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Maho Beach Is Washed Away, St. Martin Airport Damaged By Hurricane Irma

Sint-Maarten, 6 september 2017. Vlucht boven Sint-Maarten tbv het vaststellen van de schade van orkaan Irma. Tevens wordt een inschatting gemaakt van de gebieden waar de meeste hulp benodigd is, en waar schepen evt kunnen aanleggen. Foto: Vliegveld en landingsbaan Sint-Maarten.

UPDATE #2 Sept 7, 2017 2:41PM PT:

Additional photos have emerged of Princess Juliana Airport.  The Dutch Ministry of Defense has posted a series of photos showing the devastating power of Irma .The Maho Beach looks completely washed away.  The famous bar at the end of the runway is in tatters.  The main runway looks mostly clear but it is evident that the water washed over the runway.  This probably means that all runway lights and approach equipment has been damaged.  As of 2PM PT time, the airport is still officially closed.

Sint-Maarten Princess Juliana Airport, September 6, 2017.
Photo: Vliegveld en landingsbaan Sint-Maarten.

UPDATE #1 Sept 7, 2017 8:53AM PT:

Photos are beginning to emerge of St. Martin Island and Princess Juliana’s famed Maho Beach.  It is clear that Hurricane Irma was a very destructive storm.  While buildings surrounding the field appear to be standing, the area looks more like a warzone than a tourist destination.  The damage is severe and widespread.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Maho Beach fared much better.  While the waters might be still receding, it appears that the beach itself was washed away.  It will take some significant work to repair the buildings and restore the beach.

Maho Beach on St. Maarten is officially gone #HurricaneIrma#Irmapic.twitter.com/KrMCWMWfz4


Original report:

Hurricane Irma, a major category 5 storm, barreled through the Caribbean today.  In its direct path was St. Martin Island. While some news outlets sensationally state that the airport was ‘destroyed’, it’s clear that the airport was damaged by the massive Hurricane.  Here’s what we know so far:

1.)  St. Martin took a direct hit

Maximum sustained winds from the hurricane have been estimated at 185MPH with gusts over 200MPH. The island took a direct hit from the storm.

2.) The famous Maho Beach camera showed intense weather before it went offline

Video from the Maho Beach cam cut out during the most intense part of the Hurricane and is presumably destroyed.  PTZtv.com hosts the Maho Beach camera.  They saved the last live clip and posted it on YouTube.  In the final video, you can see the intense bands of rain and extreme winds tearing up the parking lot and damaging a nearby car.

3.) Tweets show damage to the extensive terminal, gates, and airport equipment

With the storm now passed the island, photos of the airport and the island have started to appear.  In the photos, it is clear that the island sustained damage and the airport wasn’t left unscathed.  In some of the photos taken by Twitter user @bondtehond, you can see sheet metal torn off the roof of the terminal and one of the four gates appears to be damaged.  The inside of the terminal appears to have sustained water and wind damage too.

4.) The airport is currently closed

NOTAMs published before the hurricane approached show that the airport was closed in anticipation of the storm’s arrival.  No new NOTAMs have been published since the storm hit.

Hurricane Irma continues to churn eastward towards southern Florida.  It is expected to make landfall in the US this weekend. We’ll update this story with the latest coverage as we learn more.

About Princess Juliana International Airport

St. Martin (also spelled St. Maarten) is known for its world-famous Maho Beach that sits right at the end of runway of Princess Juliana International Airport.  Avgeeks from all over the world descend on Maho Beach to watch everything from Boeing 747s to small planes arrive into the island.

JetBlue A320 departure from SXM. Photo by Brad Hayes.

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