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Florida Braces for Hurricane Season with Hurricane Idalia

by Aoife O’Riordan

Aug 30, 2023

© Zenobillis | Dreamstime.com

eFlyer Lead

On the cusp of September, Florida faces its first hurricane. Hurricane Idalia made landfall on Florida’s west coast early Wednesday, Aug. 30, as a Category 3, then traveled northwest, passing through northern Florida. As of press time, the storm weakened to a Category 1 through Georgia, expecting to hit South Carolina tonight.

A hurricane warning was issued along miles of Florida’s coastline, with life-threatening storm surges possible along portions of the Florida Gulf Coast. In response, cruise lines, airports and theme parks announced changes to prepare for the storm. Tampa International Airport closed early Tuesday and will remain closed until after the storm passes and crew can assess the damage. As of press time, the airport intends to open the morning of Aug. 31.

Currently, other Florida airports in the line of the storm, including Jacksonville International Airport, Orlando International Airport, Miami International Airport and Southwest Florida International Airport, have not announced any closures, but certain airlines at these airports have ceased operations for Aug. 30. American Airlines suspended all operations at airports in Tampa, Sarasota and Tallahassee for Aug. 30, too.

On Aug. 30 morning, the FAA reported 900 flights had already been cancelled due to the storm, with another 2,000 delayed.

Several airlines offer travel waivers for passengers booked to fly to parts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, including Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Allegiant. Check each airline’s official website for waiver policies and the latest flight updates.

Cruise lines also responded to the storm. Celebrity Cruises altered its six-day trip from Fort Lauderdale by stopping in Falmouth instead of Grand Cayman. MSC Cruises will switch MSC Meraviglia’s stops in Miami and Nassau to different days to avoid the storm. Other cruise lines altering itineraries include Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Virgin Voyages and Disney Cruise Line.

Travelers planning to venture to any of central Florida’s major theme parks should monitor official theme park websites. Universal Orlando Resort continues to operate as usual. The theme park’s severe weather policy offers penalty-free rebooking and cancellations for vacation packages, hotel stays and tickets booked directly through Universal. You can stay up to date here.

Walt Disney World continues operating under normal conditions but waived change and cancellation fees Aug. 28–Sept. 4. Florida residents evacuating the storm and first responders assisting with evacuation are eligible for a 50 percent discount on new bookings Aug. 29–31.

The storm comes a little less than a year after Tropical Storm Nicole hit southwest Florida in November 2022 and Hurricane Ian hit the same region just one month prior. 

Were you affected by Hurricane Idalia? Has this storm affected your travels? Do you think Florida will have more hurricanes and tropical storms this season? Tell us your thoughts. Email us at [email protected]. Please include your full name and location.


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