travelnews: Travel Alert - Hurricane Irma

BAO news for travel administrators travelnews at
Thu Sep 7 15:49:51 PDT 2017

Alert Severity:  Critical

US - Hurricane Irma (Upd. 3) - Southeast

Environment alert for Savannah, Georgia, Fort Myers, Florida, Tallahassee, Florida, Charleston, South Carolina, Jacksonville, Florida, West Palm Beach, Florida, Macon-Warner Robins, Georgia, Naples, Florida, Tampa, Florida, Columbia, South Carolina, Augusta, Georgia, Gainesville, Florida, Miami, Florida, Brunswick-Golden Isles, Georgia, Key West, Florida, Florence, South Carolina, Destin, Florida, Pensacola, Florida, Orlando, Florida, Panama City, Florida, Albany, Georgia, Greenville, South Carolina, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Columbus, Georgia, Melbourne-Space Coast, Florida, Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida, St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Daytona Beach, Florida, Waycross, Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia (Sep 07, 2017 11:11 PM - Sep 13, 2017 12:59 AM)

Hurricane Irma remains a Category-5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 280 kph (175 mph). As of 1700 Sept. 7, the center of circulation was located approximately 65 km (40 miles) south of Grand Turk Island. Forecast models are in strong agreement that Irma will continue transiting west-northwestward toward the southern Bahamas and northern Cuba through Sept. 9. Confidence in Irma's track past Sept. 9 is still low; ensemble forecast models (known as 'spaghetti models') continue to highlight the potential for the center of the hurricane to make landfall in southeastern Florida and move northward through the Florida Peninsula, or transit closer to - or just off - the eastern coastline Sept. 10-11 as a Category-4 storm. Irma will likely continue northward and approach Georgia or South Carolina Sept. 11-12, possibly as a weaker hurricane.

Some models continue to suggest that Irma could track along the northern coast of Cuba and eventually enter the eastern Gulf of Mexico; however, the likelihood of this happening has decreased. The chances for landfall along the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana are presently low. Based on current projections, the storm should not have appreciable effects on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's (BOEM) Central or Western Gulf of Mexico planning areas.

It is still too early to determine if these projections are accurate since the path of the storm will be influenced by multiple factors, including its interaction with terrain in Hispaniola, the southern Bahamas, and possibly Cuba in the coming days. Storm tracks referenced by media are estimations based on available data, and the degree of uncertainty about landfall location increases when making longer-range projections. Since the extent of Irma's winds and rain are much larger than the forecasted track, the hurricane has the potential to affect millions of people and cause major business continuity disruptions throughout the majority of the Florida Peninsula. The following coastal watches and warnings are in effect:

  *   Event: Hurricane Irma
  *   Center of Circulation: Approximately 65 km (40 miles) south of Grand Turk Island
  *   Maximum Sustained Winds: 152 kts (280 kph, 175 mph)
  *   Landfall (Date): Close approach or landfall in Miami-Dade or Broward counties possible (Sept. 10); near Georgia/South Carolina border (Sept. 11-12)
  *   Affected Area: Southeast US (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina) (map<>)

Hurricane Watch (1700 EDT Sept. 7): Jupiter Inlet southward to Bonita Beach; Florida Keys; Lake Okeechobee; Florida Bay

  *   Storm Surge Watch (1700 EDT Sept. 7): Jupiter Inlet southward to Bonita Beach; Florida Keys

Weather Impacts
Depending on its interaction with Hispaniola and Cuba, Irma could remain a strong Category-4 storm by the time it approaches Florida. Despite stringent building codes in Florida, major damage to property and infrastructure is possible; well-built frame homes could sustain severe damage with loss of roof structure and some exterior walls, and mobile homes could be destroyed.

Even if Irma tracks offshore of the Florida Peninsula, tropical storm-force winds extend 295 km (185 miles) outward from the center of circulation, and the wind field is predicted to become larger as the system moves northward. The majority of the Florida Peninsula will likely experience tropical storm-force winds as Irma moves northward through Sept. 11.

Additionally, life-threatening storm surge will be a serious concern, as coastal areas along the Florida Strait and the Atlantic and Gulf coasts could be subject to prolonged onshore flow through multiple tide cycles. Storm surge will likely result in widespread coastal flooding and beach erosion. Rough seas will probably result in damage and destruction of marinas, docks, boardwalks, and piers. Depending on the track of Irma, the most significant storm surge will likely occur where the center of circulation makes a potential landfall and areas to the northeast. Low-lying areas in the Florida Keys and near Biscayne Bay will likely experience significant storm surge and flooding, including portions of downtown Miami. The following water levels above normal tides are possible, especially if the surge coincides with high tide:

  *   Pinellas County: Mandatory orders issued for Level A residents (including mobile home and special needs residents); voluntary orders issued for Level B and C residents
  *   St. Lucie County: Voluntary orders to begin Sept. 7

State of emergency declarations are also in effect for parts of Georgia, South and North Carolina. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has ordered the mandatory evacuation of Chatham County and areas east of I-95 starting Sept. 9. Authorities anticipate that additional evacuation orders are likely in the coming days as the storm track becomes more certain. Those who choose not the heed mandatory evacuation orders will not be ensured access to emergency services for the duration of the storm.

Hurricane Irma will cause significant ground, air, and maritime transport disruptions throughout the southeastern US Sept. 9-12.

Major airports in Florida are operating normally as of Sept. 7, but widespread delays and cancellations are expected starting Sept. 8. All commercial service at Key West International Airport (EYW) will be suspended the evening of Sept. 7, though no commercial carriers currently have flights planned for Sept. 7. American Airlines, the largest carrier at Miami International Airport (MIA), has canceled all of its flights at MIA, for Sept. 9 and 10. The carrier has also canceled all flights out of Fort Myers' Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL), Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), and Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) for those dates. Southwest Airlines (WN) will also suspend flight operations to and from FLL, RSW, and PBI from Sept. 8-10. Other carriers are likely to make similar blanket cancellations in the coming days. Depending on the track, flight disruptions will probably expand northward, including at airports serving Charleston (CHS), Columbia (CAE), Daytona Beach (DAB), Jacksonville (JAX), Orlando (MCO), Savannah (SAV), and Tampa (TPA).

US National Hurricane<>
US National Weather<>

Charleston International<>
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Laurie Jacoby, CTC
Travel Manager
Business Affairs Office
University of Oregon
lajacoby at<mailto:lajacoby at>
541-346-3158 - Voice

University of Oregon Travel Fair
Thurs. Oct. 26th  ** 9 am - 12:30 pm
EMU Ballroom

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