Florida Airports Shut Down as Hurricane Michael Strengthens to Cat 4

(Graphic by the National Hurricane Center)

Airports in Florida are shutting down as Hurricane Michael is expected to hit the Panhandle region later today.

The airports Destin – Fort Walton Beach, Panama City, Pensacola and Tallahassee, Florida, are all closed at least through today. The resumption of operations will be based on airport and roadway conditions.

According to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Michael is approximately 90 miles southwest of Panama City, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph – making it a category 4 hurricane. Some additional strengthening is possible before the eye of the storm makes landfall in the Florida Panhandle later today. After that, the storm is expected to move northeast across the southeastern United States tonight and Thursday and then off the mid-Atlantic coast away from the United States on Friday.

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A hurricane warning is in effect for an area ranging from the Alabama – Florida border to Suwannee River, Florida, while a tropical storm warning is in effect for an area ranging from the Alabama – Florida border to the Mississippi – Alabama border; from Suwanee River to Chassahowitzka, Florida; and from north of Fernandina Beach, Florida, to Surf City, North Carolina. A tropical storm watch is in effect for an area ranging from Chassahowitzka to Anna Maria Island, Florida, including Tampa Bay; from the Mississippi – Alabama border to the mouth of the Pearl River; from Surf City to Duck, North Carolina; and in Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.

Cruise Updates

A number of cruise lines have made itinerary adjustments to avoid the path of Hurricane Michael.

A spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Line tells Travel Agent that the Carnival Triumph, which departs New Orleans Tuesday, will reverse its port calls, stopping on Wednesday in Yucatan (Progreso) and Thursday in CozumelCarnival Glory, which is currently sailing a seven-day Caribbean itinerary that left Miami on Saturday, will cancel its call in Grand Cayman on Tuesday and remain at sea. Carnival Freedom, which departed Saturday from Galveston on a seven-day Caribbean cruise, has cancelled its call in Mahogany BayMonday and will remain at sea. The ship will call in Cozumel Tuesday and Belize on Wednesday. Carnival Victory, which departed Monday from Miami on a four-day cruise, is reversing its order of port calls, spending a day at sea Tuesday and visiting Key West on Thursday. Wednesday’s stop in Cozumel remains unchanged. Carnival Miracle, which departed Tampa on Sunday, will cancel its planned call in Cozumel. Carnival Paradise, currently on a five-day cruise out of Tampa, will reverse its scheduled port calls, calling at Cozumel Wednesday and Grand Cayman on Thursday.

Norwegian Cruise Line has modified the Norwegian Getaway’s itinerary to call in Falmouth, Jamaica, on October 9 and Grand Cayman on October 10 before returning to its regularly scheduled route.

A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean tells Travel Agent that the cruise line is monitoring the path of the storm and will advise guests and travel partners of any itinerary changes.

Air Travel Updates

Several major airlines have issued flight change waivers due to the storm.

Guests scheduled to fly through Gulf Coast airports on American Airlines through October 11 can rebook through October 14 between the same city pair in the same cabin (or pay the difference). Guests can also delay their trip after October 14 within one year of their original ticket date, but a difference in fare will apply. 

Delta is allowing guests set to fly through October 11 to rebook through October 14, with the new ticket to be reissued on or before that date.

United Airlines is allowing guests scheduled to fly through October 11 to rebook through October 18 in the originally ticketed cabin and between the original city pair. Guests can also rebook after October 18 within one year of the date the ticket was issued, or change their departure or destination city, but a difference in fare may apply.

Frontier Airlines is allowing guests scheduled to fly through October 11 to rebook through October 31. Origin and destination cities may be changed.

On JetBlueguests scheduled to fly October 10 through Tampa and October 11 - 12 through Atlanta, Charleston, Jacksonville and Savannah to rebook through October 16. 

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