hurricanes and tropical storms may experience widespread damage to infrastructure and serious shortages of habitable accommodations, food, water, and medical facilities. Storms can result in airport closures or limited flight availability. Americans may be required shelter in emergency lodgings and to delay their return to the United States.
When is hurricane season?
Hurricane season runs from the beginning of June through the end of November. The past several years have seen an overall increase in the quantity and intensity of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated the city of Santiago de Cuba, the second-largest city in Cuba.
How can I prepare?
Americans should register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known and will make it easier for the Embassy to contact you in case of an emergency. While Consular Officers will do their utmost to assist U.S. citizens in a crisis, be aware that when abroad, local authorities bear primary responsibility for the welfare of people living or traveling in their jurisdictions. It is important to follow local authorities’ instructions concerning security and evacuation; failure to do so has cost lives.
During the hurricane season, Americans should monitor local radio and other sources of information, such as the National Hurricane Center, to stay aware of any weather developments. Minor tropical storms can develop into hurricanes quickly, limiting time available for a safe evacuation. Travelers should maintain close contact with tour operators, hotel staff, and local officials for evacuation instructions in the event of a weather emergency.
For further information about the dangers of hurricanes and for guides on preparing for emergency situations, please visit the following websites:
- National Hurricane Center
- CDC Hurricane Information
- American Red Cross Hurricane
- Joint Typhoon Warning Center
- U.S. Coast Guard Storm Center
If a natural disaster or civil disorder occurs in Cuba, the American Citizen Services Unit will use our warden system to notify U.S. citizens and provide appropriate instructions and advice. We will also send messages to all U.S. citizens registered with STEP.
If a natural disaster or disturbance occurs in Cuba, try to tell your relatives as quickly as possible that you are safe. If you are unable to contact your relatives directly, you may contact the Embassy’s American Citizen Services Unit at ACSHavana@state.gov or by calling +53 7 839 4100. The Embassy will attempt to communicate with family members in the United States. Above all, remain calm, follow events through news reports and try to follow instructions received from the Embassy. In the event of a disaster, we give priority to U.S. citizens who have been hurt or who are in danger. Please note that the Embassy may also experience communication difficulties or delays after a natural disaster or during civil disorder. Best practice is to find a safe location while seeking assistance.