Princess Juliana Airport Severely Damaged


Princess Juliana Airport, on the Island of St. Martin, has been severely damaged by Hurricane Irma’s Category 5 winds. Maho Beach, where tourists take photos under jets landing on the island’s 7,500-foot runway, is entirely underwater in recent photos. The same photographs show a thick layer of sand covering 30 feet of the runway overrun area. Winds reported at 185 miles per hour knocked down fences, destroyed jetways and threw heavy objects through windows in the terminal. The terminal area forecast from the airport immediately prior to the storm advised pilots they could expect winds from a heading 300 at 140 knots, gusting to 160 knots.

Princess Juliana Airport is the island’s only airport capable of supporting heavy jets, which is limiting efforts to aid the beleaguered island. One government official said 95% of the island has been destroyed by Irma. The runway at Saint Martin Grand Case Airport, on the island’s north shore, is only 3,900 feet long. At least two people have been killed on the island by the storm, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in decades.