Hurricane Maria Strengthens; Hurricane Conditions in Turks and Caicos

Satellite photo of Hurricane Maria's position as of Friday morning // Photo by the National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Maria strengthened again slightly this morning as the storm nears the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas today.

According to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center, hurricane conditions are now occurring on Turks and Caicos. Still a powerful category 3 storm with winds of 125 mph, Hurricane Maria is set to move near or just east of Turks and Caicos and the southeastern Bahamas today.

The government of the Bahamas has changed the tropical storm watch for the central Bahamas to a tropical storm warning. A hurricane warning remains in effect for the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata; Turks and Caicos; and the southeastern Bahamas. A tropical storm warning is also in effect for the Dominican Republic west of Puerto Plata to the northern border with Haiti.

According to the BBC, the death toll from the storm across the Caribbean has risen to at least 30. At least 13 people died in Puerto Rico, which has completely lost power and is being subjected to heavy rain and flooding, with possible mudslides. 15 people died in Dominica, and another 20 remain missing, since the storm swept through the area on Monday. Two other people died in Guadeloupe.

Flight Updates

All flights at Providenciales International Airport in Turks and Caicos and St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands are canceled through September 22, according to the latest update from American Airlines. The reopening of the St. Croix airport is listed as pending an assessment. Additionally, St. Maartens airport plans to resume operations following damage sustained during Hurricane Irma October 1, while operations in St. Thomas are planned to resume September 23.

Operations resumed at Punta Cana International Airport in the Dominican Republic yesterday.

American Airlines has issued a travel waiver for customers flying through Providenciales and St. Thomas through October 31, with rebooked travel to take place through December 31. Customers traveling through St. Maarten through August 31, 2018, can rebook through September 30, 2018. Customers flying through Antigua and Nassau through September 30 can rebook through November 15, and customers flying through other affected Caribbean airports through September 30 can rebook through October 7.

Customers flying through St. Maarten, Providenciales and St. Thomas can contact American Airlines reservation department to change their origin and destination city, although a difference in fare will apply. In all other cases, customers must rebook between the same city pair in the original cabin class (or pay the difference).

United Airlines is waiving the change fee and any difference in fare on new flights departing through October 7. For wholly rescheduled travel departing after October 7, or for a change in departure or destination city, United will waive the change fee, but a difference in fare may apply. Rescheduled travel must be completed within one year from the date when the ticket was issued.

Delta has issued a travel waiver for flights through the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico through September 30. The ticket must be reissued on or before October 7, with rebooked travel to begin no later than that date. For flights through Turks and Caicos through October 31, the ticket must be reissued on or before the end of ticket eligibility, with rebooked travel to begin no later than October 31, 2018.

Southwest Airlines has issued a travel waiver for flights through September 30 through San Juan and Punta Cana. Customers can rebook in the original class of service or travel standby within 14 days of their original date of travel between the same city pair.

Finally, customers flying JetBlue through September 26 can rebook through October 7.

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