Florida Airports Closing, More Than 1,300 Flights Cancelled As Hurricane Approaches

Image courtesy of NASA

Things are about to get very, very nasty in Florida and the southeast, with Hurricane Matthew — one of the strongest seen in the U.S. in many years — bearing down rapidly on the coast. And that means if you’ve got travel plans in the coming days that are supposed to take you to or through many big, busy airports… think again.

Hurricane Matthew is forecast to make landfall in southeast Florida on Friday morning, but rain and strong winds come well ahead of a hurricane’s actual formal landfall. To get prepared, Florida airports — and the airlines that fly to them — are winding down now.

Orlando International Airport (MCO) has announced that all commercial service is expected to end by 8:00 p.m. tonight and recommends passengers check with their airlines.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) reports that staff have “already begun securing the airport,” and that today’s last commercial flight was Southwest flight 364 to Baltimore-Washington, which departed at 10:16.

Miami International Airport (MIA) says that flights in and out are expected to stop by noon today; technically speaking the airport remains “open and ready for when flights resume,” which is up to the airlines.

Tampa International Airport (TPA) is on Florida’s western, Gulf-facing coast and is not likely to face as significant an impact as the East coast will. However, TPA still reports that several flights have been delayed or cancelled, and that it will be continuing to update travelers as to its status through the day.

MORE: These airlines are waiving passengers’ rebooking fees

Hurricanes, unlike some other weather phenomena, are easy for meteorologists to spot and warn people about well in advance of their arrival. Airlines have been waiving rebooking and cancellation fees for folks scheduled to fly to or through Florida since Monday.

Hurricane Matthew is proving to be the most significant storm to approach the U.S. in many years. This morning it once again reached upward to category 4 status.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has flat-out told his state, “This is going to kill people,” and encouraged residents to prepare their food and water supplies and evacuate where possible.

Several areas have been subject to mandatory evacuation, and the National Weather Service says that severe damage to structures, trees, wires, power, communications, and roads will result.

Forecast models indicate it is also possible that the storm could do a full 360 degree loop and come back to Florida’s southeast coast after moving north, although it’s still too early to determine exactly what will happen so many days out.

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