You may want to consider delaying your travel if the Bahamas or most of the east coast of the United States are in your travel plans over the next several days — or, at least, keep yourself updated as to the latest information pertaining to the weather as a result of Hurricane Matthew, which nipped southwestern Haiti and passed by the eastern shores of Jamaica.
Travel to Haiti is not advised at this time in what could be another significant humanitarian disaster since the devastating earthquake in 2010, as people who did not heed the warnings of the impending storm are currently missing; many homes have been damaged or destroyed; power is out in many places; a bridge connecting southern Haiti with the rest of the country was washed out; and some portions of the country may have experienced as much as 40 inches of rain. Despite the significant impact in which Hurricane Matthew dealt to Haiti, controversial elections which have long been delayed and are crucial to the future of the country have not been postponed and are still scheduled to occur at this time.
Nine deaths in four countries have already been attributed to Hurricane Matthew; but many more people are feared to be dead in Haiti. Reports of the damage which occurred in Haiti are first trickling in at the time this article was written.
Updated Travel Alert: Hurricane Matthew Aims for the Bahamas and the United States
The maximum sustained winds of Hurricane Matthew are clocked at a speed of 125 miles per hour, so the storm has weakened somewhat; but because its forward motion has slowed to only eight miles per hour to the north, its effects are pronounced — meaning more time for torrential rains which are causing catastrophic flooding, longer periods of damaging winds, and rougher surf pounding coastlines.
Had Hurricane Matthew tracked further west across Cuba, the mountainous terrain would have significantly weakened the storm — but because landfall occurred near the easternmost tip of Cuba, Matthew is expected to remain a Category 4 hurricane until after it ravages the Bahamas.
Another factor is that there are no fronts in the immediate vicinity to steer the storm away from the United States. I studied various weather maps and found only two fronts: one is out over the Atlantic Ocean where the tail end will miss Hurricane Matthew when it nears the southeastern coast of the United States; and the other is over the middle of the country and too far away to intercept and affect the forward motion of the hurricane before it approaches the United States. That front may intercept the storm later in the week.
What this means is that Hurricane Matthew is expected to approach closer to the east coast of the United States as a Category 3 hurricane and not weaker and further away as originally forecast; and that means weather alerts and states of emergencies have been issued for several states — including Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina — due to the distinct possibility of surging seas, locally damaging winds, flooding rains, beach erosion, strong rip currents and rough surf. Power outages and travel disruptions are almost a certainty as a result of the impact of the storm.
There is also a possibility that a landfall of Hurricane Matthew — the third one since Haiti and Cuba — could occur somewhere on either the northeastern coast of South Carolina or the southeastern coast of North Carolina sometime during this coming weekend.
The remainder of the east coast of the United States — all the way to the easternmost tip of Maine — is expected to experience high winds and flooding due to heavy rains, which could delay or even cancel flights; disrupt public transportation; and cause power outages.
Weather Watches and Warnings
A hurricane warning is currently in effect for the following locations:
- Cuban provinces of:
- Santiago de Cuba
- Las Tunas
- Southeastern Bahamas, including:
- The Inaguas
- Crooked Island
- Long Cay
- Ragged Island
- Central Bahamas, including:
- Long Island
- Rum Cay
- San Salvador
- Cat Island
- Northwestern Bahamas, including:
- The Abacos
- Andros Island
- Berry Islands
- Grand Bahama Island
- New Providence
- North of Golden Beach to Sebastian Inlet in Florida
- Lake Okeechobee in Florida
A hurricane watch is currently in effect for the following locations:
- Cuban province of Camaguey
- North of Sebastian Inlet to the border line of Flagler and Volusia counties in Florida
A tropical storm warning is currently in effect for the following locations:
- Dominican Republic from Barahona westward to the border with Haiti
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- Chokoloskee to Golden Beach
- Florida Keys from Seven Mile Bridge eastward
- Florida Bay
A tropical storm watch is currently in effect for the following location:
- Dominican Republic from Puerto Plata westward to the border with Haiti
These weather watches and warnings can change at any time as determined by the progress of Hurricane Matthew; so keep yourself updated with the latest information if you are to be affected.
Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations
If you are traveling to anywhere in the Bahamas or the entire east coast of the United States over the next week or so, expect delays and cancellations. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to these tropical 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 will most likely 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 seven airlines which have issued travel alerts as a result of Hurricane Matthew:
- Delta Air Lines
- American Airlines
- JetBlue Airways
- Caribbean Airlines
- United Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
The aforementioned alerts widely vary by airline; so 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.