As Hurricane Dorian bears down on the mainland US, those hoping to get away to Florida for the last final stretch of the summer holidays will be wondering if it is safe to do so.
The storm is already classed as a Category 2 hurricane, and has seen wind speeds of up to 125 mph knocking out power in Barbados and Puerto Rico.
It's expected to strengthen before it hits Florida, and is expected to make landfall along the southeast coast early on Monday 2 September.
That coincides with Labour Day, a national holiday in the US, which is sure to cause even more disruption than a "major" hurricane normally would.
Is it safe to travel to Florida?
If you have plans to head out to Florida over the weekend, it may be worth reevaluating them.
The US National Hurricane Centre predicts the storm could reach Category 3 in strength before making landfall.
That means those in the storm’s path could see sustained winds of 111–129 mph; flooding, loss of power and structural damage to buildings are all likely.
"Rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods," say the National Hurricane Centre, while "swells are likely to begin affecting the east-facing shores of the Bahamas and the southeastern United States coast during the next few days."
“These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”
They also advise that travellers “follow instructions issued by the local authorities, including any evacuation orders.”
The National Hurricane Centre's 5-day track and intensity forecast cone for Dorian (Image: National Hurricane Centre)
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency ahead of the hurricane and urged all residents to make sure they have sufficient supplies.
“Every Florida resident should have seven days of supplies, including food, water and medicine, and should have a plan in case of disaster," he said.
“By having an Executive Order in place and by activating the State Emergency Operations Centre to a Level 2, we are fully prepared to support any community that might be impacted."
Can I change my travel plans?
Thankfully, most airlines are being flexible in the run-up to Hurricane Dorian.
“Due to the adverse weather conditions expected in Orlando this weekend (Sat 31 August-Sun 1 September), Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays are offering customers the opportunity to move their flights to an alternative date on or before 7 September.”
“If you are due to travel with British Airways to or from Nassau or Providenciales on Friday 30 or Saturday 31 August but no longer wish to travel, you are able to change your booking free of charge and travel on a later date up to and including Monday 7 September.
“If you are due to travel with British Airways to or from Miami, Orlando, Tampa or Fort Lauderdale on Monday 2 September or Tuesday 3 September but no longer wish to travel, you are able to change your booking free of charge and travel on a later date up to and including Sunday 6 September.
"If you booked directly with British Airways please contact us to make these changes, otherwise contact your travel agent.”
Passengers flying with other airlines should check the relevant website for further information well before travelling.
Some US airlines like American Airlines and Delta are waiving change fees for flights to, from and through the Caribbean reports USA Today, with most also issuing refunds for cancelled flights.
You’re advised to check all your travel arrangements ahead of your trip, to ensure you have as smooth a journey as possible.
Cruise lines sailing from Port Canaveral have also begun to modify their itineraries to avoid Hurricane Dorian, including the Disney Cruise Line, which has changed its itinerary for the Disney Fantasy cruise from an eastern Caribbean to a western Caribbean route.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, inews