View of a Hurricane Evacuation Route sign in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Season in Puerto Rico (What to Know, By a Local)

If you’re worried about traveling during the hurricane season to Puerto Rico, you’re not alone.

Every year tourism drops from late July to November because visitors are afraid of traveling. But worry not! 

I’m a Puerto Rico local who has lived through many storms and hurricanes myself, and I’m here to tell you all about the hurricane season in Puerto Rico, why the island is still a great destination during it, and useful tips for making the most of your visit.

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

When is Hurricane Season in Puerto Rico? 

The official hurricane season in Puerto Rico goes from June 1st to November 30 every year, with September as the peak of the season and the month with more cyclone activity. Although the season occurs every year, not every year Puerto Rico suffers the direct impact of a cyclone. 

Puerto Rico Weather vs Hurricane Season

Electrical lines in Puerto Rico after a hurricane

Puerto Rico’s Weather Quick Facts

⛱️  Puerto Rico’s Climate: Warm, tropical humid, with variations around the island.

🌡️  Average Temperatures –  Great weather all year round, with an average temperature of 80°F, colder in the winter months and hotter in the summer.

🌧️ Wet Season – April to November

☀️ Dry Season – December to March

🌩️ Hurricane Season – June to November

Be sure to read my guide to when to visit Puerto for more information on weather, crowds, and the best months for visiting.

The Rainy Season

The rainy season in Puerto Rico goes from April to November with the rainiest months being April, August, and November generally. June and July are months with less rain and more heat. 

Many visitors associate the wet season in Puerto Rico with hurricanes, but other disturbances might cause heavy rainfall all year round:

🌤️ Local Effects – The mix of humidity and warm temperatures from a day creates light showers in the afternoon.

🗺️ Location – Because of Puerto Rico’s topography, it rains more in certain areas like El Yunque. 

🌧️ Trough – Inverted low-pressure area that causes rains and showers.

🌧️ Fronts – Changes between air masses that can cause rain, thunderstorms, and winds.

🌧️Tropical Wave – Also called an easterly wave, a disorganized group of clouds that forms due to low pressure.

📚 Bookmark for Later: My guide to What to do in Puerto Rico.

What’s a Hurricane?

View of the eye of the hurricane Maria in 2017
Hurricane Maria, 2017

Every year low-pressure disturbances form in East Africa and move through the tropics until reaching the Atlantic Ocean, where they find the right atmospheric conditions to grow into a stronger storm with powerful winds. 

When winds get organized and start rotating over 74 mph, that storm is officially a hurricane. Puerto Rico just happens to be in a susceptible position.

🌩️ Last Puerto Rico Hurricane – Hurricane Maria, 2017

🌩️ Strongest Major Puerto Rico Hurricane – Hurricane San Felipe II, 1928

🌩️ Most Expensive Damage – Hurricane George, 1998

Puerto Rico Hurricanes – Month by Month 

View of big waves in Puerto Rico

If you’re wondering how hurricane season is during a particular month, it’s helpful to look back on historical data about which hurricanes have hit Puerto Rico in which months: 

June

June is the start of the hurricane season in the Atlantic. The first tropical storm usually forms by mid-June to late June in the Gulf of Mexico. The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season had an early start in May, and June produced 3 named tropical storms.

July

By July, named cyclones continue to form both in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. 

🌩️Tropical Storm San Cirilo, 1901 – this was the first storm to hit Puerto Rico in the XX century.

🌩️ Tropical Storm San Liborio, 1926 – caused heavy floods that resulted in 25 deaths.

August

The number of active systems grows significantly in the Atlantic Ocean, especially during the second half of the month. During August, Puerto Rico experienced both tropical storms and hurricanes.

🌩️ Tropical Storm/Hurricane Irene, 2011 – started as a tropical storm, Irene intensified to category 1 while crossing Puerto Rico.

🌩️ Hurricane Earl, 2010 – category 2, the indirect impact left $2.5 million in damages.

🌩️Hurricane Debby, 2000 – category 1, the indirect impact left heavy rainfalls.

🌩️ Hurricane David, 1979 – category 4, didn’t make landfall but caused 7 deaths and $70 million in losses.

🌩️ Hurricane Santa Clara (Betsy), 1965 – category 1, caused $40 million in loss and 16 deaths.

🌩️ Hurricane San Hipólito, 1916, – category 2, the heavy rainfalls and floods caused $1 million in damages.

September

September is the peak of the hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean as there isn’t enough shear to keep systems from organizing. This was always the most active month during the country’s hurricane history, with Hurricane Maria as the last major hurricane that made landfall.

🌩️ Hurricane Maria, 2017 – category 4, made landfall, left $90 billion in damage and 2,975 direct and indirect deaths. A study suggests the number goes up to 4, 645 lost lives.

🌩️ Hurricane Irma, 2017 – category 5, this major hurricane affected Vieques, Culebra, and the north of the main island through exterior rainbands.

🌩️ Hurricane George, 1998 – category 4, one of the most destructive in the island’s history, with a loss of $3 billion.

🌩️ Hurricane Hortense, 1996 – the eye crossed the west coast in just 1 hour and 15 minutes, and although it was category 1, the rainfall caused floods and loss of $150 million.

🌩️ Hurricane Marilyn, 1995 – category 2, the eye moved close to the northeast coast of Puerto Rico causing great damage to Vieques and Culebra. 

The map of hurricane in Puerto Rico
Map of Hurricanes through Puerto Rico (Source: US Geological Survey)

🌩️ Hurricane Hugo, 1989 – category 4, caused 8 deaths and $2 billion in loss. It made landfall in Vieques and later on the main island through Fajardo.

🌩️ Tropical Storm Frederick, 1979 – made an indirect impact with $5 million in damages by floods.

🌩️ Hurricane San Ciprian, 1932 – category 3, left 272 deaths and $35 million in damage.

🌩️ Hurricane San Nicolás, 1931 – category 1, crossed the north coast, but the damage was mostly around the San Juan area.

🌩️ Hurricane San Felipe II (Okeechobee Hurricane), 1928 – the only category 5 hurricane in Puerto Rico hurricane history, left behind a death toll of 312 people and $50 million in damages.

October

During the second half of October, the number of tropical storms and hurricanes starts to diminish. During this month, Puerto Rico received the impact of:

🌩️ Tropical Storm Jeanne, 2004- this October tropical storm reached winds of 70 mph and caused severe floods destroying homes and bridges. 

🌩️ Hurricane San Calixto II, 1943 – category 2, moved up north from the Caribbean Sea through the Mona passage and affected Puerto Rico indirectly with rainfall and strong winds.

November

November is the last month of the season. Historically, not a single cyclone made landfall and direct impact on the island. Hurricane Lenny was close and it’s also remembered for its particular way of moving towards the east.

🌩️ Hurricane Lenny, 1999 – category 4, affected Puerto Rico indirectly with rainfall that left $105 million in damages.

December & January

December and January are relatively safe from hurricanes as the season ends in November, but some off-season storms and hurricanes formed during these months.

🌩️ Tropical Storm Olga, 2004 – left moderate precipitation on the island.

🌩️ Tropical Storm Odette, 2003 – left moderate precipitation and floods.

🌩️ Hurricane Alice, 1954 – exterior rainbands brought rainfall to Puerto Rico.

👉 Read Next: My complete guide to the best season to travel to Puerto Rico

Is it Safe to Go to Puerto Rico During Hurricane Season?

View of the trees in a road in Puerto Rico after a hurricane

Visiting Puerto Rico during the hurricane season is generally safe as hurricanes don’t affect the island directly every year. Although there isn’t a way to avoid hurricanes or predict them with months of anticipation, travelers can know about a possible impact with 5-6 days of anticipation, enough time to make any changes to their trip or take any precautions. 

If you’re visiting Puerto Rico during the hurricane season, you should get travel insurance in case you need to make any last-minute changes to your trip. World Nomads travel insurance covers your pre-cancellation, your additional accommodation, and medical expenses in case of a hurricane.

📚 Related Reading: Is Puerto Rico Safe?

Tips for Visiting During Hurricane Season

Monitor the Local Weather

View of the sky before the hurricane comes

There isn’t a way to predict if there is going to be a hurricane with months of anticipation, but if your trip to Puerto Rico is less than two weeks away, you can monitor the National Hurricane Center website and the National Weather Service to know of any possible weather threat.    

Look for Free-Cancellation Hotels

If you’re traveling during the hurricane season, opt for booking your accommodation in a hotel with free cancellation. If you have to change plans at the last minute, you won’t lose your money or pay any penalty fees. With Booking.com, you can use the website’s filters to find great hotels with free cancellation in the best neighborhoods of Puerto Rico.

Travel During the Summer

Even if summer is the start of the wet season, it doesn’t mean you’ll face bad weather constantly. June and July are the driest months of the wet season. Summer is also the high season for locals that love to enjoy some beach time since the tides on the best beaches are calmer. 

👉 Want to know more? Read more in my local guide about the best season to travel.

Avoid September

September is the peak season of the hurricane season in the Atlantic. Traveling during the hurricane season is a great way to travel on a budget and get good prices in hotels and tours, but September will always be a month of high risk.

👉Local Tip: Plan your trip for the summer, late October or November, to enjoy the prices of the low season without the high risk. Use Booking.com to find free cancellation hotels with great prices per night.

Get Travel Insurance 

View of a damaged residential home after a hurricane

If you still want to book a trip to Puerto Rico during the peak of the hurricane season, make sure to get travel insurance that covers you in case there is a sudden change of plans. World Nomads insurance covers pre-travel cancellations, additional accommodation costs, and medical expenses in case of a tropical storm or hurricane.

Have Extra Cash Money

During storms and hurricanes, it’s quite common for blackouts to occur in Puerto Rico, which also means the ATM system fails to work. If you’re on the island during a hurricane, withdraw cash from your card and keep it with you for when you need it.

Know the Local Emergency Numbers

If you’re staying on the island while there is an atmospheric event, make sure to know the local emergency numbers like 911 for emergencies, the local police, and the firefighters’ number.

Keep Away from Rivers and Beaches

When storms are passing through Puerto Rico, make sure to avoid visiting rivers and beaches, as there can be floods, storm surges, and riptides. Most of the casualties during storms are due to floods.

👉 Read Next: My complete guide to the best season to travel to Puerto Rico.

FAQs About Hurricanes & Puerto Rico

How many times has Puerto Rico been hit by hurricanes?

Between 1867 and 2017, Puerto Rico received the direct impact of 29 hurricanes, including 9 major hurricanes above category 3.

When was the last hurricane in Puerto Rico?

The last hurricane to landfall in Puerto Rico was Hurricane Maria on September 20, 2017, causing  2,975 direct and indirect deaths and $90 million in damages.

What part of Puerto Rico is safest from hurricanes?

For the small size of Puerto Rico, hurricanes affect the entire island, regardless of the hurricane category. If a hurricane passes far to the north or the south, the outer rainbands might affect only one part of the island, and depending on the route, the west coast might be the safest.

What is the rainiest month in Puerto Rico?

The rainiest months in Puerto Rico include May, August, and November, but the rainfall varies greatly per city due to the topography in Puerto Rico. Some cities in the center as well as Rio Grande receive more rainfall per year than other cities.

What was the worst hurricane in Puerto Rico?

The worst hurricane in Puerto Rico was Hurricane Maria, with a death toll of 2,975 people, millions in damages, and a place between the most intense hurricanes in the Atlantic. San Felipe II and San Ciriaco are another two of the worst hurricanes in the island’s history.

***

Regardless of when you decide to visit, Puerto Rico offers a great vacation even during the hurricane season!  

👉 Before you go, don’t miss my guide to the best Puerto Rico attractions – including some seriously fun ones!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.