Hurricane Matthew blog: Stuck in Jamaica as major hurricane approaches Caribbean island

Posted at 9:42 PM, Oct 02, 2016

It’s easy to get caught up in the national headlines when the latest hurricane makes its way through the Caribbean. Often though, until it reaches the Florida shores we may not have a direct impact and it is white noise in the daily media cycle.

That changed for me this weekend.

A spontaneous “guys weekend” with my friend Cody to disconnect quickly evolved into near obsessive Twitter searches for “Hurricane Matthew Jamaica” and “Delta flights Jamaica”.


I’m a digital content leader for The E. W. Scripps Company, the parent company of this station. We are staying at all-inclusive resort in Ocho Rios on the northern shores of Jamaica. By the time our flight touched down early on Friday the two-hour bus ride to our resort was already filled with conversations about Matthew.

The frantic emails and Facebook messages start to light up our phones when Matthew briefly peaked as Category 5 Hurricane, the strongest in the region since 2007, over the weekend.

We worked to try to sneak out on an earlier flight but Delta could not find a way to get us home without additional money out of pocket.

The interesting thing for this Missouri-based millennial is despite being under a Hurricane Warning, many of the guests went on drinking and enjoying their vacations. Just after an update about what the weather service had told hotel management, they announced a beer chugging contest.

Joking aside, my friend and I ordered bottle water (and maybe a few Red Stripes) by the armload from room service to stock up in case of the worst. We also ran scenarios that would baffle most people like “we should take our passports out of the safe because if we lose power we will be locked out of the safe, right?”

Speaking of scenarios, for the purposes of my mother’s scenario (editor’s note: I’m an only child who hasn’t made it out of Missouri much) I might as well be flying with the Hurricane Hunters through the eye of Matthew. Cody’s parents (editor’s note: he is one of four kids) just wanted to make sure he remembered to actually put his phone on the charger and grab some extra bottled water

All-in-all, I have been impressed with the level of communication and overall care the local staff has provided. They know for many of us (our group last night included those from not only the U.S. but also new friends hailing from Canada and London), this is a hard earned vacation and they have tried to balance the need to prepare us with the impact on our time off.

If the plan goes as expected, we will board a 7 a.m. shuttle for the two-hour ride to Montego Bay. Southwest and Sprit have already cancelled all their flights from this international airport for Monday but our fingers are still crossed for Delta. If not, it looks like we will hunker down, throw an airport hurricane part, and have one heck of a story to tell at the office next week.

For the latest from Jamaica as Hurricane Matthew makes landfall, follow @chasesnider on Twitter.