Hurricane Irma has already caused the death of 13 persons as she now heads towards Florida!
Caymanians are being asked to prepare ahead of what looks like a direct hit on Florida by Hurricane Irma. Behind Irma is Hurricane Jose; which is expected to take a similar path.
The Port of Miami, in Miami, FL., will be closed as of tomorrow. Cayman Islands residents are encouraged to stock up on non-perishable items, meat, and consumables as there will likely be food shortages coming from the United States.
Port Authority Cayman Islands will also close as of tonight. The last boat will be in tonight.
Many locals have direct ties to Florida with family members residing there as well as university students attending school. In some instances, parents have opted to pay for their children to return home and wait on further updates. Some reports have indicated that Miami could be uninhabitable for weeks if the system continues along the current path. With the area not having such a direct and potentially devastating hit since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
There are many useful tips on how to prepare yourself for Hurricane season including local guides.
we found this one to be particularly useful: Hurricane Tips
There are concerns about travel and fool supply and we have provided updates below that should be useful.
Cayman Airways Updates:
Special evacuation fares of US$69 each way between the Cayman Islands and Tampa or Miami have been added to supersede previously issued hurricane fares. Travel with this US$69 fare must be completed by September 17. This special fare has no change-fee penalties and includes the standard 2 free checked bags up to 55lbs. Applicable government and airport taxes & fees are additional. There is no add-on for travel to/from the Sister Islands with this special fare.
As announced on Tuesday, September 5, 2017, change fees are continuing to be waived for passengers who wish to cancel their flight reservations for travel between the Cayman Islands and Miami, Tampa, and Havana. The waiver applies to those passengers who are holding ticketed reservations made on or before September 5, 2017, for travel between September 5-12, 2017. 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. Refunds are not allowed on non-refundable tickets.
Foster's Food Fair:
Customers on all three islands are concerned about the potential disruption in our food supply chain given that a vast majority of our grocery supplies come directly via the Miami ports.
Foster's Food Fair has reassured the public that they will keep the store shelves packed. However, if Florida is hit we can expect that shipping will be affected and as such a contingency plan to import goods via plane at no additional cost to the consumer has already been readied. A press release from them states ” We are in constant discussions with the three carriers on their state of readiness before, during and after the storm and we will update the public as soon as we can with up to date information.”
They have urged shoppers not to panic as there are numbers ports out of Florida that we have access to.
CMR has reached out to both the Scholarship Secretariat office and the Minister responsible for Education, Julianne O'Connor-Connolly and have not received a response to our query. We understand that there are some students would like to come home but are unable to afford the ticket. We are unaware of any contingency plans in the event of a catastrophic event.
We will the public if we receive a response.
Hurricane Irma Update
A hurricane watch and a storm surge watch are up for Florida, from the Florida Keys to Jupiter Inlet, as Category 5 Hurricane Irma heads steadily west-northwest at 16 mph.
Hurricane Irma delivered a devastating blow to the Lesser Antilles islands of Barbuda, Saint Barthelemy, Anguilla, and Saint Martin/Sint Maarten early Wednesday morning, then plowed directly through the British Virgin Islands on Wednesday afternoon, packing top winds of 185 mph during the entire rampage. Ten deaths are being blamed on the storm—six on St. Martin, two on Saint Barthelemy, one on Barbuda, and one on Anguilla. Damage photos from the islands show destruction characteristic of an EF4 tornado, and Irma’s 185 mph winds were indeed in the EF4 range of tornado wind speeds. The first island Irma hit, Barbuda (population 2,000) was judged “practically uninhabitable” by the prime minister after 90% of the buildings were damaged and 60% of the population was left homeless.
Irma slightly weaker on Thursday afternoon
Irma has been weakening slightly today. Peak winds fell from 185 mph at 1 am EDT Thursday to 180 mph at 2 am, then to 175 mph at 11 am—still solidly in the Category 5 range. The minimum pressure rose from 914 mb at midnight to 921 mb at 11 am. The most recent 11:56 am EDT eye report from the Hurricane Hunters found another bump up in pressure, to 923 mb. Infrared satellite loops show that the heavy thunderstorms that surround Irma’s eye are no longer as symmetrical or intense. This is particularly true on the storm’s west side, where some moderate wind shear near 10 knots is affecting the storm. Irma’s weakening is also likely due to an eyewall replacement cycle and interaction with the large island of Hispaniola, to the south of Irma. Total precipitable water loops from Thursday, for example, showed that Hispaniola was blocking the inflow of moisture from the south, reducing the amount of moisture in Irma’s core. Irma's circulation is also pulling air across and then down the high mountains of the island into the core of the hurricane; the downslope winds dry as they descend, injecting more dry air into Irma.
Despite this weakening, even 175 mph winds are catastrophic, and Irma will cause extreme damage in the Turks and Caicos Islands when it moves through on Thursday afternoon, and in the southeast Bahamas on Thursday night and Friday. Parts of central and eastern Cuba and northern Hispaniola may receive localized rainfall of up to 15 inches as Irma passes by. Storm surge levels could reach as high as 20 feet in the Southeastern and Central Bahamas, and as high as 10 feet on parts of Cuba's northern coast.
Irma maintained 185 mph maximum winds for an extraordinary 37 hours, the longest for any tropical cyclone on record, globally, in the satellite era (since 1966.) The previous record was Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Northwest Pacific, at 24 hours, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach.