Hundreds of flights in and out of Florida have been canceled as the Sunshine State prepares for Hurricane Idalia to make landfall Wednesday.
On Tuesday morning, the storm was gaining strength as it moved over the state’s Gulf coast. It was expected to make landfall as a Category 3 storm.
“On the forecast track, the center of Idalia is forecast to move over the eastern Gulf of Mexico [Tuesday], reach the Gulf coast of Florida within the Hurricane warning area on Wednesday, and move close to the Carolina coastline on Thursday,” the National Hurricane Center said in a statement Tuesday morning.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “there is a danger of life-threatening storm surge inundation along portions of the Florida Gulf coast, including the Tampa Bay and Big Bend region of Florida which may see water as high as 8 to 12 feet above ground level.
Tuesday morning, the FAA said it was rerouting aircraft, closing Gulf routes, and also considering pausing flights at Palm Beach International (KBPI), Miami International (KMIA), and Fort Lauderdale International (KFLL) airports.
The FAA is re-routing aircraft and closing Gulf routes as Hurricane #Idalia is expected to hit the Florida region Wednesday morning. We may pause flights in and out of @flyPBI, @iflymia and @FLLFlyer to keep you safe. Monitor https://t.co/smgdqJNBiL. #FAAWeatherSquad pic.twitter.com/xkwSDMsuGy— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) August 29, 2023
As of Monday night, approximately 500 flights in and out of Tampa International Airport (KTPA) were preemptively canceled, CNN reported. By Tuesday, cancellations continued at several airports, resulting in a domino effect across the nation’s air travel grid. More cancellations are possible.
According to the storm models under review by NOAA, the agency that tracks hurricanes, Category 3 storms carry winds greater than 80 mph.
As of 11 a.m. EDT, a look at the TAFs for the state shows multiple airports with strong winds from the south with gusts forecast to approach 50 mph.
Time is running out to prepare for Idalia! Follow the urgent advice from local officials. This hurricane could very well join the extensive list of storms starting with the letter I that have been especially destructive. pic.twitter.com/GjryWUCnl1— NWS Director (@NWSDirector) August 29, 2023