Florida Keys officials tell tourists to leave ahead of Dorian
Florida Keys officials are encouraging travelers with immediate or near-term plans to visit the Keys to postpone their plans and check with hotels and airlines to discuss any needed changes due to Hurricane Dorian. They are advising not to consider traveling to the Keys until the category 3 hurricane is well away from the area and normal tourism services resume.
Due to the potential damage from impending Hurricane Dorian, officials are anticipating interruptions to deliveries of fuel, supplies, and other goods and services to the Florida Keys from the mainland. For visitors who are already at the Keys, officials are asking them to calmly leave the island chain if they have the means to do so.
At this time, this is not a mandatory visitor evacuation, and lodging properties can remain open.
Currently, the most significant concern is potential flooding in low-lying areas in the Upper Keys including the 18-Mile Stretch of U.S. 1, officials said. Some business parking lots have had flooding issues during past tropical weather events.
Those who can’t travel out of the Keys should discuss the situation with their lodging property’s front desk to determine if the facility can safely provide accommodations as well as food, water and other basic necessities.
Visitors can also choose to find another property, even if it’s in another region of the Keys. Most major properties in the island chain have availability, according to Keys tourism officials.
According to Jon Rizzo, the warning coordination meteorologist at the Florida Keys National Weather Service, the current probabilities for tropical storm-force winds, ranging from 39 mph to 73 mph, are the following: Key Largo, 71 percent; Marathon, 61 percent and Key West, 49 percent. Current projections indicate that tropical storm-force winds may begin affecting the Upper Keys around midday Sunday.
Rizzo said the probabilities for hurricane-force winds, beginning at 74 mph, are considerably less including 19 percent for Key Largo, 13 percent for Marathon and 8 percent for Key West. Information on Keys lodging can be found at fla-keys.com/places-to-stay.
In addition, Visit Florida has partnered with Expedia on an emergency accommodations module. The website is at expedia.com/florida. However, guests should be advised that according to the National Hurricane Center, nearly the entire state of Florida has some level of risk from Dorian.
Guests who choose to stay in the Keys should be aware that weather conditions are likely to deteriorate Sunday and may remain that way through Wednesday, given the latest forecast. And there may be interruptions of power and communications, as well as normal tourism activities, including transportation.
Visitors should make decisions where to go based on their comfort levels, officials said.
The Florida Keys website at fla-keys.com will have updates regarding the status of visitor facilities after the storm is no longer a threat to Florida.