NASSAU, Bahamas, Oct. 5, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Airports throughout The Bahamas will close today as strong winds, heavy rains and dangerous storm surges begin to spread over the country ahead of Hurricane Matthew. The storm weakened slightly as it moved over Cuba Tuesday night and is now listed as a category 3 storm.
- The Department stated that as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, "all airports in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas must be closed in the interest of the safety of the travelling public".
- According to the Department of Civil Aviation airports in Exuma, Long Island, Cat Island, Eleuthera and San Salvador closed on Tuesday.
- Airports on North Eleuthera, the Berry Islands, Andros, Abaco, Grand Bahama, Bimini and New Providence will close today, Wednesday, October 5.
- Fifteen flights left the Lynden Pindling International airport before it closed at 11 a.m. and twenty-two flights were canceled.
On New Providence and Paradise Island there are over 3,000 visitors.
There are now 379 visitors throughout the Family Islands: seven visitors on Abaco; two on Eleuthera; two on North Andros; eight on the Berry Islands; 153 on Bimini, and 207 in the Exumas. Shelters have been opened on each of the islands and officials are moving to ensure that guests either evacuate or take shelter. Many low-lying areas have been evacuated.
On Grand Bahama there are 108 visitors left on the island.
As of 11 a.m. on Wednesday, October 5, the center of Hurricane Matthew was located 50 miles southeast of Duncan Town, Ragged Island.
Hurricane Matthew is moving toward the northwest at 12 miles per hour and is packing winds up to 120 miles per hour. It will move across The Bahamas throughout Thursday.
Several islands are already experiencing tropical storm winds today including Rum Cay, Exuma, San Salvador and Cat Island.
Eleuthera will experience tropical storm force winds at 1 p.m.; Andros at 4 p.m.; New Providence at 5 p.m.; Abaco at 9 p.m.; the Berry Islands at midnight; Grand Bahama at 2 a.m.Thursday morning, and Bimini at 6 a.m. Thursday morning.
Islands that are experiencing hurricane force winds include Inagua, Ragged Island, Acklins, Crooked Island and Long Island.
Exuma and Rum Cay will experience hurricane winds at 1 p.m.; Cat Island at 4 p.m.; Eleuthera at 7 p.m.; New Providence at 2 a.m. Thursday, and Abaco at 5 a.m.
Grand Bahama is not expected to get winds at this time, according to the Chief Meteorologist, Trevor Basden.
All cruise ships have now re-routed away from ports in The Bahamas to other destinations. The Port Department has advised that the Port of Nassau closed at noon on Tuesday. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force will take charge of the facility and will be responsible for its reopening.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (BMOT) is making final preparations and coordinating its efforts ahead of the storm.
In preparation for Hurricane Matthew, The BMOT has fully activated its Emergency Coordinating Committee at the British Colonial Hilton in Nassau. The committee represents a cross section of the Ministry of Tourism that includes senior management and other officers who will monitor the storm's movements.
BMOT's crisis management team is liaising with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), Nassau Airport Development Company, the Port Authority and other relevant authorities.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the archipelago as this storm moves over the Islands Of The Bahamas," Director General in the Ministry of Tourism Joy Jibrilu said. "We are praying for the best outcome and will begin assisting in the recovery efforts as soon as the all clear is given."
The BMOT is maintaining contact with all of its offices, representatives and visitors in the Family Islands as Hurricane Matthew approaches.
The Islands Of The Bahamas will be releasing updates on the tracking of Hurricane Matthew on Bahamas.com/storms but we encourage everyone to access the National Hurricane Center and the Weather Channel for latest updates.
For more information on Hurricane Matthew, and The Islands Of The Bahamas, travel professionals and consumers are advised to access the following: The National Hurricane Center at nhc.ncoaa.gov and the Weather Channel at www.weather.com.
CONTACT: Mia Weech-Lange Tel: 954-888-1069 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source:Bahamas Ministry of Tourism