A Weakened Tomas Heads for Jamaica; U.S. Issues Alert for Haiti

November 3, 2010
(Update, 3:10 p.m. EDT, November 3: According to the NHC's 2 p.m. EDT update, the hurricane watch in Jamaica has been downgraded to a tropical storm watch. Tomas is currently located about 315 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and 245 miles south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. Maximum sustained winds remain at 35 miles per hour, but the center of the storm is beginning to reform farther Northeast.

(9:05 a.m. EDT) -- Tomas has once again been downgraded, and is now a tropical depression. However, it is expected to regain strength within the next 48 hours as barrels for Jamaica and then Haiti.

Jamaica is now under a hurricane watch, and the U.S. Department of State has issued a travel alert for Haiti, home to Royal Caribbean's private island of Labadee. Additionally, the port of St. Lucia has been closed to cruise traffic until November 7 due to storm damage.

According to the National Hurricane Center's 8 a.m. EDT update, Tomas is currently located about 410 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and 305 miles south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. Maximum sustained winds are 35 miles per hour. The storm is moving toward the west-northwest at 5 m.p.h.

Citing the NHC report, the State Department has issued a travel alert for Haiti, which could begin experiencing the effects of the storm by Thursday.

The alert says, "Even storms that do not reach hurricane strength have caused widespread damage and loss of life in Haiti in recent years. U.S. citizens who nevertheless plan travel to Haiti should defer travel until Tropical Storm Tomas has passed."

Those who choose to travel to Haiti despite the alert are encouraged to register their itinerary on the State Department's Web site. A travel warning that was issued as a result of the devastating earthquake Haiti experienced last December is also still in effect.

More than a million people remain in tent camps in the capital of Port-au-Prince and the country is now grappling with a cholera epidemic.

Several Southern Caribbean islands were battered over the weekend by Tomas, the 12th named hurricane of the Atlantic season. There have been widespread media reports of injuries, fatalities, downed power lines and damage to homes on Barbados, St. Vincent and St. Lucia. MSNBC is reporting that in St. Lucia, "at least 14 people were killed and seven others were missing after the storm caused an estimated $37 million in damage." Island correspondents on StormCarib, a Web site that relays storm information, also report significant damage, including missing roofs, unmoored boats and blocked roads.

St. Lucia's tourism board posted a statement on Tuesday, which noted that cruise ships will resume calls to the island on November 7. The statement added that "the country and its vital tourism industry will be back to normalcy by Friday November 12, at which time the island will be in a position to welcome all visitors...."

Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes

Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess, which was scheduled to visit St. Lucia on Thursday, will no longer be able to call there. Representatives from the line have yet to respond to multiple requests for an update; however, Cruise Critic member snrlnd, who's currently aboard the ship, reports that passengers have been told that they will be visiting St. Kitts instead.

Silversea Cruises' Silver Spirit, which was scheduled to visit St. Lucia on Friday, will call in Roseau, Dominica.

Carnival Miracle, which was scheduled to dock in St. Lucia on Saturday and St. Kitts on Sunday, instead spent the weekend at sea. To compensate, it stopped in Grand Turk on Monday and Nassau on Tuesday. Carnival Victory, which was scheduled to stop in St. Lucia on Thursday, November 4, will now spend the day at sea.

Freedom of the Seas replaced yesterday's sea day with a visit to CocoCay, and instead of calling in Labadee today the ship will remain at sea.

Serenade of the Seas departed from San Juan for a Southern Caribbean cruise on Sunday, and rather than calling on Curacao, Aruba and Dominica, the ship will now visit Barbados, Antigua, St. Maarten and St. Thomas.

P&O's Ventura will skip its scheduled call in St. Lucia tomorrow, and will instead call in Dominica.

Celebrity Millenium will no longer call on St. Lucia on Friday, November 5, but will instead visit Martinique.

We'll keep you posted on any other changes. Weather Outlook: Possible Affected Ships & Ports

The government of Jamaica has issued a tropical storm watch for the island. In addition, the NHC suggests that Tomas could pose a "significant threat" to Haiti, Southeastern Cuba, Turks and Caicos and the Dominican Republic later in the week.

--by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Web Content Producer