Tropical Storm Dorian heading for Caribbean; airlines waive change fees

TORONTO — Tropical Storm Dorian is gathering strength and could turn into a small hurricane, says forecasters.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for St. Lucia and a tropical storm warning for Barbados, Martinique, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It also issued a tropical storm watch for Dominica, Grenada, Saba and St. Eustatius. The storm was expected to dump between 3 to 8 inches (8 to 20 centimetres) of rain in Barbados and nearby islands, with isolated amounts of 10 inches (25 centimetres).

Air Canada has waived change fees for flights into Bridgetown, Barbados for Aug. 26 and Aug. 27.

WestJet’s flexible rebooking options are valid for Bridgetown, for travel Aug. 26, as well as Samana, Puerto Plata and Punta Cana, for travel leading up to Aug. 29.

Caribbean Airlines announced the cancellation of several Aug. 26 flights, including BW448, BW449, BW455, BW454 and BW459. Caribbean Airlines passengers holding confirmed tickets for travel Aug. 26 – 28 can rebook without change fees, subject to certain conditions. More details are at caribbean-airlines.com.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley closed schools and government offices across Barbados as she warned people to remain indoors. “When you’re dead, you’re dead,” she said in a televised address late Sunday. “Stay inside and get some rest.”

As of 11 a.m. EDT Monday, the fourth tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season was centred about 220 kilometres east-southeast of Barbados and moving west at 22 kph. Maximum sustained winds were at 85 kph.

Forecasters said it could brush past southwest Puerto Rico late Wednesday as a Category 1 hurricane and then strike the southeast corner of the D.R. early Thursday.

In the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, hundreds of people have been crowding into grocery stores and gas stations to prepare for Dorian, buying food, water and generators, among other things. Many are worried about power outages and heavy rains on an island still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria in 2017. Some 30,000 homes still have blue tarps as roofs and the electrical grid remains fragile and prone to outages even during brief rain showers.

The CTO has announced that its Sustainable Tourism Conference, scheduled for this week in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, will proceed however the conference will now begin on Aug. 28 instead of Aug. 27.

 

With file from The Associated Press