Hurricane Ian gains strength, airports and theme parks closed, cruises canceled

Hurricane Ian gaining strength, airports and theme parks closed, cruises canceled

< p>Many areas of Fort Myers and Naples are underwater, with 2 million people reporting power outages, according to the US government and weather services. The National Hurricane Center says Ian is heading to North and South Carolina and Georgia.

According to FlightAware, Ian has had a major impact on air travel since Monday, with more than 2,100 U.S. and domestic flights canceled on Wednesday and another 2,000 — on Thursday.

As a result, several Florida airports have closed, including Tampa International Airport (TPA), which suspended operations at 5 p.m. Tuesday. On Thursday afternoon, the airport announced that it plans to reopen on Friday.

Those that remain open — in particular, Miami (MIA), Palm Beach (PBI) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (FLL) airports — urged travelers to check the status of their flights with airlines immediately before departure, warning of possible delays and cancellations.

Some airlines issued and expanded travel warnings ahead of the storm, allowing even the cheapest-ticketed passengers to change their itineraries to avoid or leave dangerous areas.

As the storm intensified along Florida's Gulf Coast , flooding due to heavy rain is also expected in Central Florida.

Over the weekend, President Joe Biden declared a State of Emergency in Florida ahead of the storm, and emergency officials urged residents to start preparing.

With the storm's predicted path to South Carolina, airlines are warning of possible delays or flight cancellations this coming weekend at Charleston (CHS), Savannah/Hilton Head (SAV), and Myrtle Beach (MYR).

Most major U.S. airlines flying to Florida, including the country's four largest American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, have issued travel warnings to areas most likely to be hit by Ian. The warnings apply to the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and airports throughout Florida.

NASA has announced that it is suspending attempts to launch Artemis I, its already twice rescheduled unmanned mission to the Moon.

First there were mechanical problems, then a hurricane intervened. NASA considered launching on September 27, but it is now unclear when the next launch attempt might occur.

Orlando International Airport closed its operations at 10:30 am on Wednesday. In addition, the airport is postponing some planned changes brought about by the opening of the new Terminal C, such as moving JetBlue and Caribbean Airlines to the new terminal.

After Hurricane Ian hit the coast of Florida, three cruise ship homeports &mdash ; Port Tampa Bay, Jacksonville's JAXPort and Port Canaveral — closed to maritime traffic.

This closure forced five cruise lines to cancel Thursday and Friday voyages.

At the same time, two of Florida's three largest ports — PortMiami and Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades — reopened and flights operate as normal.

All theme parks in Orlando and Tampa are temporarily closed in preparation for Hurricane Ian. With Central Florida now on the other side of the storm and moving into the damage assessment and cleanup phase, local theme parks are reopening with staff and guest safety in mind.

Disney World will begin a phased reopening on Friday, September 30 , and will open later than usual. Some venues will remain closed.

Universal Orlando is also planning a phased reopening on Friday, September 30, with a resort hotel opening first.

Tampa Bay's Busch Gardens will likely see visitors on Saturday, Oct. 1.

SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando, Discovery Cove, and Legoland Florida are scheduled to reopen on Saturday, Oct. 1.

Airports, airlines, and tourism sites will start evaluating in the coming days damage. According to experts, the effects will be felt for weeks or even months. 

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