The Canadian government is advising travellers to avoid certain destinations, as Hurricane Irma rips through the Caribbean on its way to Florida.
According to the most recently issued travel advisories, Canadians should avoid all travel to:
- Florida Keys
- North coast of Haiti, from the border of the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas
- The north coast of the Dominican Republic, from Cabo Engano to the northern border with Haiti, including Puerta Plata, Punta Cana, La Romana, Samaná, and Santiago
- Puerto Rico
- Sint Maarten, Saba and Saint Eustatius
- Saint Martin
- Saint-Barthélemy (St. Barts)
- US Virgin Islands
- British Virgin Islands
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- central and southeastern Bahamas, including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands
Canadians are also advised to avoid all non-essential travel to:
- Eastern and central Cuba, from the province of Matanzas eastward to Guantanamo
Hurricane Irma is a category five storm, the highest possible level, and is the most powerful storm to hit the Atlantic in recorded history.
The National Hurricane Centre in the US is describing its core as “extremely dangerous,” with “life threatening” windspeeds of 295km/h recorded.
The storm has already caused damage on several Caribbean islands, including Saint Martin, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint-Barthélemy (St. Barts).
The destruction so far includes flooding, blackouts, and collapsed buildings; it is not yet known if there has been any loss of life or injuries due to the storm.
Hurricane Irma is next predicted to strike the northern Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico later on Wednesday.
The storm is then expected to hit the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Turks and Caicos, and Cuba by Friday, and Florida by Monday.
Hurricane Irma has already led to the evacuation of thousands of people in Florida, where store shelves are emptying as people stock up and hunker down.
Travellers to the areas affected should expect massive rainfall, violent winds, flash flooding, landslides, and the abrupt closure of airports, transportation, and communications.
Hurricane Irma follows just days after Hurricane Harvey swept through Barbados, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Guyana, before devastating Texas.
Dozens of people were killed, thousands were left homeless, and hundreds of thousands of people were left without electricity, with an estimated rebuild cost of billions of dollars.