Hurricane Watch in Effect for Florida’s Gulf Coast; Airlines Issue Waivers

Tropical Storm Idalia, currently located between Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba, is expected to strengthen into a major hurricane before it hits the Gulf Coast of Florida by mid-week.

Hurricane watches are in effect for most of Florida’s western coast, including parts of the Panhandle. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), “the risk continues to increase for life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds” in these areas. Areas of flash and urban flooding are also expected across western Florida, as well as southern Georgia, Tuesday into Wednesday, followed by portions of the eastern Carolinas in the days after.

As reported by the NHC, storm surge of seven to 11 feet is forecast from the Chassahowitzka River north to Aucilla River. Storm surge of four to nine feet can be expected in the surrounding coastal towns. In all, water levels will likely rise at least one foot from Dry Tortugas and the Florida Keys up to Indian Pass.

Hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall are expected across the westernmost points of Cuba. Idalia currently has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.

Currently, of the “big four” airlines, only Delta and Southwest have issued an advisory due to Idalia.

For Delta, those with travel planned August 28-31 to any of the 17 listed airports—including Orlando, Tampa, Key West and Jacksonville, FL; Charleston, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach, SC; and Savannah, GA—travel can be rebooked with the fare difference waived if the rebooked travel occurs on or before September 3. If travel is not able to be rescheduled within this timeframe, customers may cancel their reservation and apply any unused value of the ticket toward the purchase of a new ticket for a period of one year from the original ticket issuance.

Travelers on Southwest with travel on August 29-31 to its list of nine airports who want to alter their travel plans may do so in the original class of service or travel standby (within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original cities) without paying additional charges.

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