Earthquake, Storms Prompt Travel Changes; Hurricane Forming

(Photo by the National Hurricane Center)

No damage has been reported following an earthquake off Puerto Rico, and Tropical Storm Karen is set to hit the island, as well as the Virgin Islands, sometime Tuesday. Meanwhile, a storm in the Atlantic is expected to strengthen into a hurricane late Tuesday, and Tropical Storm Jerry is expected to hit Bermuda on Wednesday. 

According to the National Weather Service, an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.3 struck 44 miles north of Puerto Rico at 11:24 p.m. AST, followed by a series of three aftershocks. There is no threat of a tsunami, and Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced announced on her official Twitter account that there was no damage from the tremor. 

The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center has Tropical Storm Karen, which now has maximum sustained winds near 40mph, passing near or over Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Tuesday before moving over the western Atlantic Tuesday night and into Wednesday. The storm is expected to strengthen over the next 48 hours, and tropical storm warnings have been issued for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, as well as Puerto Rico, including Vieques and Culebra


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A tropical storm warning also remains in effect for Bermuda as Tropical Storm Jerry is expected to pass near the island on Wednesday. Maximum sustained winds are currently near 60 mph, and the storm is expected to weaken gradually over the next few days. 

Finally, Tropical Storm Lorenzo, which is approximately 310 miles southwest of the southernmost Cabo Verde Islands, is forecast to become a hurricane late Tuesday. What’s more, it could strengthen into a major hurricane on Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center forecast. 

Cruise Itinerary Changes

The storms have prompted a number of cruise lines to alter their itineraries. 

A spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Line tells Travel Agent that, due to Tropical Storm Karen, St. Thomas closed for commercial operations on Monday. As a result, the Carnival Fascination’s itinerary has been revised, replacing Monday’s planned call at St. Thomas with a call at St. Maarten. Instead of calling at St. Maarten Tuesday, the ship will call at St. Kitts. Wednesday, instead of calling at St. Kitts, it will call at Dominica

Royal Caribbean has modified the September 21 sailing on Symphony of the Seas, which will sail to Cozumel on Wednesday. Anthem of the Seas will still sail to Bermuda as scheduled.

Flight Change Waivers

A number of airlines have issued flight change waivers due to the storms. 

American Airlines customers scheduled to travel through San Juan, St. Croix or St. Thomas through September 25 can rebook for travel through September 28 between the same city pair in the same cabin (or pay the difference). Customers set to fly September 24 or 25 through Bermuda can also rebook through September 27. 

United Airlines is allowing customers set to fly through San Juan through September 25 can rebook through September 28 in the originally ticketed cabin between the original city pair. 

Delta is allowing customers scheduled to fly through Bermuda through September 24 to rebook through September 27, and customers scheduled to fly through San Juan and St. Thomas through September 25 to rebook through September 28. 

JetBlue is allowing customers scheduled to fly through Bermuda September 24 or 25 to rebook through September 27. Customers scheduled to fly through San Juan, Puerto Rico, and St. Thomas through September 25 can rebook through September 28, and those flying through Aguadilla and Ponce, Puerto Rico, through September 24 can rebook through September 27.  

Southwest Airlines is allowing customers scheduled to fly through San Juan through September 25 to rebook in the original class of service or travel standby within two weeks of their original date of travel between the original city pair. 

Frontier Airlines customers traveling through San Juan through September 25 can rebook through October 11. 

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