When is Hurricane Season In Cancun? Peak Timing and Earliest Hurricane on Record

Written by Jennifer Geer
Updated: June 6, 2023
© Vikks/Shutterstock.com
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Hurricanes are a destructive force of nature. Hurricanes, also known as tropical cyclones, can produce high winds, storm surge flooding, and heavy rainfall. 

When a hurricane reaches land, it can spawn tornadoes, create rip tides, and cause inland flooding. Anyone living or visiting a hurricane-prone area should be aware of hurricane season, the time of year when hurricanes are most likely to form from the warmer ocean waters.

When Is Hurricane Season in Cancun?

Hurricane wind
When a hurricane reaches land, it can spawn tornadoes, create rip tides, and cause inland flooding.


Hurricane season in Cancun occurs during June and November and tends to peak in September and October. 

Cancun sits on the southeast coast of Mexico. Tourists visit Cancun to relax on the soft sandy beaches, swim in the pristine waters, tour Mayan ruins, and partake in shopping, nightlife, and dining. The peak tourism season runs from December to April, when the weather is warm, but not too humid, and rainfall is at its lowest.

However, tourists also visit in the summer and fall during the Atlantic Ocean’s peak hurricane season. Luckily for tourists, historically it’s been rare for a major hurricane to hit Cancun.

What Was the Earliest Hurricane on Record to Hit Cancun?

There have been two major hurricanes to strike Cancun, Hurricane Gilbert, and Hurricane Wilma. Both storms occurred in the fall. Hurricane Gilbert hit landfall on September 5, 1988, making it the earliest hurricane on record to hit Cancun.

Hurricane Gilbert was the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin until it was surpassed by Hurricane Wilma in 2005, the other major hurricane to directly impact Cancun.

Where Do Hurricanes Normally Hit in Cancun?

Map view of Cancun, Mexico. (vignette)
Hurricane Gilbert and Hurricane Wilma were devastating to the Yucatan Peninsula.

©Tudoran Andrei/Shutterstock.com

Cancun, located on the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, sits on the Caribbean Sea. According to a Harvard University study, when hurricanes or tropical storms come through the area, they tend to approach the Yucatan Peninsula from the east-southeast while landing on the northeastern part of the peninsula, exactly where Cancun is located.

How Often Do Hurricanes Hit Cancun?

There are many tropical storms, near misses, and hurricanes that have brushed past Cancun, but the area has been fortunate to have been directly impacted by hurricanes only twice.

Hurricane Gilbert in 1988

In September 1988, Hurricane Gilbert was, at the time, the most powerful and devastating hurricane to hit Mexico. The storm made direct landfall in Jamaica, tearing a path through the entire area where it emerged back into the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. From there, the storm intensified. When it made landfall on Cancun in the Yucatan Peninsula, it intensified into a Category 5 storm. 

For nine days, Gilbert ravaged the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Over 5,000 American tourists were evacuated from Cancun. The hurricane killed 318 people and caused $7.1 billion in damages. 

Beyond the immediate destruction, Gilbert may have carried a disease that wiped out the Yucatan Peninsula’s coconut palm population. Gilbert was the most powerful storm to hit the Atlantic Basin, that is until Hurricane Wilma struck in 2005.

Hurricane Wilma in 2005

Hurricane Wilma occurred during a volatile year for hurricanes. In 2005, there were 28 storms, which remains a record for the Atlantic Basin to this day. On October 21, Wilma hit the island of Cozumel (south of Cancun) as a Category 4 hurricane, causing eight deaths in Mexico. Wilma then moved on to the Yucatan Peninsula, cutting an erratic path of devastation before heading into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where it eventually struck land in Florida. 

During its time across the Peninsula, Wilma damaged homes, leveled hotels, and eroded beaches. Houses that hadn’t been damaged by the storm were later hit by storm surge flooding.

What Part of Cancun Is the Safest From Hurricanes?

The Cancun government follows a color-coded warning system to help keep citizens and tourists safe during threatening storms. 

During minor threats, hotels may restrict guest activities or order guests to remain indoors. After the devastation of Hurricane Wilma, Cancun hotels have taken preventative measures to improve safety. These days, hotels in all Caribbean resorts are built to withstand a category 3 hurricane

Cancun hotels are also well prepared to evacuate guests to safety zones when the weather becomes dangerous. When storms grow intense, resort guests may be evacuated to one of the many hurricane-proof shelters in the area. Cancun has 24 hurricane-proof areas that can shelter up to 17,000 people.

Tourists visit Cancun to relax on the soft sandy beaches, swim in the pristine waters, tour Mayan ruins, and partake in shopping, nightlife, and dining.


Cancun is a beautiful place to visit with gorgeous beaches, clear blue waters, and lots to see and do. Even if you decide to travel to Cancun during the peak of hurricane season, the odds are fairly low of a direct hurricane striking the area. But if it does, remember, with today’s technology meteorologists are better able to accurately track storms and give plenty of warning. Also remember, even minor storms can cause dangerous flooding, so it’s good to always heed warnings from officials to keep safe.

The Featured Image

Hurricane from space. Satellite view. Super typhoon over the ocean. The eye of the hurricane. View from outer space. Some elements of this image furnished by NASA
Hurricanes frequently cause tornadoes and can bring over 6 feet of rain.
© Vikks/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Jennifer is a professional writer living in the Chicago area. She owns two pugs. Or rather, they own her. Jennifer has discovered that her best writing happens against a backdrop of soft pug snores.

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