Mexico 8.2 Earthquake: Tsunami alert for Central America; hurricane watch

A powerful 8.2 earthquake occurred off the coast of Chiapas, in Southern Mexico earlier today. It appears to have claimed at least 30 lives.

A large number of aftershocks have been recorded following the initial earthquake and further aftershocks are anticipated. The earthquake, which struck at 23:50 local time on Thursday (04:50 GMT Friday), was felt in Mexico City, with reports of buildings swaying and pavements cracking open. At present, there is limited information available but at least 32 people have been killed and severe damage has been reported in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas.

Due to the size of the earthquake a tsunami warning remains in place for Pacific coastlines of countries including Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and Honduras.

The FCO have updated their travel advice for the following countries:

Costa Rica https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/costa-rica
Mexico https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/mexico
Guatemala https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/guatemala
El Salvador https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/el-salvador
Panama https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/panama
Honduras https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/honduras

We will continue to monitor the situation.

Hurricane Irma

Category 4 Hurricane Irma has now passed the Leeward Islands, St. Martin the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and just north of the coast of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti) and is expected to move towards the Bahamas, Cuba and Florida in the next couple of days.

While local authorities are beginning to assess the damage Hurricane Irma has caused so far, a State of Emergency has been declared in the British Virgin Islands.

Currently, there is a hurricane warning in place for a number of areas, including the Turks and Caicos Islands, South-eastern, Central and Northern Bahamas,  the Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, and Villa Clara and parts of Florida, (including Jupiter Inlet southward around the Florida peninsula to Bonita Beach, Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee,  Florida Bay).

In general terms, we advise travellers to follow the advice of hotel management over taking shelter and to cooperate with local authorities regarding any evacuation procedures should this be considered necessary.  Local airport authorities will determine whether international and local flights will be able to take off and land.

Hurricane Jose

In the meantime Category 3 Hurricane Jose is expected to move towards the Leeward Islands in the next couple of days.

A Hurricane Watch is in place for Antigua, Barbuda, and Anguilla, Sint Maarten,  St. Martin and  St. Barthelemy.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in place for Antigua, Barbuda, and Anguilla.

A Tropical Storm Watch is in place for  Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saba and St. Eustatius.

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area.  A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

As travellers to the region at this time of the year appreciate, storms can change course and intensify at short notice. The hurricane season in the Caribbean traditionally runs from June to December with September and October the most likely months for hurricanes to form. A  hurricane is classified as major if it grows in strength to category 3 or more, with sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

Hurricane Katia

Yet another hurricane, Katia, is moving slowly in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico and is expected to continue to strengthen by the time it makes landfall in eastern Mexico on early Saturday.