No longer a tropical storm, Dorian has gathered strength and currently has the potential to materialize into a catastrophic Category 3 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center reports.
When a Category 3 hurricane develops, devastating damage will occur. Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Category 3 hurricanes produce winds between 178-208 km/h. When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico back in 2017 as a Category 5 hurricane, the wind speeds were measured between 252 km/h or higher.
If Dorian develops into a Category 3 hurricane, electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes in affected destinations.
As of 5:00 a.m. AST (0900 UTC), the centre of Hurricane Dorian was located near latitude 20.5 North, longitude 66.6 West. Dorian is moving toward the northwest near 13 mph (20 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue through Friday.
Stay out of the surf
A west-northwestward motion is forecast to begin Friday night and continue into the weekend. On this track, Dorian should move east over the Atlantic, far from the southeastern and central Bahamas today and on Friday (Aug. 30), and approach the northwestern Bahamas on Saturday.
Maximum sustained winds are near 85 mph (140 km/h) with higher gusts, and Dorian is expected to become a major hurricane on Friday. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles (30 km) from the centre, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles (150 km), the NHC reports.
Heavy rainfall and surf swells are to be expected, which can produce life-threatening flash-flooding and dangerous surf conditions. Dorian is expected to dump two to four inches of rain in the central Bahamas, and between four to eight inches of rain in the northwestern Bahamas and coastal sections of the southeast U.S.
Swells around the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are expected to gradually diminish today. Swells are likely to begin affecting the east-facing shores of the Bahamas and the southeastern United States coast during the next few days.
No coastal warnings or advisories are currently in effect, however these swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
Caribbean islands brace for impact
Yesterday afternoon, the Governor of the British Virgin Islands enacted a curfew that was enforced at 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. this morning, or until an all-clear is issued by the proper authorities.
Puerto Rico Governor, Hon. Wanda Vázquez, issued an executive order banning alcohol sales and consumption, or “dry law”, yesterday afternoon at 2:00 p.m., remaining in effect for 24 hours (2:00 p.m. today). PRTC certified lodging properties and establishments within its perimeter are excluded from this order.
"We encourage hospitality management staff to take all available measures to ensure the safe and responsible consumption of alcohol during this time," the Puerto Rico Tourism Company said in a statement.
Canadian airlines offer updates
There are currently no travel alerts listed for the Caribbean by Air Canada; all flights are operating as scheduled.
Air Transat is authorizing change of date and/or destination for trips completed by Oct. 31, 2019, for its flights to Punta Cana operating today (Aug. 29) inclusive, booked before Aug. 25, 2019. Request for cancellation will be subject to Air Transat's terms and conditions.
WestJet has issued a new travel alert for guests travelling to or from Nassau (NAS) for travel between Aug. 30, 2019 to Sept. 1, 2019, as a result of Hurricane Dorian, as well as for travellers heading to or from Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Orlando (MCO), Miami (MIA), Fort Myers (RSW), and Tampa (TPA).
Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!