Bahamas and Florida Brace for Hurricane Dorian, Caribbean Spared

Hurricane Dorian
Hurricane Dorian became a dangerous Category 4 storm on Friday. (Image by Michelle Maria, Pixabay)

All eyes are on Hurricane Dorian, which is expected to be a Category 4 hurricane with catastrophic winds of 140 mph when it arrives in the area of the Northwest Bahamas, then turn north and brush the Florida coast, bringing dangerous winds and storm surges late Monday and early Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for the counties in the path of the storm, then widened it to include the entire state. With the shift in direction as of Saturday morning, just the east coast from Fort Lauderdale up to Cape Canaveral and inland to Orlando remain within the potential path. Flooding and storm surges are expected because of the slow movement of the storm.

Evacuations began Friday in parts of Grand Bahama Island, where Freeport is located, according to the Nassau Guardian. All hotels and resorts throughout the Northwest Bahamas activated their hurricane response programs and the port of Freeport and Grand Bahama International Airport were both closed by Friday night.

The storm slammed the U.S. Virgin Islands Wednesday with wind gusts of up to 100 mph, causing power outages on all three islands. Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria two years ago, was spared, as were Barbados, Saint Lucia, and the Eastern Caribbean islands. “Thankfully, there was little negative impact from the storm. Airports, which were closed as required when sustained winds reach 40 knots, are reopened,” said Frank Comito, CEO and director general of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), in a statement.

News from the cruise lines continues to stream in, as lines including Disney and Carnival relocate ships away from the storm’s path. Royal Caribbean has closed its Bahamas private beach resort, CocoCay, through September 4.

Two hotel companies so far—Rosen Hotels & Resorts and South Beach Group Hotels—have introduced special distress rates for those affected by the storm. Rosen Hotels & Resorts is providing lowered distress rates at its eight hotels in the Orlando area and South Beach Group Hotels is offering a 25 percent discount.

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Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. She is also on the board of ECPAT USA, the human trafficking organization. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.

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