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Threat of Hurricane Ian cancels more than 3,200 flights in Florida

Airports in Orlando, the Miami area and Tampa were the most affected

A traveler rests on a couch at Orlando International Airport before the facility closed Wednesday ahead of Hurricane Ian's arrival. People stuck at the airport will be sent to a shelter. (John Raoux/AP)

Airlines canceled more than 3,800 U.S. flights scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday — including more than 3,200 at Florida airports — as powerful Hurricane Ian lurked off the Gulf Coast, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.

The bulk of the cancellations were at Orlando International Airport, which closed Wednesday morning, and Tampa International Airport, which closed Tuesday until further notice. Airports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale stayed open Wednesday but saw more than 600 cancellations by the afternoon.

Several smaller airports in the state also closed Tuesday. Melbourne Orlando International said it would close at 2 p.m. Wednesday and likely remain shuttered Thursday.

7 things to know about traveling during hurricane season

As of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, 2,111 U.S. flights were canceled for that day and another 1,721 were axed Thursday, according to FlightAware. Flights into or out of five Florida airports accounted for more than 1,800 of the Wednesday cancellations, and flights scheduled for four Florida airports accounted for more than 1,400 of the Thursday cancellations.

Airline consultant Robert W. Mann said in an email that Florida commercial airports are always busy — and have been especially so during the pandemic.

“What happens as the storm crosses the state affects flying at each origin, destination, and hub on a connection,” he said. Further delays and cancellations are possible since the disruption comes close to the end of the month, when some crew may have reached their maximum flying time.

Airports have said they will know more about when they can reopen once the storm has passed and workers can assess any damage. They say passengers should check with airlines about upcoming flight schedules.

“Airlines, their dispatch operations and crews try to recover evacuated aircraft to re-establish service as soon as the affected airports re-open, which local FAA will determine based on condition of the airfield and electronic navigation aids,” Mann said in his email. “This can be within hours of storm wind passage, or could take days if facilities must be repaired or replaced.”

The Atlantic hurricane season

The latest: The 2022 season started out slow, but has rapidly intensified this fall with conditions prime for storms. Fiona brought severe flooding to Puerto Rico before making landfall in Canada, and now we’re tracking Hurricane Ian as it heads for Florida. For the seventh year in a row, hurricane officials expect an above-average season of hurricane activity.

Tips for preparing: We rounded up seven safety tips to help you get ready for hurricanes. Here’s some other guidance about keeping your phone charged and useful in dangerous weather, and what to know about flood insurance.

Understanding climate change: It’s not just you — hurricanes and tropical storms have hit the U.S. more frequently in recent years. And last summer alone, nearly 1 in 3 Americans experienced a weather disaster. Read more about how climate change is fueling severe weather events.

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