What's Up With...The Wild Wild(Fire) West?

While Texas recovers from Hurricane Harvey damage, and Florida and the Caribbean braces for Hurricane Irma, the western states, from Montana to the Pacific, are burning. Raging wildfires are burning throughout Montana, Washington, Oregon, and California.  Smoke is being seen and felt hundreds of miles away (reports in central CA, NV, CO, and even IA and IL).

The wildfires in Los Angeles, CA are the worst in history but now 80% contained.  Wildfires in Oregon are ravaging the Columbia Gorge and threatening Multnomah Falls Lodge.  The Sperry Chalet – a 1914 hotel and dining room in Glacier National Park in Montana only accessible by trail - unfortunately fell victim to the Sprague fire. 2,700 year old sequoias in Sierra National Forest were under threat earlier this week.

80 fires have burned down 1.5 million acres across 9 states since August 28, 2017. Here is a breakdown of total acres burned and locations via National Interagency Fire Center.

Up to date information on Eagle Creek FireColumbia River Gorge, Oregon (into Washington).
 

Up to date information on La Tuna FireLos Angeles, CA.

Colorado is the latest state to suffer from fires – the Deep Creek Fire started Monday, while the Big Red Fire continues to burn just south of the Colorado-Wyoming state line (started earlier this month).

What This Means For Travel: Air quality in Washington State, Western Oregon (including Portland), Northern California, Montana, Nevada, Los Angeles, CA, and parts of the 9 states listed above -- is reportedly very poor.  Many areas have also called for mandatory and voluntary evacuations.  Continue to check reports and practice caution when traveling to a location near an active fire, or reportedly has poor air quality.

What’s Up With…Hurricane Irma?

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As the U.S. is still reeling with the impacts of devastating Hurricane Harvey, and the West suffers from the worst wildfires in history, the Atlantic region is gearing up for Hurricane Irma -- the strongest storm on record in the Atlantic.  The storm made landfall in the Caribbean last night, and is on a path to Southern Florida. We’ll continue to update information as it’s available, but in case you’re wondering how these events might impact your travel, we’ve got you covered.

Updated as of Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - Washington Post is keeping this post up to date.

Status: Yesterday, Irma was upgraded to a Category 5. Winds are reportedly upwards of 185 MPH. The storm made landfall last night in Antigua and Barbuda and is expected to continue a course through Puerto Rico, into Southern Florida by Sunday or Monday morning.  Predictions beyond 5 days are not reliable, so future pathways are largely unknown.

Will I Be Impacted? A state of emergency has been declared for Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the entire state of Florida.  Florida Keys are calling for mandatory evacuations effective today, and Miami-Dade County has also begun evacuating individuals with special needs out of caution. The Mayor is urging residents to stock up on essentials.

While Harvey dumped unprecedented amounts of rain, the concern in Florida is storm surge.  So, even if the storm passes quickly, low lying areas and ground floor buildings are still very much at risk of flooding.

Where Will Irma Hit? Landfall in Southern Florida is expected by Saturday morning. From there, Irma’s route is unknown. The storm is currently predicted to veer north up the Atlantic coast, although models show potential up the peninsula, or into the Gulf of Mexico. Impacts are expected to be felt up to 200 miles out.

What About My Travel Plans? Plan to cancel if you’re scheduled to visit the Caribbean, the Keys, or Miami County. Rest of Florida is still up in the air, since Irma’s pathway is still very unclear.  Remain on watch if your plans involve Florida in general, as well as areas along the Gulf coastline or up the Atlantic coast.  Be prepared for flight delays, cancellations, or diversions. If you’re a road warrior, stay out of potentially impacted regions as not to clog up the roads for evacuees and first responders.

Check this list for Airline and Cruiseline cancellations and waived change fees.

As long as you purchased trip insurance, any incurred costs from a change of plans should be covered. Be sure to check your policy.