Canada Issues Travel Warnings as Hurricane Beryl Approaches Jamaica

Canada Issues Travel Warnings as Hurricane Beryl Approaches Jamaica
This image provided by NASA shows Hurricane Beryl from the International Space Station on July 1, 2024. (The Canadian Press/AP-HO, NASA)
Jennifer Cowan

Canadians are being warned against non-essential travel to Jamaica and several other countries in the region as Hurricane Beryl tracks across the Caribbean Sea throughout the rest of the week.

The Global Affairs Canada notice advises Canadians visiting the island country to “exercise caution,” monitor local news and weather reports, and follow the instructions of local authorities.
Non-essential travel warnings have also been issued for Haiti, the Cayman Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada due to Hurricane Beryl.

There are currently 3,162 Canadians registered in Haiti, 1,625 in Jamaica, 1,524 in the Cayman Islands, 341 in Grenada, and 236 in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Global Affairs Canada says.

The Category 4 storm has already hit Jamaica, according to National Hurricane Center director Michael Brennan, although the strongest of the hurricane’s winds have yet to make landfall.

The country can expect “devastating hurricane force winds” reaching up to 249 kilometres per hour today with “destructive waves” as much as 2.7 metres above normal tide levels, he said in a July 3 report.

“Everybody in Jamaica needs to be in their safe place and be prepared to stay there for at least the next 12 hours,” Mr. Brennan said, adding that there is “the potential for life threatening storm surge,” especially along Jamaica’s southern coast.

Widespread rainfall up to 12 inches (30 cm) is expected with the potential for “life threatening flash flooding and mudslides across much of the island.”

Mr. Brennan is predicting the “same hazards” for the Cayman Islands.

Colorado State University tropical scientist Phil Klotzbach said Hurricane Beryl has already shattered wind speed records, ousting 2005’s Hurricane Emily as the strongest July Atlantic hurricane in history.

Beryl was measured as a Category 5 storm July 2 with maximum sustained wind speeds of 165 miles per hour (265 km/h), he said in a social media post.

Safety Precautions

Hurricanes typically occur from mid-May to the end of November—a time period that should be taken into account when making travel plans, Global Affairs Canada says.

The agency encourages Canadians to be prepared to change travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling trips as necessary.

Global Affairs advises travellers who find themselves in the path of an impending tropical storm to:
  • Know the local emergency phone numbers.
  • Prepare an emergency supply kit that includes food, water, medicine and personal items.
  • Make a plan in case you have to evacuate that takes into consideration transportation and shelter options.
Once the storm hits, the agency advises travellers to:
  • Check for alerts on TV, radio, or online.
  • Shelter in place when necessary with an emergency supply kit close at hand.
  • Stay inside and away from windows.
  • Be ready to leave if an evacuation is ordered or accommodation is damaged.
If an evacuation is necessary, the agency advises travellers to:
  • Follow the advice of local authorities on when and where to shelter.
  • Travel with an emergency supply kit, cellphone and charger, essential medicines, identification, such as passport or driver’s licence, and cash.
  • Follow the roads that emergency workers recommend and never drive through flooded areas.