Californians think of hurricanes as something other people should worry about, people in the Caribbean, Florida, or the Gulf Coast. But occasionally the destructive storms swirl toward the West Coast instead of the Gulf and East Coast, affecting Mexico and the Southwest.
A new hurricane named Bud is following that path.
The storm is strong enough to cause Carnival Splendor, which sailed south from the Port of Long Beach on Saturday, to alter its itinerary.
Hurricane Bud is expected to arrive in Mexico's Baja Peninsula as a tropical storm later this week, but swells began affecting portions of the Mexican coast as early as Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Carnival Splendor skipped a stop at Cabo San Lucas on Tuesday and will replace a planned stop tomorrow at Puerto Vallarta with a day at sea. It will then make port stops at Catalina Island and Ensenada before returning to Long Beach.
The good news for passengers: They'll receive a $200 shipboard credit and a 50% credit for their next cruise.
"Only a fraction of our operations are impacted by tropical storm systems," a Carnival statement said. Canival sails from Long Beach to Mexico year-round. "But should a storm’s path interfere with the ship’s scheduled course, we alter the itinerary to avoid the storm and keep the ship at a safe distance.
"This obviously allows us to keep our guests and crew out of harm’s way, and it also provides for good weather so our guests can enjoy their cruise vacation," the statement said.
Altering course is common in stormy weather. Cruise companies say their flexibility is a plus for passengers, often comparing a cruise vacation to a resort vacation, where there isn't much flexibility: If the resort you're staying in ends up in the eye of the storm, you leave or ride it out.
The experts at Cruise Critic said Carnival's altered itinerary isn't surprising.
“This is a prime example of the type of cruise impacts that we see during hurricane season," the website’s managing editor, Chris Gray Faust, said.
"Itinerary changes, while they can be a letdown, are always made in the guests’ best interest. Contractually, cruise lines aren’t mandated to do much in the form of compensation, but for the most part we’ve seen some pretty generous offerings from cruise lines in recent years.”
Hurricane Bud is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations over southwest Mexico of 3 to 6 inches, with isolated totals up to 10 inches. The storm may cause flash flooding and mudslides before moving into the U.S. Southwest, triggering weekend thunderstorms in Phoenix and Tucson. It is not expected to affect Southern California weather.
You can follow the course of Hurricane Bud at the National Hurricane Center’s website.