As forecasters issue hurricane and storm-surge watches for parts of Florida, airlines and cruiselines are making it easier for U.S. travelers to troubleshoot their plans and stay out of Hurricane Irma's way.
The latest advisories from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center predict that the "potentially catastrophic" Category 5 storm will move over Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas by late Thursday.
"Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days," according to the advisory.
A long list of areas are under hurricane warnings, including parts of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Bahamas; areas under a hurricane watch now include the Florida Keys and other areas of Florida. The agency also issued a storm surge watch for the Florida Keys and areas of the Florida peninsula south of Jupiter Inlet and Bonita Beach.
"Interests elsewhere in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as well as Cuba and Florida should monitor the progress of Irma," the advisory notes.
(In August, NOAA raised its tropical storm and hurricane forecast for this year, predicting an "extremely active season." It expects 14 to 19 named storms, including five to nine hurricanes and two to five major hurricanes. Irma is the ninth named storm of the season and the fourth hurricane. The center is also currently tracking the 10th and 11th named storms — Hurricane José and Hurricane Katia.)