What Orlando Travelers Need to Know About Hurricane Dorian

What you should know about hurricanes, storm preparation in Orlando and resources for being prepared

UPDATED September 3, 2019, 7:30 a.m.: Hurricane Dorian is now projected to impact Orlando on Tuesday, September 3, and Wednesday, September 4. The storm is expected to stay offshore; thus, Orlando is only expected to experience tropical storm conditions. Please contact your hotels and attractions directly for specific information about closures.

WhereTraveler has been a trusted travel resource and the traveler's best friend for 80 years and counting. We take that role seriously, and we work hard to provide our readers with relevent information, especially as it may impact travel arrangements in our destinations. We are closely monitoring Hurricane Dorian as it heads toward the state of Florida, and while we can't provide all of the answers, we want to share with you some terrific resources to help with your own preparation plans.

Aerial view of hurricane

When is hurricane season?

The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 through November 30. August and early September tend to be the busiest part of the season, although storms can happen anytime during this six-month period. Hurricanes can affect a wide range of areas, including Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean islands, the Eastern seaboard of the United States, as well as Southeastern states on the Gulf of Mexico.

What do the different categories of hurricanes mean?

Categories are determined by maximum sustained winds. A Category 1 hurricane has sustained winds of 74-95 mph; a Category 2 has 96-110 mph winds; a Category 3 has 111-130 mph winds; a Category 4 has 131-155 mph winds and a Category 5 has 156+ mph winds. At press time, Hurricane Dorian is forecasted to become a Category 4 hurricane.

Can hurricanes be predicted?

Unlike other extreme events such as tornadoes or earthquakes, which can happen suddenly, hurricanes can be monitored days and even weeks in advance. Your best bet for knowing how the area you're visiting may be impacted is to stay tuned to websites such as National Hurricane CenterWeather.com, and local news forecasts.

Icon Wheel

How far is Orlando from the coast?

Orlando is about 55 miles inland from Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic Ocean and 100 miles inland from Clearwater Beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Orlando is about 300 miles north of the Florida keys.

Should I cancel my plans to travel to Orlando?

Right now, the cone of uncertainty for Hurricane Dorian is vast, so it is still difficult to pinpoint exactly where the storm will make landfall. However, all of the state of Florida is now within the area being watched. Meteorologists are still monitoring Hurricane Dorian and the projected day and location of landfall is still unknown. Currently, estimated landfall is expected some time on Monday, September 2, or Tuesday, September 3.

I’m already here on vacation. What should I do?

Orlando area attractions and theme parks are open this week, so you can continue to enjoy your visit as you monitor the news for updates. Hurricane Dorian is projected to approach from the east. Stay tuned to the media for updates, and sign up for weather alerts and push notifications to your phone. Stay in touch with your hotel staff for their hurricane preparedness plan and their refund policy, should you need to leave early. If flying, contact your airline about possible travel changes. If driving, monitor evacuation routes should Orlando roads experience high traffic volume from other Florida locations. 

Read more:

Preparing for a Storm

Cinderella Castle

Will the theme parks close during a hurricane?

It's possible. Orlando’s theme parks put the safety of their guests first. In the past 48 years, Walt Disney World has closed its doors five times due to hurricanes. If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area—or for your hometown—within seven days of your scheduled arrival date, you may call both Disney and Universal to cancel or reschedule your plans without a penalty. Other attractions may have a similar policy, so call based on your individual travel plans.

Read More:

Disney's Hurricane Policy Page

Universal Orlando Severe Weather Policy

Is Orlando equipped to handle a storm?

Orlando is the Number One tourist destination in the world, with many public and private entities working closely together when emergencies arise to ensure the safety of its millions of residents and guests. In addition, Orlando has served as a safe city in the past for evacuees from other Florida cities. Many hotels and resorts historically have offered discounted distress rates to those seeking shelter.

Read more:

Orange County Government Information

Orlando International Airport Information

Sanford Orlando International Airport Information

Brooke Fehr
About the author

As group editor for WhereTraveler publications in Orlando, Daytona Beach, Tampa and So...