Cancun hurricane season lasts from June to November with the highest chance of a hurricane occurring being in September and October.
There have been two major hurricane events in Cancun’s tourism history. Hurricane Gilbert on Sept 15th 1988 and Hurricane Wilma on 21 October 2005. Hurricanes don’t hit Cancun every year, far from it.
In August 2007 Cancun had a lucky near miss. Hurricane Dean looked dead set to strike
Cancun with a ferocity similar ot that of Wilma. 48 hours beforehand Dean changed course and ended up making landfall some 200 miles south.
While major preparations had been made in Cancun, the worse that happened was 30 mph winds gusting to 50mph on the coast and some heavy rain showers that lasted just a few hours. The following day things were back to normal and there was little trace that Dean had grazed us.
In August 2008 Gustav came close but in the end this one also turned out to be a lot of fuss about nothing. Hurricanes really are not common, every year it seems the National Hurricane Center predicts a busy hurricane season and more often than not it hasn’t materialised.
If there is any tropical storm activity in the area, then you’ll see the storm centers highlighted below. Storms don’t always develop into hurricanes. In fact, more often than not they don’t. Even if a storm does develop into a hurricane there is little chance that Cancun will be directly affected.
Hurricane Wilma Strikes Cancun
On 21 and 22 October 2005 Hurricane Wilma made a direct strike on Cancun causing severe damage. Hurricane Wilma is the most powerful hurricane ever recorded and completely decimated the Cancun tourist industry for around 6 months.
The video shown below is the promotional video Coco Bongo used for several months upon reopening. It truly captures the ferocity of Wilma, and still brings me out in goose bumps every time I watch it.
Many hotels were damaged, some beyond repair. Shops, bars and restaurants suffered flooding and structural damage. Downtown infrastructure was decimated, with power lines down and residents without electricity or water for over a week in some cases.
The immediate clean up effort was truly something to behold. Instead of waiting for the authorities to pick up the pieces every man, woman and child was out there clearing fallen debris, unblocking drains, repairing what they could and providing support and comfort, not only to each other, but to the thousands of tourists trapped in Cancun.
This was a huge storm by anyone’s measure and the efforts of the people of Cancun were truly remarkable. The resilience and determination of the Mexican people together with unprecedented support from the Mexican Government ensured that Cancun came back better than ever.
A massive beach recovery program took place restoring the beaches to a condition better than before Wilma hit. Unfortunately this wasn’t too successful and most of the sand washed away again within a year. The exercise was then repeated in 2010 and this time the sand stayed!
Hoteliers and restaurateurs turned the downtime opportunity to their advantage and brought forward longer term plans to upgrade and improve facilities resulting in today’s Cancun being way improved on the Cancun of 2005.
Here’s a couple more Hurricane Wilma Cancun videos I found showing the immediate aftermath of the most powerful hurricane ever recorded.