Airports closing as Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida

(NEW YORK) — Multiple airports in Florida have announced temporary closures as Hurricane Ian makes its way toward the state.

The hurricane is currently forecast to make landfall Wednesday afternoon as a Category 3 storm somewhere between Tampa and Fort Myers. It’s expected to bring with it destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge and heavy rain.

Hurricane warnings have been issued for Tampa and Fort Myers. A tropical storm watch has also been issued for Miami and tropical storm warnings have been issued for Orlando and Jacksonville. About 2.5 million Floridians are under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders, Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday morning.

As Florida’s west coast braces for Ian, several airports have already suspended or are planning to suspend operations.

All inbound and outbound flights at Key West International Airport were canceled Tuesday due to Hurricane Ian. The airport has not yet made any announcements regarding operations for Wednesday.

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport closed at 1 p.m. Tuesday due to mandatory evacuation orders from Pinellas County and will remain closed until the evacuation order is lifted, airport officials said.

Tampa International Airport will suspend all operations starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in preparation for Hurricane Ian and will “closely coordinate the reopening of the airport with its partners based on roadway safety, facility readiness, and staffing,” the airport said. It anticipated a “high volume of travelers” Tuesday ahead of its closure.

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport will close starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday, with flights suspended after its last departure at 6 p.m., airport officials said.

On Wednesday, the Orlando International Airport will stop operations at 10:30 a.m., and the Melbourne Orlando International Airport said it will close at 2 p.m. “due to the increasing likelihood of tropical impacts locally.”

Impacted travelers are encouraged to contact their airlines directly for updates.

Miami International Airport, one of the busiest airports in Florida, is “not in the cone of concern” and remains open, the airport said. Flights between the airport and the Cayman Islands, Cuba and central and north Florida are expected to be delayed or canceled due to Ian, local officials said.

Ahead of the storm, hundreds of flights have been canceled on Wednesday, primarily into or out of Orlando International Airport, according to FlightAware.

Several airlines are offering travel waivers for those who may be impacted by Hurricane Ian, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. American is also adding “reduced, last minute fares” for cities that will be impacted by Hurricane Ian and waiving checked bag fees for two checked bags on flights to and from certain airports.

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