Updated Travel Alert: Hurricane Matthew Impacts the United States

Hurricane Matthew 2016

You may want to consider delaying your travel if the southeastern coast of the United States is 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 before passing over the easternmost tip of Cuba and tearing through the Bahamas.

Travel to Haiti is not advised at this time in what is becoming 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; tens of thousands of 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.

Greater than 300 people are already reported dead in Haiti alone, with some towns virtually wiped out — and the death toll is expected to increase.

Updated Travel Alert: Hurricane Matthew Impacts the United States

Hurricane Matthew 2016
The eye of Hurricane Matthew is currently 45 miles east of Vero Beach in Florida, as outlined with a thin purple line. The islands of the Bahamas are also outlined with thin purple lines. Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States.

The maximum sustained winds of Hurricane Matthew are clocked at a speed of 120 miles per hour, so the storm has weakened somewhat again to a Category 3 storm after it had strengthened again to Category 4 status; but because its forward motion is only at 14 miles per hour to the northwest, 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.

Bizarre Facts Pertaining to Hurricane Matthew

One of the bizarre facts about Hurricane Matthew is that it is “hugging” along the coastline with the potential for landfall anywhere from northeastern Florida to southeastern North Carolina — there is no record of a hurricane following a similar track in the entire history of the official tracking of hurricanes — and landfall could occur more than once along the way. For a major hurricane to affect that portion of the southeastern coast of the United States is extremely unusual. In fact, Hurricane Matthew is the strongest storm to affect that area since Hurricane David back in 1979.

Additionally, Hurricane Matthew is expected to turn to the east prior to reaching the outer banks of North Carolina. This is due to a high pressure system which has developed over the northern United States, which is preventing the storm from moving further north as was originally expected; but the hurricane may loop around in a complete circle and possibly affect the east coast of Florida again due to Hurricane Nicole, which is off to the east out over the open Atlantic Ocean and will not affect the United States — but the storm should be significantly weakened if it indeed does loop around, as it cooled the temperature of the waters in which it passed over and therefore provide less “fuel” for the storm to strengthen.

Weather Watches, Warnings, Alerts and Emergencies

Weather alerts and states of emergencies continue to be in effect for four 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.

hurricane warning is currently in effect for the following locations:

  • Northwestern Bahamas, including:
    • The Abacos
    • Andros Island
    • Berry Islands
    • Bimini
    • Eleuthera
    • Grand Bahama Island
    • New Providence
  • Boca Raton to South Santee River
  • Lake Okeechobee

tropical storm warning is currently in effect for the following locations:

  • Ocean Reef to south of Boca Raton
  • Anclote River to Suwannee River
  • North of South Santee River to Surf City

tropical storm watch is currently in effect for the following location:

  • Englewood to Anclote River

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 eight airlines which have issued travel alerts as a result of Hurricane Matthew:

If you are stranded due to Hurricane Matthew, you need to find a place to stay — but many hotel and resort properties might already have no vacancies. “For those trying to put distance between themselves and Hurricane Matthew though, they are having difficulty finding alternate accommodations when it comes to settling in for the night/weekend”, according to this article — which offers advice on what to do in order to find a place to stay if you are an evacuee of the hurricane — written by Melinda Danielsen of Magic of Miles. “Rather than searching website after website to see which hotels remain open and still have room, a few special websites have emerged with consolidated data.”

Summary

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.

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