That last bit of summer vacation is likely to be less relaxing than anticipated for travelers spending Labor Day weekend along the Southeast coast of the US and in the northern Bahamas.
Hurricane Dorian is expected to strike Grand Bahama, the northernmost island in the archipelago, late Sunday or early Monday before moving closer to the US coast, forecasters say.
Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis called for residents in the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama to head for shelters.
An advisory on the Abaco Beach Resort website reads: “Storm Dorian is currently expected to pass in the vicinity of the Abacos starting late Friday through Sunday. Guests staying at the resort during this period may experience periods of high winds, rain and limited resort amenities and services.”
Pelican Beach Villas, also in the Abaco Islands, told CNN via email that they currently have no guests on site and are closed for the storm. “Pelican Beach Villas is right in the water’s edge, so we could not accommodate any guests,” wrote General Manager Alan Hamilton.
Dorian may hit the Southeast coast
Florida may be spared the worst of the storm after all, although the Sunshine State still faces dangerous conditions in the coming days. Even if the storm doesn’t make landfall in Florida, its proximity to the coast could cause substantial damage.
Meanwhile, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina are now on high alert for possible landfall later in the week.
Hurricane Dorian’s shifting path means abrupt changes for people traveling this holiday weekend. While the forecast looks better than anticipated in some places, in others, it has led to both immediate emergency evacuations and increased caution.
“High surf and very dangerous rip currents are expected all along the East Coast from Florida up through the Carolinas through the weekend,” said CNN Senior Meteorologist Dave Hennen.
Cumberland Island National Seashore, on the largest barrier island off the Georgia coast, closed to the public on Saturday. Fort Frederica National Monument, located on nearby St. Simons Island, also closed on Saturday, according to a National Park Service press release.
The National Park Service noted a high risk for dangerous rip currents along Cumberland Island National Seashore beaches.
Both parks will remain closed until after the storm passes and the areas are deemed safe.
Flights and trains are being canceled
As of Sunday morning, airlines had canceled over 250 Sunday flights to/from/within the United States and about 350 flights on Monday, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.com.
Airlines have been issuing waivers for several days to travelers headed for destinations in the storm’s projected path.
More destinations in Georgia and the Carolinas are likely to be added to airline advisories as the storm progresses northward.
Orlando International Airport will cease operations at 2 a.m. Monday local time, according to an official statement from the airport.
Amtrak canceled select Southeast service starting on Friday. Full details of which routes are affected are available online.
Cruise ships are changing itineraries
The storm’s proximity to the Bahamas has prompted cruise lines to modify some of their itineraries by shortening or lengthening cruises and rerouting to different ports of call.
Aubrey Manzo Dunn, a spokeswoman at Cruise Critic, says 45 cruise sailings have been affected across seven lines: Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line and MSC.
Based on double occupancy, these cruise changes could impact nearly 135K travelers, Dunn estimates.
On its website, Carnival Cruise Line listed a series of sailings that it is monitoring or modifying out of Port Canaveral, Port of Miami, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa in Florida and in Charleston, South Carolina. The advisory outlines how passengers can sign up for text alerts for more information.
Disney Cruise Line posted an operations advisory on its website. While the August 31 Disney Fantasy sailing was expected to proceed as planned, Disney Dream’s scheduled September 2 sailing will depart on September 4 with a shortened, two-night itinerary. Full details for re-booking and refunds are available online.
Norwegian Cruise Line has listed several modifications online to upcoming sailings on Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Sun. For the most up-to-date cruise information, travelers can visit Cruise Critic‘s homepage.
Amusement parks and other attractions are on alert
In Orlando, about 50 miles inland from Florida’s Atlantic coast, Walt Disney World was operating under normal conditions Saturday, but Disney planned to close Blizzard Beach water park on Sunday, according to an online statement.
Universal Orlando Resort was also monitoring the situation, the company said.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, one of Central Florida’s most popular tourist destinations, was expected to be closed Sunday and Monday because of the storm. The center moved its $650 million Mobile Launch Platform inside on Friday.
Hilton Head Island remains open for business
In South Carolina, Hilton Head Island’s town manager, Steve Riley, isn’t expecting anything dramatic weather-wise over the next few days. It rained off and on Saturday with similar weather predicted for Sunday, but that was already in the forecast before Dorian changed course, Riley said.
The island, located about 35 miles from Savannah, Georgia, is hosting about 30,000 visitors for Labor Day weekend, with hotel occupancy near 90%, Riley estimated. Holiday weekend visitors are unlikely to see much impact from the hurricane.
Rougher surf is likely to be the most noticeable effect until later in the week, Riley said. Shore Beach Service and the hotels are cautioning people about rougher surf, “but nothing too bad at this point.”
“At this point, we’re too early to be suggesting that people bug out. If you’re just here for the holiday weekend, the holiday weekend’s going to be fine,” Riley said.