by Natalie Paris from The Telegraph, September 5, 2017
How bad will Hurricane Irma be?
Hurricane Irma was upgraded to a powerful Category 4 storm on Monday as islands in its path braced for its impact. Hurricane advisories were issued in the West Indies in preparation for the storm. Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Martin, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and St. Barts, were all given hurricane warnings, as well as parts of the Leeward Islands, the British and US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for Guadeloupe and Dominica.
States of emergency were declared in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and all of Florida while people on various Caribbean islands boarded up homes and rushed to find last-minute supplies, forming long lines outside supermarkets and gas stations.
Authorities warned that the storm could dump up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain, cause landslides and dangerous flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet (7 meters).
"This is not an opportunity to go outside and try to have fun with a hurricane," Kenneth Mapp, Governor of the US Virgin Islands, warned. "It's not time to get on a surfboard."
The Foreign Office has updated its advice to warn: "Hurricane Irma is forecast to bring hazardous sea and weather conditions to Puerto Rico and north-eastern parts of the Caribbean from around Wednesday 6 September 2017. You should follow the advice of the local authorities and any evacuation orders."
Will the hurricane affect my flight?
British Airways has cancelled two flights, BA2157 from London Gatwick to Antigua and Tobago, and BA2156 from Tobago to Antigua.
“We have provided a special flight to Antigua to get our customers home before Hurricane Irma is expected to arrive on the island,” a BA spokesman said.
“The Antigua Airport authorities say that operations will be significantly impacted today, so we have offered all affected customers a range of rebooking options.
“We are in regular contact with our airport partners throughout the region, and are keeping our flights to other Caribbean islands under review.”
BA said it is doing all it can to get passengers to their final destinations. Some will be able to rebook with Caribbean Airlines via Port of Spain or with American Airlines, via Miami.
Delta is rescheduling flights. Its website states that customers can make a one-time change to their tickets without a fee, if they are booked to travel to San Juan, St. Croix, St. Maarten or St. Thomas. The difference in fare may be charged however.
American Airlines is also cancelling and rescheduling flights and has a longer list of destinations to which flights can be amended for no extra fee on its website.
Will the hurricane affect my cruise?
Major cruise lines have been re-routing their itineraries.
Earlier this week, Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and MSC Divina were affected, changing from an Eastern Caribbean trip to a Western Caribbean one, from September 3.
Passengers on both ships were promised refunds for pre-booked shore excursions that would no longer be possible.
Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Equinox, meanwhile, modified its Southern Caribbean itinerary when departing from Miami.
Four Carnival Cruise Line ships that will be sailing in the area this week – Carnival Glory, Carnival Magic, Carnival Splendor and Carnival Pride – have adjusted their itineraries in order to avoid the weather.
What is the latest on Hurricane Harvey?
Irma will be the second powerful hurricane to thrash the United States and its territories in as many weeks.
Residents of Texas and Louisiana are still reeling from the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Harvey, which struck Texas as a Category 4 hurricane on August 25 and dumped several feet of rain, destroying thousands of homes and businesses.
Cruises were cancelled and re-routed away from the Port of Galveston in Houston but schedules are no longer being affected.
Most roads are now open again in Houston and the Mayor of Houston has urged visitors to continue with their trips.