Hurricane Idalia is now a Category 2 Hurricane and is headed toward the Gulf Coast of Florida.
As of the latest update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) at 5 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Idalia is currently about 195 miles southwest of Tampa, and 300 miles south of Tallahassee, moving north at 16 mph. It is expected to reach the Big Bend coast of Florida Wednesday morning. After landfall, the storm is expected to turn toward the northeast and east, moving near or along the coasts of Georgia and then the Carolinas late Wednesday and Thursday.
For right now, the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter has clocked winds from the storm at nearly 100 mph with higher gusts. The storm could get even stronger and may still remain a hurricane as it moves across Florida, into Georgia, and possibly even when it does reach the Atlantic coast and Southern Carolina on Wednesday.
The storm is expected to halt a lot of travel along the Gulf Coast of Florida and could have a major impact even as it moves northeast once it makes landfall. Here’s where things stand right now:
Tampa International Airport closed its doors on Tuesday and said that it would only reopen “when it is safe to do so, following a damage assessment.” Idalia is expected to hit the area sometime on Wednesday, which would mean at least 48 hours of closure for Tampa.
Tallahassee International Airport, which remained open through Tuesday morning, is closing its doors on Tuesday at 11 p.m. It expects to resume operations on Thursday.
“The airport will close at 11 p.m. tonight, Aug. 29. It will remain closed on Wednesday, with normal operations resuming Thursday morning. Customers are encouraged to verify the status of their commercial flight with their airline prior to heading to the airport,” it said in a statement.
St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport closed its doors on Tuesday at 3 p.m. and said it expects to open at the same hour on Wednesday. “Passengers should check with their airline for flight information updates,” it said in an update.
Sarasota Bradenton International Airport is also closing—it said it will be closed starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and plans to reopen at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, but only “pending damage assessment.”
Orlando International Airport said on Tuesday afternoon that, based on the current forecast of Idalia, it expects to stay open and maintain a “state of readiness.” It is also warning that it could temporarily close “if conditions warrant.”
“Please continue to work with your airline in regards to your travel plans,” it said.
Orlando Sanford International also remains open—according to FlightAware, even with it being operational, more than 50% of flights from that airport on Wednesday have been canceled
Southwest Florida International Airport also said it expects to remain open and to operate as close to a normal schedule as possible. There have been some changes to its flight schedule, particularly on some flights for Breeze, Delta, and Southwest. It is telling all travelers to check with their specific airline ahead of their flights. According to FlightAware, 36% of flights from Southwest Florida on Wednesday have been canceled.
Jacksonville International Airport is saying the same—it is open and operational and all travelers should check their flight information with their airline. According to FlightAware, 16% of Wednesday departures have already been canceled.
Some of the state’s other major airports, most notably Miami International and Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International, also do not expect a major impact but could see some delays and cancellations depending on their outbound schedule.
Airlines began issuing travel waivers en masse on Monday once it became crystal clear just how big of an impact Idalia might have.
American Airlines’ waiver includes travel to, from, or through, Charleston, Daytona Beach International, Southwest Florida International, Gainesville Regional, Hilton Head, Jacksonville, Myrtle Beach, Orlando International, Sarasota, Savannah/Hilton Head International, Tallahassee, and Tampa.
American is allowing travelers scheduled for travel through Aug. 31 to change their flight without penalty, as long as they don’t change their origin or destination city and rebook in the same cabin and rebook for travel by Sept. 4.
Delta Air Lines’ waiver includes travel to, from, or through Brunswick Golden Isles Airport, Charleston International Airport, Columbus Airport, Daytona Beach International, Southwest Florida International, Gainesville Regional, Hilton Head, Jacksonville, Key West, Myrtle Beach, Orlando International, Panama City, Sarasota, Savannah/Hilton Head International, Tallahassee, Tampa, and Valdosta.
Delta is waiving fare differences for those scheduled through Aug. 31 as long as travel occurs on or before Sept. 3 in the same class of service.
Frontier’s waiver includes Southwest Florida International, Sarasota, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Savannah/Hilton Head International, and Myrtle Beach for travel through Aug. 31.
JetBlue’s waiver includes Southwest Florida International, Jacksonville, Orlando, Sarasota, Savannah/Hilton Head, and Tampa. The carrier is allowing travelers scheduled through Aug. 30 to rebook their flights for travel through Sept. 2 and giving those with canceled flights the option of choosing a full refund instead.
Southwest’s waiver includes Charleston International Airport, Columbus Airport, Destin/Ft. Walton Beach, Southwest Florida International, Jacksonville, Myrtle Beach, Orlando International, Panama City, Pensacola, Sarasota, Savannah/Hilton Head International, Tallahassee, and Tampa. It is waiving all fare differences for changes made for those cities through Aug. 31.
Southwest is also allowing those traveling through Sarasota or Tampa to change their departure or origin city to other Florida airports without paying additional charges.
United’s waiver includes Charleston, Hilton Head, Jacksonville, Orlando, Myrtle Beach, Southwest Florida International, Savannah, Sarasota, and Tampa. The carrier is allowing changes for those scheduled to travel through Aug. 31 without penalty or fare differences. New tickets need to be for travel by Sept. 4.
Cruise lines changes
Several cruise ships have been rerouted to avoid Hurricane Idalia. That includes ships from Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity, Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and more. Many ships have altered course and changed their expected itineraries.