Good afternoon, everyone! I waited until a bit later to post today because I wanted to get the midday update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in order to get you all the most up to date information on that pesky Fiona who is currently rolling towards us from the east with some decently sized winds and rainfall. Once again, there is no reason to panic!!! But, if you have travel plans into or out of the territory this weekend, they WILL need to be adjusted.
The 11AM report from NHC states that Tropical Storm conditions can be expected in the Virgin Islands throughout the day tomorrow and in Puerto Rico tomorrow night and into Sunday. Fiona has lost some of her momentum, become a bit more scattered and taken a more southern track. And all of this IS GREAT NEWS for St. John. However, sea conditions are building and rain is expected to continue throughout the rest of today and through most of tomorrow. Some more good news is that Fiona is now not expected to reach Hurricane strength until sometime on Sunday night or Monday. At which point she will be well past us.
What to expect if you are on St. John this weekend:
- RAIN! Lots of it continuously. Remember when I told you to bring your rain gear during this time of year? 🙂
- Currently, winds are 20-22 MPH with gusts up to 37 MPH. Over the course of the next 24 hours, if the predictions are correct, we could see winds between 40 and 60MPH, depending on which side of the storm passes us.
- The ONLY thing that is predictable about tropical storms is their unpredictability. Once she hits the warm waters of the Caribbean, she could strengthen. She could also take a hard turn to the north (Remember when Dorian was on a similar track and took a hard right, hitting St. John as a CAT 1?). Best practice is to stock up on food and drinks, make sure your accommodations have their hurricane shutters in place and hunker down for tonight and tomorrow while she passes us by.
I’m going to address the travel advisories first for those of you who are on St. John this week and trying to board a flight out of St. Thomas tomorrow or Sunday. You will need to leave St. John TODAY if you plan to fly on Saturday or Sunday.
The US Coast Guard issued the port condition Yankee at 8AM this morning and Zulu is scheduled for 8PM this evening. Once that happens, all seaports in the territory will be closed to commercial and passenger traffic. Meaning, the ferries will stop service between St. Thomas and St. John this evening at 8PM. After the storm, the Coast Guard will have to do their mandatory inspections of the ports in order for them to re-open so it will remain unclear as to when the ferries will begin service again. It will all depend on the level of damage, if any, that the ports and ferries receive from Fiona. So, if you are planning to fly tomorrow or Sunday, get on the boat and find accommodations on St. Thomas for the evening.
Ferry service between St. Thomas and St. Croix is not operating today and will not begin service again until September 21. Ferry service between the BVI and USVI is also currently halted. If you are in the BVI and need to get to St. Thomas at any point this weekend, contact your accommodations manager to arrange for a BVI based water taxi service to do so today.
Additionally, disruptions to flight traffic will remain unclear until the storm passes. The VI Port Authority issued a statement yesterday, stating that the airports on St. Thomas and St. Croix will be open on Friday, September 16 but made no mention of tomorrow. If you have a flight scheduled out of St. Thomas tomorrow or Sunday, call your airline to find out what your rescheduling options may be. Delta has already issued a statement for travelers flying into or through St. Croix, St. Thomas, San Juan and St. Marteen tomorrow.
Tropical Storm Fiona in the Caribbean Islands may impact travel to/from/through the destination(s) listed below. Check flight status frequently for up-to-the-minute information about your flight plans- Delta.com
Silver Airlines has also issued a notice that they will be waiving change fees from September 16-19. United and American Airlines have released similar policy changes for this weekend in the USVI and Puerto Rico.
If you have flexibility on your travel dates, check around for adding additional nights to your current lodging situation and adjust your flights for later next week to avoid the chaos that will likely be the St. Thomas airport on Sunday and Monday if all flights are canceled tomorrow.
If you are planning travel INTO St. Thomas this weekend with the intent to stay on St. John, please be advised that you may not be able to get on a ferry tomorrow or Sunday even if your flight arrives as scheduled. If this happens, you can either utilize a private water taxi service (try Love City Excursions or Sunshine Daydream) or check around on St. Thomas for a few night’s accommodations.
Alright all…Time to batten down the hatches for the weekend. Do not panic! Do not freak out! We have seen worse than this storm before… To all of you who are on St. John or traveling to or from the territory this weekend, stay safe, keep an eye on the radars, watches and warnings and, once Fiona has passed us by, get out and play in the rain 🙂