As Florida and the Gulf Coast brace for what experts say could be a “life-threatening” storm, hundreds of flights are being canceled in and out of the state as many attempt to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Idalia.
St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Tampa International Airport shut down Tuesday afternoon ahead of the impending storm, as both are located where storm surge is expected to reach water levels up to 15 feet.
“A significant amount of water would certainly slow down our recovery and reopening and that’s why it’s so critical that we are suspending operations when we are,” Tampa International Airport Operations Director John Tiliacos said Monday during a press conference.
Fort Myers Beach during a high tide ahead of Hurricane Idalia in Fort Myers, Florida (Getty Images)
According to FlightAware, 323 flights set to leave or arrive in Tampa were canceled for Wednesday ahead of the storm, while another 379 were canceled in and out of the airport on Tuesday.
Major airlines took to X to issue warnings to passengers who might be traveling through or near Idalia’s path, including United Airlines, which said that it was adding additional flights out of Orlando and Sarasota to help assist those trying to evacuate the state.
Tampa Airport (@FlyTPA) will close Tuesday, August 29 ahead of #Idalia. To help travelers evacuate, we’re adding additional flights from Orlando (MCO) and Sarasota (SRQ). Check the United app for the latest information and here for waiver options ➡️ https://t.co/qvR367jv6N pic.twitter.com/GY2G5l07VD
— United Airlines (@united) August 29, 2023
Due to Hurricane Idalia, service in some cities may be disrupted.
Check your flight status and view rebooking options here: https://t.co/xiH263qeVs
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) August 29, 2023
— americanair (@AmericanAir) August 28, 2023
Idalia is expected to make landfall on Wednesday morning and has strengthened to a Category 3 storm.