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Flight Cancelations Persist, Storm Expected to Hit Carolinas Today

Ian, the second major storm of 2022’s hurricane season, is expected to make landfall on Friday again, more than a day after it tore through Florida’s Gulf Coast, causing major flooding and devastation to areas along the coast.

According to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC), as of 5 a.m. this morning, Ian, now a Tropical Storm, was located about 145 miles south-southeast of Charleston, S.C., and about 225 miles south-southwest of Cape Fear, N.C. The storm was moving toward the north-northeast at near 9 mph, bringing winds of up to 85 mph with it.

The NHC expects Ian to turn toward the north and increase in speed this morning, before a turn toward the north-northwest by tonight. It should reach South Carolina sometime on Friday, and then move farther inland across Eastern and Central Carolina tonight.

Ian won’t strengthen until it reaches the Carolina coast later on Friday, but rapid weakening is then expected. The NHC said that “Ian is forecast to become an extratropical low over North Carolina tonight or on Saturday.”

For right now, the NHC has issued a Hurricane Warning for the area between Savannah River to Cape Near, N.C., and a Hurricane Watch for the area between east of Cape Fear to Surf City, N.C. It has also issued a Tropical Storm Warning for Altamaha Sound, Georgia to Savannah River, Cape Fear to Duck, N.C., and the Pamlico Sound.

The NHC is also warning that some areas of the coast could see deadly storm surges, with water reaching up to 7 ft in some areas, including from Edisto Beach to Littler River Inlet. Those in the area should be area of “life-threatening storm surge and hurricane conditions expected along the Carolina coast by this afternoon,” the NHC said, along with “flooding rains likely across the Carolinas and Southern Virginia.

Hurricane Tropical Storm Ian flight cancellations

Travel Delays and Cancellations
Airports from the Carolinas to South Florida are still dealing with heavy flight cancellations and delays, according to flight tracking service FlightAware, including:

  • Close to 90% of all flights from Charleston International have been canceled. The airport said it will close down when winds reach 35 kt or greater. It is recommending passengers contact their airline for any impacts or delays to specific flights.
  • Southwest Florida International, according to its last update, remains closed to all except emergency personnel and humanitarian flights. “As soon as power and water are restored, we will open commercial flights,” it said.
  • Myrtle Beach International Airport remains open, but close to 90% of outbound flights have been canceled, according to FlightAware. “Closely monitor your flight status before arriving at MYR and allow additional time for travel to the airport,” it said.
  • Savannah/Hilton Head International is remaining open, but more than 70% of outbound flights have already been scrapped as of Friday morning. “For specific flight status, airlines will always be your best source for information,” it said.
  • Hilton Head has canceled all of Friday’s flights.
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO) plans to reopen to flights at noon on Friday. “Travelers are advised not to arrive at the airport for their departure prior to 10 a.m.,” it said. “Travelers are advised to contact their airlines and rental car companies directly for individual flight and rental car information.” More than 50% of its outbound flights on Friday have been canceled, according to FlightAware.
  • Tampa International plans to reopen at 10 a.m. on Friday. “Airport maintenance and operations staff inspected the airfield and facilities this morning and determined TPA did not sustain any serious damage during the storm,” it said. All passengers should arrive at least 2 hours early and check with their airlines prior to leaving for the airport. Almost 45% of outbound flights were canceled as of Friday morning.
  • Jacksonville International Airport reopened on Friday with limited food service. “Some airlines will operate on reduced schedules, so it’s important to check flight status with your airline before heading to the terminal,” it said.
  • Orlando Sanford International has canceled all flights.

Airline Waivers
A number of airlines had issued waivers for Ian ahead of time, and those carriers extended some of those waivers due to Ian’s continued impact.

American Airlines’ waiver includes airports throughout the Carolinas, along with Columbus and Savanah, Georgia, for flights scheduled through Oct. 3. Tickets must have been purchased by Oct. 3 with new travel dates on or before Oct. 10.

Delta Air Lines’s new waiver includes airports in Georgia and South Carolina, along with airports throughout Florida. Its waiver is effective through Sept. 30, with travel allowed on or before Oct. 3 in the same cabin of service as originally booked.

JetBlue’s new waiver includes travel from Sept. 30 through Oct. 1 for Charleston, Charlotte, Raleigh/Durham, and Savannah/Hilton Head, Georgia. Travel can be rebooked for travel through Oct. 6 as long as the original travel was booked on or before Sept. 28.

Southwest Airlines has issued a waiver for Charleston International, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Myrtle Beach, Raleigh-Durham International, and Savannah, for travel through Oct. 3.

United Airlines’ waiver now includes airports throughout the Carolines, along with Savannah, Georgia, for travel dates through Oct. 3 as long as the new travel is rebooked on or before Oct. 10.

Other Impacts
After closing most of its operations for the past two days, Walt Disney World is planning a phased reopening of its theme parks and Disney Springs on Friday. Regular guest entry for the theme parks starts at 10 a.m. for the Magic Kingdom and runs through 1 p.m. for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

There is also some early theme park entry for Disney Resort hotels at all of the theme parks. All theme park visits still require a reservation.

Universal Orlando is also committing to a phased reopening on Friday. The company said that it will update its website and social channels with more information on park hours “as conditions allow.”

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