Updated September 7, 2017 at 2:30 pm EST
Per the 2 pm advisory, Irma has slightly weakened to 175 mph winds. Even with a slight weakening in the winds, the storm is a very potent Category 5. Irma has now taken a WNW path at 16 mph. The eye of the storm is located 65 miles NNE of the Dominican Republic.
The southern part of the state of Florida should start experiencing the effects of the storm by tomorrow evening. Landfall will most likely occur in Florida around Sunday morning as a Category 4 Hurricane. It appears that Orlando will experience effects of the storm including hurricane force winds and heavy rain. However, the path of the storm can still change this far out.
To keep up-to-date with all of the closures and cancellations at Disney World from the storm, please CLICK HERE.
Updated September 5, 2017 at 1:55 pm EST
We have just confirmed that Disney will be waving penalties in association with cancelling your Walt Disney World vacation since the state of Florida is under a state of emergency.
As of the 2 pm advisory, Irma is now packing sustained winds of 185 miles per hour. It is still heading west at 14 mph.
If you have a reservation to Disney World planned for the next week or so, I recommend calling Disney or your Travel Agent if you are interested in cancelling your reservation or rescheduling it for a later date.
Keep following along for updates. We will be updating this article at least once a day with the latest Hurricane Irma news. If you have a Disney Cruise planned around this time, please follow along HERE with the latest updates from Disney Cruise Line.
Updated September 5, 2017 at 11:30 am EST
The latest advisory on Hurricane Irma has been issued and I wish I had better news to share. However, the storm has intensified to a Category 5 Hurricane with 180 mph sustained winds making it the most powerful storm ever reordered in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm is currently positioned east of the Leeward Islands and moving west at 14 mph. It is anticipated to start making more of a WNW jog within the next few days. Hurricane/Tropical Storm watches have been issued for several islands in the Caribbean including Puerto Rico. There have been no watches or warnings issued for the United States at this time.
Governor Scott has issued a state of emergency for the state of Florida. A state of emergency is typically issued as a storm approaches as this make it easier for state government officials to request aide from the federal government once the storm is underway.
While it’s still too early to tell exactly where the tropical system will make landfall, it does look at this point Orlando will feel at least some of the effects of the storm starting this weekend. Whether that will be hurricane force winds, tropical storm winds, or just some wind and rain… only time will tell.
Disney World has not issued an official statement on the storm but it is important to read over their Hurricane Policy if you have plans to visit in the next week or so. Usually, only a full refund is given if a warning is issued. As a Travel Agent, I would also advise to keep checking with your airline if you have plans to fly to Orlando. To my knowledge, no flights have been cancelled at this time due to the impending storm but that can change at any time.
Keep following along for updates. We will be updating this article at least once a day with the latest Hurricane Irma. If you have a Disney Cruise planned around this time, please follow along HERE with the latest updates from Disney Cruise Line.
The internet is all abuzz with talks of Hurricane Irma especially for guests that have a Walt Disney World or Disney Cruise Vacation planned within the next few weeks. And, rightfully so. As a Travel Agent, I have also received plenty of phone calls from clients worried about the impending storm. The impact of hurricanes is very fresh on all of our minds. Millions of people are continuing to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey that hit parts of Texas and Louisiana the last few weeks.
The main question everyone has right now is, “Where is Hurricane Irma going to make landfall?” Unfortunately, I wish I was here to give you that answer but it’s just too early to tell. However, I can relay to you the current information about the storm and it’s current projected path. I also have information on what to do if you currently have a Walt Disney World vacation booked for the next few weeks. It’s very important to keep in mind that projected paths change all the time this early into the stage of tracking a tropical system.
Per the 11 am EST hurricane advisory, Hurricane Irma’a current top wind speed is 120 mph making it a Category 3 hurricane on a scale from 1 to 5. The eye of the storm is currently positioned 560 miles east of the Leeward Islands. It is anticipated to intensify to a Category 4 hurricane later in the day as it approaches the islands of Antigua and Barbuda. From there, it is projected to make a pass over Puerto Rico and the island of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti) during the later part of this week.
Models have the storm getting close to the United States and Florida as we get closer to next weekend. As of right now, some models bring the eye of the storm through the Florida Keys while others have the storm taking a sharp turn to the north as the eye gets closer to the Florida region. As I mentioned, so much can happen between now and net weekend, it’s still too early to tell if or when the eye will make landfall in Florida or even the United States.
So what if you do have a visit to Disney World planned for next weekend or the week after? First thing I recommend is not to panic at this time and just keep up-to-date on the weather. Secondly, keep in mind Disney World does have an official hurricane policy in place. Straight from the Disney website:
If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area—or for your place of residence—within 7 days of your scheduled arrival date, you may call in advance to reschedule or cancel your Walt Disney Travel Company Magic Your Way vacation package and most room only reservations (booked directly with Disney) without any cancellation or change fees imposed by Disney. If you have products and services provided by third-party suppliers included in your vacation—such as airlines, hotels, car rental agencies or vacation insurance companies—you will continue to be responsible for any non-refundable payments, as well as cancellation or change fees assessed by those suppliers. The policy does not apply to certain special events or dining experiences. To read Disney’s complete Hurricane Policy, please CLICK HERE.
After reading the statement above, it is important to know the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning as they are two different things. A hurricane watch is issued when hurricane conditions are expected within 48 hours and a hurricane warning is issued with hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours. Also to keep in mind about the above statement, this does not apply to Advanced Dining Reservations and special events such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
While it is rare for a hurricane to make a direct hit on the Orlando area, hurricanes have definitely made their impact in the area in the past. Disney has several measures in place to ensure the safety of all guests on property any time severe weather is anticipated. Last year, the parks did close as a precaution when Hurricane Matthew was threatening to hit the area. Guests at some resorts were also advised to stay in their rooms and extra food was brought to common areas at resorts for guests to “stock up.” Some resorts even offered movies and character interactions when the parks were closed. While tracking hurricanes comes with much uncertainty, you can be certain that Disney will be prepared!
I am obviously not a professional meteorologist but I was born and raised in South Florida and rode out countless storms in my lifetime. With several clients traveling to Orlando the next few weeks, I am going to continue to track this storm and keep all of our Chip & Co readers up-to-date. The best advice I can give is to keep following the weather updates and make the best decision for you and your family to make any changes to travel as needed. As anyone who has experience a hurricane before, “Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best!” I have personally advised my clients not to make any changes to their plans as of yet but to maybe start looking at alternative dates in the future if they are extremely concerned. We should have a better understanding as to where the storm is headed as the week progresses.
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Image Credit: The Weather Channel