Hurricane Earl is currently barreling toward the East Coast — just in time to derail the Labor Day weekend plans of travelers heading to the region. For those of you wondering whether the storm will affect your upcoming vacation, we’ve answered five key questions about Earl.
1. What is Hurricane Earl?
Hurricane Earl is a powerful storm that caused damage on several islands as it tore through the Eastern Caribbean earlier this week. It’s now moving toward the East Coast of the U.S. Evacuations have been ordered for North Carolina’s Ocracoke Island, and more evacuations along the East Coast could follow within the next few days. The coasts of North Carolina and Virginia are on high alert.
2. Will Hurricane Earl affect my Labor Day travel plans?
The National Hurricane Center reports that the outer bands of Earl could reach the North Carolina coast by Friday morning before the storm heads to the New England coast as early as Saturday morning. Although Earl is expected to stay offshore, it still might cause a ruckus for vacationers along the Atlantic. According to the New York Times, “Forecasters said that even if it fails to hit the Atlantic coast directly, the storm could still cause trouble up and down the Eastern Seaboard, generating large waves and hazardous riptides that prompt beach closures and force vacationers to stay away from the ocean during the final week of summer vacation.” Expect lots of rain, strong winds, rough waves and dangerous riptides on East Coast beaches this weekend.
3. Will Hurricane Earl affect my upcoming cruise?
Our sister site, Cruise Critic, has reported numerous cruise itinerary changes for ships sailing in the Caribbean and along the East Coast. Cruise lines that have announced altered itineraries include Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean and NCL. Get the full list of affected cruises in Cruise Critic’s Hurricane Zone.
4. Will Hurricane Earl cause flight delays?
Although it’s still too early to predict exactly how bad the weather will get on the Eastern Seaboard in the next few days, it is possible that Earl may cause some flight delays in the region, including at airports around New York City and in New England.
5. What should I do to prepare?
If you are traveling to coastal areas between North Carolina and Maine, it’s important to keep an eye on the weather. Many local tourism Web sites, like visitnc.com, post weather advisories for travelers coming to the area when there’s something significant like a hurricane happening — so you’ll want to periodically check the site for your destination to see if an advisory is posted. You can also monitor the progress of Earl and check storm warnings on the National Hurricane Center Web site.
Flying this weekend? Get tips for dealing with delayed flights in Airport Delays: Six Ways to Cope. Airline Web sites and call centers are not always the best sources of information for travelers looking to see if their flights are delayed (the airlines are slow to release this information). Instead, try FlightStats.com, which has an excellent Flight Tracker tool.
If you’ve already purchased travel insurance, read the fine print to see whether you will be covered if your flight is delayed or you have other issues getting to your destination. However, if you haven’t purchased travel insurance already, don’t bother doing so at the last minute. You won’t be covered now that the storm has formed. Read more about travel insurance here.
If you decide to change your plans to avoid traveling this weekend, check with your airline to see whether you may do so without penalty. For instance, both AirTran and Continental are currently waiving change fees for travelers flying to, from or through airports that may be affected by Earl.
Are you concerned that Earl will affect your Labor Day travel plans? Tell us about it!