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Hurricane Dean: What You Need to Know

Carol Sottili

Hurricane Dean is poised to become a Category 5 (the worst -- winds over 155 mph) hurricane before it slams into Mexico's Yucatan peninsula tomorrow morning.

The resort areas of Jamaica and Grand Cayman were lucky. The storm passed to the south, and most resorts sustained only minimal damage. Most are open for business. The Montego Bay airport is expected to reopen this afternoon. For latest news go to www.caymanislands.ky and www.visitjamaica.com.

Weather forecasters believe the storm is going to hit south of Tulum, about 215 miles south of Cancun, near Costa Maya, a port frequented by several cruise lines, including Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Many cruise ships have altered their itineraries this week. And no, you won't get a refund: If you read the fine print, the cruise lines retain the right to alter ports of call.

As of 1 p.m., Cancun International Airport remained open, but most tourists were leaving, not arriving. Cancun officials said it will be rainy, but that they don't expect to experience the full power of the storm. Weather officials said resort beaches will receive waves up to 24 feet high, resulting in severe beach erosion. Updates: www.yucatantoday.com .

Airlines who offer service to affected cities are allowing passengers to change their plans without penalty. Go to your airline's Web site for details, as each airline has slightly different rules.
As for travel insurance, don't assume you're covered. You can't buy travel insurance that provides hurricane coverage once that hurricane has been named. And some policies are very strict about what they will cover. Some of the cheaper policies require that you buy the insurance at least 15 days before the storm, even if it hasn't been named then. Go to sites such as www.squaremouth.com or www.insuremytrip.com to compare policies.

By Carol Sottili |  August 20, 2007; 3:47 PM ET  | Category:  Carol Sottili
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