With maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, Hermine was upgraded from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane Thursday afternoon, squashing many people's plans to squeeze in one last vacation before summer officially ends. As Hermine bears down on Florida — forecasters are predicting the hurricane will make landfall sometime between Thursday evening and early Friday — heavy rains and hurricane-force winds have begun affecting flights to and from Florida. More likely than not, Hurricane Hermine will likely disrupt flights to areas of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina over the weekend.
Even while still a tropical storm, it seemed inevitable that Hurricane Hermine would disrupt flights in and out of Florida and neighboring parts of the Southeast. However, news Hermine had strengthened into a hurricane sparked preemptive cancellations at airports across the state. In anticipation of additional cancellations, American Airlines, Delta, United, and Southwest Airlines — the nation's four biggest airlines — were allowing passengers traveling to or from affected airports to take advantage of flexible rebooking or cancellation. JetBlue, Silver, and Spirit airlines also reportedly issued fee waivers to storm-affected travelers, according to USA Today. Waivers from all seven airlines will be good for flights scheduled into or out of affected cities in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina from Sept. 1 to Sept. 3.
Flights to Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers, and all South Florida airports from Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina were grounded temporarily Thursday evening, according to a series of alerts posted to the airport's official Twitter account. On Thursday, FlightAware, a flight-tracking website, showed cancellations at Florida's Tallahassee International Airport and Jacksonville International Airport. Roughly 10 flights into Tallahassee International and another 17 at Jacksonville International were reported as canceled by early Thursday evening. Farther south, the Palm Beach Post reported 13 flights scheduled for either departure or arrival at the Palm Beach International Airport had been delayed due to Hurricane Hermine.
With Hurricane Hermine expected to hit Florida's Gulf Coast before moving north-northeast into Georgia and along the coast of the Carolinas, airports throughout the area are advising travelers to check the status of their flight before heading to the airport as more cancellations and delays are imminent as conditions worsen.
For those in the Southeast (or even those looking to head there), Hurricane Hermine will likely put a serious damper on any Labor Day travel plans. Expect the number of canceled or delayed flights to increase as the the weekend wears on and the storm moves through the area.