Hurricane Irma: States of Emergency for Southeastern United States; Updated Travel Waivers

As Hurricane Irma is bearing down on the Turks and Caicos islands with what will be a direct hit and cause catastrophic devastation there, at least four states in the southeastern United States are under states of emergency, as this situation is considered life-threatening by officials. Mandatory evacuation orders are — or will be — in effect along the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina; and reverse lane operations will be in effect on Interstate highways such as 16 from Savannah.

At least 13 fatalities have already been reported as a result of Hurricane Irma — and that death toll is expected to increase. Many more people have suffered from injuries and are homeless.

Hurricane Irma: States of Emergency for Southeastern United States; Updated Travel Waivers

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma churns in the Atlantic Ocean as it heads west northwest towards the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas, which are outlined with purple lines. Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States.

Although the maximum sustained winds have been reduced to 175 miles per hour, Irma is still a dangerous Category 5 hurricane — and with warm waters and no wind shear ahead in its path, the storm shows no signs of weakening significantly anytime soon. At 35 consecutive hours and counting, Irma has shattered a worldwide record of maintaining its strength of sustained wind speeds of 185 miles per hour as a Category 5 hurricane for the longest duration in recorded history.

Thousands of flights and cruises have already been canceled as a result of Hurricane Irma, which is currently approximately 65 miles north northeast of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic and moving west northwest at 16 miles per hour. It is the textbook example of a powerful hurricane: compact yet symmetrical, with an eye which is clearly defined.

As much as 25 inches of rain, a storm surge as high as 20 feet, dangerous rip currents, rough high surf, beach erosion, power outages, and destructive winds capable of widespread damage to trees and to structures can be expected.

A storm surge of up to ten feet is expected in Miami Beach, Hollywood and other cities on both the east and west coasts of Florida. The southern portion of the Florida peninsula — from Jupiter Inlet to Bonita Beach and the Florida Keys — is currently under a storm surge watch. Supplies — including food and gasoline — are dwindling in southern Florida; and stores are expected to close within the next 48 hours.

Mandatory and Voluntary Evacuations in the southeastern United States

Evacuation routes are already clogged; but do not let that dissuade you from evacuating. Activate the traffic function on the interactive map shown above. Interstates 75 and 95 in the state of Florida — as well as Interstate 95 north of Savannah, Interstate 75 south of Atlanta, and Interstate 26 out of Charleston — have traffic which is stopped heading northbound or westbound. Use GasBuddy for information on gasoline prices and availability, as greater than 33 percent of the fuel stations in South Florida are depleted of their supplies in what has been becoming a growing shortage of gasoline. Tolls have already been suspended on all highways throughout the state of Florida until further notice.

If you do decide to evacuate and do not have a place to stay, book your hotel room as soon as possible, as hotels all along the major evacuation routes are filling up fast.

Hurricane and Tropical Storm Warnings and Watches

Hurricane warnings have been issued for parts of the northern coast of the Dominican Republic and Haiti; the southeastern, central and northwestern Bahamas; and the Turks and Caicos Islands, which is about to experience catastrophic devastation within the next 90 minutes from Hurricane Irma. Approximately 90 percent of the structures in Barbuda have been damaged or destroyed — the winds of Hurricane Irma were so strong that vegetation was stripped of leaves and bark in the Virgin Islands and Saint Martin — and Hurricane José is threatening to bring more misery to those islands and other areas of the Lesser Antilles within the next 36 hours.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the much of the southern coasts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti; while a tropical storm warning is in effect for the provinces of Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas, Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus and Villa Clara in Cuba.

A hurricane watch is in effect for the southern half for Florida — as well as the northwestern Bahamas; and from Matanzas Province eastward to Guantanamo Province in Cuba.

Interruptions in Airline Operations

Expected systemwide disruptions on American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, which have hub airports in Miami, Charlotte and Atlanta — all of which are in or near the projected path of Hurricane Irma. Due to the “domino effect”, your flight might be impacted — even if you are traveling nowhere near the areas to be affected by Hurricane Irma.

In addition to most of the entire state of Florida and the eastern half of Georgia, other cities in the projected path of Hurricane Irma include Charleston, Raleigh, Greenville, Knoxville, Wilmington, Columbia, Roanoke, Spartanburg and Durham.

Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations

If you are traveling to anywhere in the Bahamas and the southeastern United States over the next few days, expect delays and cancellations of flights. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to this tropical weather system which may adversely affect your travel plans. Better yet, postponing or canceling your trip might be a better option — no matter which mode of travel you plan on taking.

If you have a flight scheduled, your flight may be delayed or canceled — and you may be eligible for a waiver of a fee to change your itinerary. If you are driving in any of these areas, watch out for deteriorating weather conditions and traffic problems.

Here are 37 airlines which have issued travel alerts as a result of this tropical weather system:

  • Delta Air Lines has issued travel alerts for 31 airports in total:
    • San Juan, Turks and Caicos, Saint Maarten, Punta Cana, Santiago, Saint Croix and Saint Thomas for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Saturday, September 9, 2017; and Tuesday, September 12, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Havana, four airports in the Bahamas, 16 airports in Florida, and two airports in Georgia for Wednesday, September 6, 2017 through Sunday, September 17, 2017; and Saturday, September 30, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Additionally, temporary waivers of fees for baggage and pets have been applied to 28 airports in the Turks and Caicos islands; the Dominican Republic; the Virgin Islands; Cuba; the Bahamas and the United States.
  • American Airlines has canceled all flights to and from Miami for Saturday, September 9, 2017 through Sunday, September 10, 2017; and has issued travel alerts for 45 airports in total:
    • Anguilla, Antigua, Turks and Caicos, Saint Kitts, Saint Maarten, San Juan, three airports in both sets of the Virgin Islands, two airports in Haiti, and four airports in the Dominican Republic for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Saturday, September 9, 2017; and Tuesday, September 12, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Six airports in the Bahamas and six airports in Cuba for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Tuesday, September 12, 2017; and Friday, September 15, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Fifteen airports in Florida for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Sunday, September 17, 2017; and Saturday, September 30, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Charleston, Hilton Head and Savannah for Wednesday, September 6, 2017 through Sunday, September 17, 2017; and Saturday, September 30, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • United Airlines has issued travel alerts for 21 airports in total:
    • Aguadilla and San Juan in Puerto Rico for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Thursday, September 7, 2017; and Monday, September 11, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Providenciales, Havana, Nassau and four airports in the Dominican Republic for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Saturday, September 9, 2017; and Tuesday, September 12, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Savannah, Charleston, and ten airports in Florida for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Tuesday, September 12, 2017; and Friday, September 15, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • JetBlue Airways has issued travel alerts for 27 airports in total and canceled 878 flights through Monday, September 11, 2017 as of the time this article was written:
    • Antigua, three airports in Puerto Rico, and three airports in the Virgin Islands for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Saturday, September 9, 2017; and Tuesday, September 19, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Providenciales, Nassau, four airports in Cuba, and four airports in the Dominican Republic for Wednesday, September 6, 2017 through Monday, September 11, 2017; and Tuesday, September 19, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Eight airports in Florida for Wednesday, September 6 through Sunday, September 11, 2017; and Tuesday, September 19, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Savannah and Charleston for Thursday, September 7 through Sunday, September 11, 2017; and Thursday, September 14, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Additionally, JetBlue Airways has capped the cost of flights from areas affected by Hurricane Irma to $99.00.
  • Alaska Airlines has issued travel alerts for Havana and three airports in Florida for Wednesday, September 6, 2017 through Tuesday, September 12, 2017; and Tuesday, September 19, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin. Additionally:
    • All Virgin America operated flights into and out of Fort Lauderdale and Orlando are canceled through Tuesday, September 12, 2017.
    • Alaska Airlines operated flights into and out of Fort Lauderdale are canceled for Friday, September 8, 2017 through Sunday, September 10, 2017.
    • Alaska Airlines operated flights into and out of Havana are canceled for Saturday, September 9, 2017 through Sunday, September 10, 2017.
  • Southwest Airlines has issued travel alerts for ten airports — six of which are located in Florida — for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Sunday, September 17, 2017; and Sunday, October 1, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Spirit Airlines has issued travel alerts for ten airports in total:
    • Two airports in Puerto Rico and Saint Thomas for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Thursday, September 7, 2017; and Monday, September 11, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Two airports in the Dominican Republic and Port-au-Prince for Thursday, September 7, 2017 through Friday, September 8, 2017; and Tuesday, September 12, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando and Tampa for Wednesday, September 6, 2017 through Monday, September 11, 2017; and Saturday, September 16, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Frontier Airlines has issued travel alerts for San Juan, Punta Cana, and five airports in Florida for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Tuesday, September 12, 2017; and Sunday, October 15, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin. Additionally, flights into and out of:
    • Orlando International Airport will stop at 5:30 in the evening on Saturday, September 9, 2017. All operations on Sunday, September 10, 2017 and Monday, September 11, 2017 are expected to be cancelled. Operations are expected to be limited on Tuesday, September 12, 2017.
    • Miami International Airport will stop on Saturday, September 9, 2017 in the evening as the storm approaches the southern edge of Florida. Flights on Sunday, September 10, 2017 and Monday, September 11, 2017 into and out of Miami are expected to be cancelled. Operations are expected to be limited on Tuesday, September 12, 2017.
    • Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International airport will stop at 5:00pm on Friday evening as the airport expects to close throughout the duration of Hurricane Irma. Flights on Saturday, September 9, 2017, Sunday, September 10, 2017 and Monday, September 11, 2017 into and out of Fort Lauderdale are cancelled. Operations are expected to resume on Tuesday, September 12, 2017.
    • Fort Myers/Southwest Florida International Airport on Sunday, September 10, 2017 and Monday, September 11, 2017 are cancelled. Operations are hopeful to resume on Tuesday (9/12).
    • Tampa International Airport are expected to operate on Saturday. With the airport closing, operations on Sunday, September 10, 2017 and Monday, September 11, 2017 into and out of Tampa are cancelled. Operations are hopeful to resume on Tuesday, September 12, 2017.
    • San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International airport are currently cancelled. Decisions regarding the resumption of service into and out of San Juan are on-going, based on airport conditions.
  • Silver Airways has issued travel alerts for nine airports in Florida for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Monday, September 11, 2017; and Friday, October 20, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Allegiant Air has issued travel alerts for Puerto Rico and five airports in Florida for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Tuesday, September 12, 2017; and Tuesday, September 26, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin. In addition, all flights included on this list have already been canceled without reschedule.
  • Sun Country Airlines has issued travel alerts for Fort Myers, Orlando and Savannah for Thursday, September 7, 2017 through Thursday, September 14, 2017; and Saturday, September 30, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin
  • Air Canada has issued travel alerts for 14 airports and all airports served in Florida:
    • Antigua, Port au Prince, Santa Clara, Fort-de-France, and three airports in the Dominican Republic for Monday, September 4, 2017 through Friday, September 8, 2017; and Sunday, October 1, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Providenciales, Nassau, Exuma, and four airports in Cuba for Monday, September 4, 2017 through Sunday, September 10, 2017; and Sunday, October 1, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Atlanta, Savannah, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and all airports served by Air Canada in Florida for Monday, September 4, 2017 through Sunday, September 17, 2017; and Sunday, October 1, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • WestJet Airways has issued travel alerts for the Antigua, Barbuda, St. Maarten, Turks and Caicos, Providenciales, Nassau, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Florida for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Monday, September 11, 2017.
  • Air Transat has issued travel alerts for Port au Prince, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, four airports in Cuba, and four airports in the Dominican Republic through Monday, September 11, 2017. Additionally, numerous flights have either been rescheduled or canceled.
  • Aeromexico has issued travel alerts for four airports in total:
    • Havana and Santo Domingo for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Saturday, September 9, 2017; and Tuesday, September 12, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Miami and Orlando for Wednesday, September 6, 2017 through Sunday, September 10, 2017; and Thursday, September 14, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Volaris has issued a travel alert of flight cancellations for Miami and Orlando for Saturday, September 9, 2017 through Sunday, September 10, 2017.
  • Copa Airlines has issued travel alerts for Saint Martin, Port au Prince, Nassau, San Juan, three airports in Cuba, three airports in the Dominican Republic, and four airports in Florida for Monday, September 4, 2017 through Tuesday, September 12, 2017; and Saturday, September 30, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Aerolineas Argentinas has issued a travel alert of flight cancellations for Miami for Friday, September 8, 2017 through Saturday, September 9, 2017; and Friday, November 10, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Avianca has issued travel alerts for Dominican Republic, Punta Cana, San Juan, Havana, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Tuesday, September 12, 2017; and Tuesday, October 31, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin — with the exceptions of Sunday, October 1, 2017 through Tuesday, October 17, 2017.
  • Sunwing has issued travel alerts for Puerto Plata, Cuba, the Bahamas, and Saint Martin or St Maarten, as one flight to Toronto and another flight to Montréal which were originally scheduled to depart Tuesday, September 5, 2017 have been rescheduled to Thursday, September 7, 2017 due to the closure of the airport. Other flights have either been canceled or changed through Sunday, September 10, 2017.
  • Aruba Airlines has issued a travel alert for Miami for Friday, September 8, 2017 through Sunday, September 10, 2017; and Tuesday, October 10, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin
  • Caribbean Airlines has issued travel alerts for Fort Lauderdale, Sint Maarten, Nassau and Port of Spain for Friday, September 8, 2017 through Saturday, September 9, 2017; and Sunday, September 17, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin. Additionally, numerous flights have either been rescheduled or canceled.
  • Cayman Airways has issued travel alerts for Miami, Tampa, and Havana for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Tuesday, September 12, 2017; and travel for changed flight segments may be rebooked for a date up to six months from the original travel dates, or within 12 months of the original purchase date, whichever is sooner. Additionally, numerous flights have either been rescheduled or canceled.
  • InselAir has issued a travel alert for Saint Martin or St Maarten for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Wednesday, September 6, 2017, as all flights to and from this airport have been canceled. The airline requests that you check here for the latest updates at its official Internet web sites on Facebook and Twitter.
  • LATAM Airlines has issued travel alerts for Punta Cana, Havana, Miami and Orlando for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Tuesday, September 11, 2017; and Friday, October 6, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Virgin Atlantic Airlines has issued travel alerts for Antigua, Havana, Georgetown, Freeport, Nassau, and 16 airports in Florida for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Sunday, September 17, 2017; and Saturday, October 14, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • British Airways has issued travel alerts for Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and Orlando for Thursday, September 7, 2017 through Sunday, September 17, 2017; and Saturday, October 14, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin. Information pertaining to flights to and from Antigua, Grand Cayman, Nassau, St Kitts, Punta Cana, Tobago or Providenciales prior to Sunday, September 10, 2017 is also provided here.
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has issued travel alerts for Saint Martin or St Maarten, Havana, Charleston, Brunswick, Savannah, three airports in the Bahamas, and 16 airports in Florida for Wednesday, September 6, 2017 through Sunday, September 17, 2017; and Saturday, September 30, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Lufthansa has issued travel alerts for Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Havana, Varadero, Punta Cana and Puerto Plata for Wednesday, September 6, 2017 through Saturday, September 9, 2017; and Thursday, October 12, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin. These travel alerts also include flights operated by SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Eurowings, Edelweiss Air and Brussels Airlines.
  • Alitalia has issued travel alerts for Miami and Havana for Wednesday, September 6, 2017 through Tuesday, September 12, 2017; and Friday, September 15, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Air Europa has issued travel alerts for Punta Cana, Santo Domingo, San Juan, Miami and Havana for Wednesday, September 6, 2017 through Tuesday, September 12, 2017; and Saturday, September 30, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Air France has issued travel alerts for 25 airports in total:
    • Saint Marteen, Pointe à Pitre, Fort de France, Punta Cana, Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince for Tuesday, September 5, 2017 through Saturday, September 9, 2017; and Friday, September 15, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Havana, three airports in Nassau, and 15 airports in Florida for Wednesday, September 6, 2017 through Sunday, September 10, 2017; and Thursday, September 14, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • TAP Portugal has issued a travel alert for Miami for Saturday, September 9, 2017 through Monday, September 11, 2017. The airline requests that you call 1-800-221-7370 in the United States or 707 205 700 in Portugal; or check for the latest updates at its official Internet web sites on Facebook.
  • Aer Lingus has issued travel alerts for Miami or Orlando for Friday, September 8, 2017 through Monday, September 11, 2017; and Monday, September 25, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Norwegian Air Shuttle may issue travel alerts for Florida for flights operating on Monday, September 11, 2017; and Wednesday, September 27, 2017 would be the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • WOW Air has issued travel alerts for four flights between Miami and Keflavík International Airport — two of those flights have already been canceled.
  • Thomas Cook has issued travel alerts for the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Miami and Orlando through Sunday, September 10, 2017; and other information is listed as well. As Condor is part of the Thomas Cook group, information pertaining to this airline with regard to Hurricane Irma is found here.

Links to Travel Alerts From Lodging Companies

Here are some of the hotel and resort properties which will be affected by Hurricane Irma:

Links to Travel Alerts for Cruise Lines

As I have received numerous requests pertaining to cruises, here are the links to three cruise lines pertaining to Hurricane Irma:

  • Royal Caribbean International has issued this travel alert which states that two Bahamas cruises and one Cuba cruise have been canceled and that they “are closely monitoring Hurricane Irma’s path and its potential impact to our current and upcoming sailings.” The schedules of several other cruises have been modified.
  • Carnival Cruise Line has issued this travel alert which states that two cruises have been cancelled and that the cruise line is “closely monitoring the path of Hurricane Irma and thus far have made itinerary changes to ensure our ships maintain a safe distance from the storm. In addition we are making preparations for a potential landfall in South Florida. The safety of our guests and team members is our first priority. We will continue to make adjustments as necessary and will provide further updates as they become available.”
  • MSC Cruises has issued this travel alert which states that one cruise ship is heading directly back to Miami for passengers to e=disembark safely prior to the arrival of the storm; and that “Hurricane Irma has now developed into category 5 and is still over the Eastern Caribbean. We are closely monitoring the weather situation. No changes to MSC Divina’s itinerary are required at this point. Next update to follow later in the day.”

Summary

Expect more travel alerts from additional airlines and cruise lines over the next several days to be expanded; and I will do my best to inform you if your travel plans are indeed affected.

I will do my best to continue to answer your questions pertaining to Hurricane Irma, as I have done in this articlein this article, and in this article. If I am missing the travel alerts of any airlines or cruise lines, please ask, as I intend to update this article until a new article is warranted.

If you are located in the southeastern United States, keep yourself updated with the latest information so that you are able to evacuate as early as possible if the weather forecast becomes bleak and threatening.

Do not panic or “freak out” if your travels are to be impacted by this powerful hurricane — just be prepared. Be sure to contact your airline or transportation provider for the latest information pertaining to your travels — if they are adversely affected — and please: travel safely.

Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States.

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