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Everything Vancouver travellers need to know about 'Hurricane Lee'

The situation continues to evolve.
While it is too early to know Hurricane Lee's path, Vancouver travellers may want to rethink travel plans if they are flexible.

As Hurricane Lee makes its way across the Atlantic, vacation hopefuls might be clenching their jaws.

While the powerful tempest alarmingly progressed to a Category 5 hurricane early Friday (Sept. 8) morning, it has lost some strength, weakening to a Category 4 storm by Friday afternoon, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Centre (NHC). 

Category 5 hurricanes produce devastating winds in excess of 252 kilometres per hour, while Category 4 storms generate winds reaching at least 209 kilometres per hour, which can also cause catastrophic damage to buildings and trees.

The U.S. hurricane department is unsure of what, if any, impacts Lee might have along the U.S. East Coast, Atlantic Canada, or Bermuda late next week. However, dangerous surf and rip currents are expected along most of the U.S. east coast starting on Sunday or Monday.  

The Northern Leeward Islands are currently experiencing dangerous and life-threatening surf conditions. Soon, Lee's impacts will be felt across Puerto Rico, Hispanola, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, and Bermuda, according to the NHC.

More will be known about Hurricane Lee's path at the beginning of next week. 

If you have flights from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) that are scheduled to visit any areas impacted by severe weather, major Canadian airlines Air Canada and WestJet have recommendations for travellers. You can also visit Canada's hurricane tracker to see the path that storms are taking.

What should I do if I have a flight booked somewhere that could be affected by Hurricane Lee?

WestJet currently does not have a travel advisory in place for the storm but told V.I.A. that it will continue to monitor the situation closely and update its travel advisory page if the situation evolves.

"At this time, the forecast does not indicate significant impacts to our network or operations as a result of Hurricane Lee," the airline stated. 

Air Canada did not respond to V.I.A.'s request by our publishing deadline but also does not have an advisory in place for the tropical storm. However, it typically will re-book impacted passengers for free, space permitting, onto new flights. 

Travellers who may have been impacted by Hurricane Idalia were offered alternative travel plans in the wake of the powerful tropical storms by both airlines. 

With most airlines, some higher booking classes allow for free changes ahead of travel depending on when you make the change. Typically, the closer you get to the date of departure, the more difficult it will be to make any changes. 

If you purchased travel insurance, you may be able to cancel travel plans a week in advance. Travel insurance policies vary widely, however, so ensure you check with your provider before making a decision. 

With files from the Canadian Press.