Hurricanes are a fact of life for living in Florida. But while the locals have their checklists and supply lists ready to go, and are debating whether this hurricane will follow the EURO model more than the GFS model forecasts, this can be an exciting and nerve-racking time if you are a tourist with a vacation on tap for the Orlando area.
At this point, there’s still plenty of uncertainty about exactly when and where Hurricane Dorian will hit, but there are a few key takeaways based on what we know so far and what has happened with storms of this size in the past.
- Dorian will be a major hurricane as it rolls toward Florida. This means that there’s an increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge along the east coast of Florida and devastating hurricane-force winds even as far inland as Orlando and beyond.
- There will be areas with mandatory evacuations. For some, that will mean evacuating inland–to the Orlando area. Hotel rooms may be scarce. Also, Fort Wilderness campgrounds at a minimum will likely need to evacuate if the storm heads inland. During Irma, Saratoga Springs Treehouses also were required to evacuate.
- If you choose to evacuate early and are driving by car, download an an app like GasBuddy, because you can use that in real-time to help locate gas stations that have fuel. The closer you get to the landfall of a hurricane, the more likely you are to be unable to find gas stations with fuel.
- There will come a time during this storm when you won’t be able to evacuate outside of this area as roads and airports shut down. If you’re here at that point, you’re going to have to ride it out.
One question we get is “Should I come to Florida?” If it were my family, I wouldn’t. You can have many vacations. You only have one life. I’d prefer to play it safe. Also, you may have to be prepared to stick it out for time beyond your scheduled vacation, which can add additional cost and life stress. Now’s the time to check cancellation and travel insurance policies to know what your recourse would be. If you have a rental car, make sure you find out who is responsible for paying if a tree falls on it during the storm. Get questions answered now, because it will be very challenging (and potentially expensive) to find out the answers later. For more on this topic, we have an article available here.
If you do plan to ride out the hurricane at Walt Disney World, now is the time to gather your supplies. If, for some unknown reason, you want to come down here, pack an extra suitcase with supplies because they will likely be gone by the time you get here. Currently, many local stores are sold out of items like bread, batteries, flashlights, propane, and water. New shipments are arriving daily. Your best bet is to find out what time a local big box store opens and plan to be there at least a half an hour before they open.
Here’s our list from our Hurricane Irma coverage of what you should have on hand:
- Flashlights. In the past, Disney has provided some for guests, but there is no guarantee.
- Cash. ATMs and credit card transactions may not be possible immediately following the storm.
- Water and non-perishable foods. During Hurricane Matthew, Disney offered box lunches for sale. The price was around $13 each, the food was pretty substandard , and lines to get the food stretched for hours at some resorts. If you are able to have your own food on hand, you’ll be doing better than most. Currently, most stores in the area are sold out of water and are low on perishable foods. Use social media to help locate food and water.
- Ziploc bags. Should your hotel room experience damage that causes leaks, put your electronics (including electronic car keys) in a Ziploc bag to avoid damage. Also put travel documents, insurance cards, and other important item in a Ziploc bag to avoid damage.
- Closed-toe shoes. Even when the all-clear is given, a lot of debris will be down, and there’s potential for “displaced animals” (snakes, fire ants, etc.) to be in debris that you may be walking through.
- Bug spray. After a hurricane, the mosquito population booms.
- Baby wipes and cooling towels. It is possible that you will be in a stuffy hotel room with no a/c and no ability to shower for a few days. Baby wipes and cooling towels make it more bearable.
- Non-electronic entertainment. The time during a hurricane when it is not safe to go outside can go for more than 24 hours. During that time, you may lose power. Also note that some Disney hotels use satellite TV, and so you likely will not have TV even if the power stays on during the storm.
- First aid kit and medical supplies.
We will be updating the blog on a daily basis as closings and cancellations come in, and how things are looking in the Central Florida area. There’s never a time to panic, but now is the time to prepare.