Six Florida airports suspend operations ahead of storm impact

by | Sep 28, 2022

 

  • Six airports across southwest and central Florida have suspended operations ahead of Hurricane Ian’s landfall
  • High winds and potential flooding render commercial travel inoperable, but some terminals in Tampa and Orlando’s airports will remain open for emergency response and military aircraft 
  • Most shuttered airports plan to re-open on Friday, but sustained damages could force further closures

Six airports across southwest and central Florida have ceased operations in anticipation of Hurricane Ian’s landfall and subsequent heavy winds. Though the airports plan to re-open on Friday, sustained damage could push operational activity further back.

Melbourne Orlando International Airport (MLB), Orlando International Airport (MCO), Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW),  St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE), and Tampa International Airport (TPA) all announced closures earlier this week and will remain closed through at least Thursday.

While the airports are closed to commercial air travel, some, like Tampa and Orlando airports, will remain open for emergency response aircraft.

“While all commercial flights have ceased, some cargo and military aircraft may continue to arrive or depart on an emergency basis. The Airport – including the Main Terminal, Airsides, and parking garages – is closed to all passengers and visitors, with only employees considered to be “storm riders” remaining on Airport property to assist with operations, maintenance, communications and other essential on-site tasks,” Tampa International said in a statement.

According to flight monitoring data, more than 2,000 scheduled flights have been canceled.

White House officials at a Wednesday briefing warned that severe rains and flash flooding will likely strike the entire state this week.

Miami International Airport (MIA), one of the state’s busiest transit hubs, states that it is not in the cone of concern and plans to remain open through the week.

Hurricane Ian is quickly moving towards Florida’s Gulf Coast with sustained wind speeds of 155 miles per hour. Landfall is expected to occur at 11:30 A.M. near Venice, Florida.

Amid impending floods and storm surges, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday morning warned that it’s too late to evacuate afflicted areas.

Just 2 miles per hour short of being classified as a Category 5, roughly 2.5 million Floridians had been urged by local authorities to leave their homes to escape Ian. Shortly after early landfall, 17,000 in Broward County are reported to be without power.

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