Hurricane Ian
Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States.

Travel Alert September 2022: Flights Canceled and Airports Closed in Florida as Hurricane Ian Approaches

Mandatory evacuations are under way as more airlines issue travel waivers.

As flights have been canceled, airports are closed, mandatory evacuations have been ordered, and additional travel waivers have issued by more airlines, if much of the state of Florida is in your travel plans over the next few days, you may want to consider delaying your travel — or, at least, keep yourself updated as to the latest information pertaining to the weather — due to Hurricane Ian, whose first landfall occurred in western Cuba early this morning, Tuesday, September 27, 2022 and is on its way to its second landfall in Florida as soon as early tomorrow afternoon, Wednesday, September 28, 2022 somewhere between Sarasota and Fort Myers.

Travel Alert September 2022: Flights Canceled and Airports Closed in Florida as Hurricane Ian Approaches

Hurricane Ian
Source: National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States.

Maximum sustained winds of this tropical storm system — which is currently centered approximately 180 miles south southwest of Punta Gorda in Florida and is moving north northeast at ten miles per hour — are 120 miles per hour, which means that it is classified as a Category 3 hurricane…

…and the slowing of the forward movement of Hurricane Ian, the development of its clearly defined eye; and the shape of the hurricane becoming more symmetrical means that it is gaining further strength and becoming an even more dangerous storm which will bring torrential rain, strong gusty winds, and isolated tornadoes which will result in potentially catastrophic flooding, fallen trees, and downed power lines which will result in thousands of people without electrical power.

Trees have fallen in Cuba where the first landfall of Hurricane Ian occurred earlier today — as well as flooding and electric power outages — and the storm was not as strong as it is forecast to become when landfall occurs in Florida.

Greater than 1,200 flights have already been canceled; and major airports in Florida have either closed or will close until Hurricane Ian passes through.

The following message is currently at the official Internet web site of Tampa International Airport:

Tampa International Airport will suspend all operations beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27 due to Hurricane Ian, which continues to threaten the Tampa Bay region with strong winds, heavy rain and storm surge.

The 5 p.m. closure will allow the Airport to prepare the airfield and terminals, including the securing of jet bridges, ground equipment, and any remaining aircraft. The Airport, including the Main Terminal, Airsides, and parking garages will be closed to all visitors at that time.

Damage assessments will begin as soon as it is safe to do so. TPA will closely coordinate the reopening of the airport with its partners based on roadway safety, facility readiness, and staffing.

This major hurricane has been increasing in strength as it gets even more organized — likely to at least a Category 4 hurricane — before heading towards a second landfall somewhere between Sarasota and Fort Myers as soon as early tomorrow afternoon, Wednesday, September 28, 2022, as the track of this dangerous storm now keeps shifting towards the east…

…and the shifting of the track of the hurricane to the east means that not only will landfall occur as much as two days earlier than expected; but the hurricane will now most likely still be a major hurricane when landfall occurs further south in Florida than was originally predicted.

Residents and visitors in much of the state of Florida are strongly advised to finish preparations for this hurricane as soon as possible — which includes evacuations — while inland areas of the southern United States could receive significant amounts of precipitation, strong gusty winds, significant flooding, and threats of isolated tornadoes.

Ron DeSantis — who is the current governor of Florida — declared an official state of emergency to all 67 counties in the entire state of Florida on Thursday, September 23, 2022; and mandatory evacuations have been ordered for parts of Hillsborough County and Manatee County as only two of the areas in which approximately 2.5 million people in the state were ordered to evacuate.

Significant precipitation of up to:

  • 24 inches of rain is forecast for central Florida and northeast Florida
  • 16 inches of rain is forecast for western Cuba to central Cuba, with flash flooding and mudslides in higher terrain areas possible
  • 12 inches of rain is forecast for the Florida Keys, South Florida, eastern Georgia, and coastal South Carolina.

A dangerous storm surge of up to:

  • Twelve feet is forecast for the middle of Longboat Key to Bonita Beach — including Charlotte Harbor
  • Nine feet is forecast for Bonita Beach to Chokoloskee
  • Six feet is forecast for:
    • Anclote River to the middle of Longboat Key — including Tampa Bay
    • The mouth of the Saint Mary’s River to Altamaha Sound
    • Chokoloskee to East Cape Sable
  • Five feet is forecast for:
    • Suwannee River to Anclote River
    • Dry Tortugas
    • The border which Flagler County and Volusia County share to the mouth of the Saint Mary’s River — including Saint Johns River
    • Altamaha Sound to Savannah River
  • Four feet is forecast for:
    • Saint Johns River south of Julington
    • Savannah River to South Santee River
    • East Cape Sable to Card Sound Bridge
    • Florida Keys
  • Three feet is forecast for:
    • Patrick Air Force Base to the border which Flagler County and Volusia County share
    • Indian Pass to Suwanee River

Meanwhile, swells generated by Hurricane Ian are affecting the western Caribbean and the Florida Keys with strong rip currents and surf rough enough to threaten lives — and they will spread northward throughout the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

As with Hurricane Fiona, one reason why what was once known as Tropical Storm Ian became a major hurricane is because of the warm temperature of the water in the Gulf of Mexico, which was basically undisturbed by other tropical storm systems this year. Tropical storms and hurricanes draw their energy from warm water, which cools once the tropical system moves on. Because no named storms formed in the Atlantic Basin in August of 2022 — which is extremely rare — the temperature of the water did not cool.

The effects of Hurricane Ian will adversely affect much of the state — even in many areas which will not experience a direct landfall. Because tropical cyclones spin in a counterclockwise direction in the northern hemisphere, the hurricane will bring its destructive forces from the south and west to much of southwestern Florida as it is fueled by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

For these reasons, residents and visitors in most of the state of Florida should have finished preparations by now for this potentially dangerous hurricane — which includes mandatory evacuations — even as it is projected to weaken from its status as a major hurricane prior to landfall in Florida.

On a more bizarre note, Hurricane Ian may take a track that could be unprecedented: just after it is expected to emerge off the coast of northeastern Florida as a tropical storm, it is expected to turn towards the southeast coast of Georgia for a possible rare landfall in that state.

To add insult to injury, gasoline prices started increasing sharply. In the greater Atlanta metropolitan area, the price for a gallon of gasoline has spiked by 30 cents.

Official Warnings and Watches

The following official warnings were issued by the National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States:

  • A hurricane warning is currently in effect for:
    • Chokoloskee to the Anclote River in Florida — including Tampa Bay
    • Dry Tortugas
  • A tropical storm warning is currently in effect for:
    • Provinces of La Habana, Mayabeque, and Matanzas in Cuba
    • Suwannee River to the Anclote River
    • All of the Florida Keys
    • Flamingo to Altamaha Sound
    • Flamingo to Chokoloskee
    • Lake Okeechobee
    • Florida Bay
    • Bimini and Grand Bahama Islands
  • A tropical storm watch is currently in effect in the state of Florida and the southeastern coast of the state of Georgia for:
    • North of Altamaha Sound to South Santee River
  • A storm surge warning is currently in effect in the state of Florida for:
    • Anclote River southward to Flamingo
    • Tampa Bay
  • A storm surge watch is currently in effect in the state of Florida for:
    • Suwannee River southward to Flamingo
    • Tampa Bay
    • Dry Tortugas
    • The border which Flagler County and Volusia County share to the mouth of the Saint Mary’s River
    • Saint Johns River

Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations

If you are traveling to, from, or within much of the state of Florida over the next few days, expect delays and cancellations of flights. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to this tropical weather system which may adversely affect your travel plans. Better yet, postponing or canceling your trip might be a better option — no matter which mode of travel you plan on taking.

If you have a flight scheduled, your flight may be delayed or canceled — and you may be eligible for a waiver of a fee to change your itinerary.

Here are 14 airlines which have issued travel alerts as a result of this tropical weather system:

  • American Airlines has issued travel alerts for Grand Cayman, Havana, Kingston, Montego Bay, and sixteen airports in Florida for Friday, September 23, 2022 through Saturday, October 1, 2022; and Saturday, October 8, 2022 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Delta Air Lines has issued travel alerts for:
    • Grand Cayman for Monday, September 26, 2022 through Tuesday, September 27, 2022; and Friday, September 30, 2022 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • 16 airports in Florida for Sunday, September 25, 2022 through Friday, September 30, 2022; and Monday, October 3, 2022 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • United Airlines has issued travel alerts for:
    • Grand Cayman and Montego Bay for Friday, September 23, 2022 through Monday, September 26, 2022; and Monday, October 3, 2022 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Eleven airports in Florida for Friday, September 23, 2022 through Friday, September 30, 2022; and Saturday, October 8, 2022 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Alaska Airlines has issued travel alerts for five airports in Florida for Sunday, September 25, 2022 through Friday, September 30, 2022; and Saturday, October 8, 2022 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Southwest Airlines has issued travel alerts for:
    • Grand Cayman and Montego Bay for Saturday, September 24, 2022 through Sunday, September 25, 2022; and Sunday, October 9, 2022 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Havana and eleven airports in Florida for Sunday, September 25, 2022 through Friday, September 30, 2022; and Friday, October 14, 2022 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • JetBlue Airways has issued travel alerts for:
    • Havana for Monday, September 26, 2022 through Tuesday, September 27, 2022; and Saturday, October 1, 2022 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin
    • Eight airports in Florida for Monday, September 26, 2022 through Friday, September 30, 2022; and Monday, October 3, 2022 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin
  • Frontier Airlines has issued travel alerts for eight airports in Florida for Tuesday, September 27, 2022 through Friday, September 30, 2022; and Monday, October 10, 2022 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Spirit Airlines has issued travel alerts for Fort Myers, Orlando, and Tampa for Tuesday, September 27, 2022 through Friday, September 30, 2022; and Monday, October 3, 2022 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Allegiant Air has issued travel alerts for eight airports in Florida for Monday, September 26, 2022 through Friday, September 30, 2022.
  • Sun Country Airlines has issued travel alerts for:
    • Fort Myers, Orlando, and Tampa for Sunday, September 25, 2022 through Thursday, September 29, 2022; and Thursday, October 6, 2022 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Jacksonville for Friday, September 30, 2022; and Friday, October 7, 2022 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Air Canada has issued travel alerts for:
  • WestJet Airways has issued travel alerts for:
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways has issued travel alerts for 16 airports in Florida for Sunday, September 25, 2022 through Friday, September 30, 2022; and Monday, October 3, 2022 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.

Final Boarding Call

Be sure to contact your airline or transportation provider for the latest information pertaining to your travels — if they are adversely affected — and please: travel safely.

Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States.

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