Hurricane Maria Hits Cat 5; Heads for Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

Hurricane Maria's forecast track as of Tuesday morning // Map by the National Hurricane Center

With the Virgin Islands still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria is now set to impact the destination as a powerful category four or five storm.

According to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Maria currently has maximum sustained winds of 160 mph, making it a category 5, and the storm is forecast to remain an extremely dangerous category 4 or 5 storm as it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico tonight and Wednesday.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Guadeloupe; Dominica; St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat; the U.S. Virgin Islands; the British Virgin Islands; and Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques. A tropical storm warning is in effect for Antigua and Barbuda; Saba and St. Eustaius; St. Maarten; Anguilla; and Martinique. A hurricane watch is in effect for Saba and St. Eustatius; St. Maarten; St. Martin and St. Barts; Anguilla; and an area ranging from Isla Saona to Puerto Plata. A tropical storm watch is also in effect for an area west of Puerto Plata to the northern Dominican Republic – Haiti border.

Flight Updates

American Airlines has issued a change waiver for customers traveling through Providenciales, Turks and Caicos and St. Thomas in the USVI through October 31. Rebooked travel must take place through December 31 between the same city pair in the same cabin (or pay the difference). Customers flying through St. Maarten through August 31 can rebook for travel through September 30. Customers flying through a number of other impacted Caribbean destinations through September 26 can rebook through October 2. In all cases customers must have bought their tickets by September 18.

United Airlines customers flying through Puerto Rico through September 23 can rebook through September 30. For rescheduled travel departing after September 30, the airline will waive the change fee, but a difference in fare may apply.

Delta customers traveling through the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico through September 26 can rebook through October 2, with the new ticket to be issued no later than that date.

Southwest Airlines reports that it is evaluating the need for additional service from San Juan, Puerto Rico, in advance of the storms arrival. Some additional flights to and from San Juan may not be immediately visible on the airlines website, and so customers are encouraged to call 1-800-IFLYSWA (1-800-435-9792) for the latest flight information. Customers who are flying through September 22 can rebook in the original class of service or travel standby within 14 days of their original date of departure between the original city pair.

JetBlue is offering a waiver for customers flying through September 21 for rebooked travel through September 30. The original travel must have been booked on or before September 17.

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