Travel Alert August 2020: Two Tropical Storms Currently Affecting the Caribbean

If the Caribbean region is in your travel plans over the next few days, you may want to consider delaying your travel — or, at least, keep yourself updated as to the latest information pertaining to the weather — due to both Tropical Storm Laura and Tropical Storm Marco.

Travel Alert August 2020: Two Tropical Storms Currently Affecting the Caribbean

Both the eastern and western Caribbean region are currently being affected by tropical storms, with Tropical Storm Marco between Cuba and Mexico; and Tropical Storm Laura west of Puerto Rico.

Two active tropical storms in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time is a rare event which has only been recorded twice: Tuesday, September 5, 1933; and Thursday, June 18, 1959…

…and if Tropical Storm Laura and Tropical Storm Marco were to both strengthen to hurricane status while in the Gulf of Mexico, that would be the first time in recorded history that two active hurricanes were in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time — and both tropical systems could impact the gulf coast of Louisiana in the United States with landfalls within as few as two days of each other.

If those two tropical systems were close enough to each other, one storm could weaken the other by either shearing it — tropical systems in the northern hemisphere always spin counterclockwise, so the winds on the sides of each storm would slam into each other — or by sapping its power. Both active tropical storms strengthening simultaneously while too close together is highly unlikely.

Furthermore, if one tropical system were to take generally the same path over open water relatively immediately after another tropical system, that second tropical system will not gain as much strength because the first tropical system will have already used some of the warm water — or “fuel” — which is needed for development and strengthening.

Tropical Storm Marco

Source: National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States.

Maximum sustained winds of Tropical Storm Marco — which is currently centered approximately 90 miles east northeast of Cancún and is moving north northwest at 13 miles per hour — are 65 miles per hour, which means that this storm is close to becoming classified as a minimal Category 1 hurricane. Although it is expected to strengthen to hurricane status as soon as tonight, Saturday, August 22, 2020, Tropical Storm Marco is not forecast to be stronger than a Category 1 hurricane prior to landfall on the coast of Louisiana.

A tropical storm warning is currently in effect for the western quarter of Cuba; hurricane watches have been issued for the gulf coast from Intracoastal City in southern Louisiana to Dauphin Island on the eastern edge of Mobile Bay in Alabama, which includes the city of New Orleans; and a tropical storm watch is in effect for the remainder of the coast of Alabama to the state line it shares with Florida, which includes the city of Mobile.

Tropical Storm Laura

Source: National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States.

Meanwhile, maximum sustained winds of Tropical Storm Laura — which is currently centered just southeast of Punta Cana off the coast of the Dominican Republic and is moving west at 18 miles per hour — are 50 miles per hour. Landfall of this storm is expected later tonight on the southeastern coast of the Dominican Republic. This tropical storm is not expected to strengthen to hurricane status until as early as sometime in the morning of Tuesday, August 25, 2020; and it is not forecast to be stronger than a Category 1 hurricane prior to landfall on the coast of Louisiana.

Tropical storm warnings are currently in effect for portions of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the southeastern Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos, and the eastern half of Cuba; while tropical storm watches have been issued for the central Bahamas and the Florida Keys.

The areas which will be impacted by both tropical storms may likely experience flash flooding from up to ten inches of heavy rain, locally damaging winds with gusts up to as strong as 80 miles per hour at times, rough surf, a storm surge of up to six feet, mudslides, and electric power outages. Tornadoes are possible as well.

Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations

If you are traveling to or from the Caribbean region over the next few days, expect delays and cancellations of flights. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to these two tropical weather systems 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.

Here are six airlines which have issued travel alerts — or are at least monitoring the storm — as a result of these two tropical weather systems:

  • American Airlines has issued travel alerts for 12 cities in six countries for Saturday, August 22, 2020 through Sunday, August 23, 2020; and Saturday, August 29, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Delta Air Lines has issued travel alerts for six cities in four countries for Saturday, August 22, 2020 through Sunday, August 23, 2020; and Saturday, August 29, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Southwest Airlines has issued travel alerts for:
    • San Juan for Friday, August 21, 2020 through Saturday, August 22, 2020; and Saturday, September 5, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Cancún for Saturday, August 22, 2020 through Sunday, August 23, 2020; and Sunday, September 6, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • JetBlue Airways has issued travel alerts for seven cities in four countries for Saturday, August 22, 2020 through Sunday, August 23, 2020; and Saturday, August 29, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Spirit Airlines has issued travel alerts for nine cities in five countries for Saturday, August 22, 2020 through Sunday, August 23, 2020; and Saturday, August 29, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Sun Country Airlines has issued a travel alert for Cancún for Saturday, August 22, 2020 through Sunday, August 23, 2020; and Saturday, August 29, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.

Summary

Expect more travel alerts to be issued by more airlines as these two tropical systems progress over the coming days.

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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