ST. LOUIS – Idalia, now a tropical storm, has caused a mess at airports coast-to-coast, as flights were canceled from Florida and the East Coast just days before the long holiday weekend.
All flights from Tampa International Airport were canceled Tuesday as Idalia barreled toward the Florida coast.
Idalia made landfall at 6:45 a.m. central time along the coast of the Florida Big Bend near Keaton Beach. It strengthened to a Category 3 hurricane around 2:00 a.m.
The system rapidly intensified Tuesday and overnight, reaching maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour early Wednesday morning, moving up to a Category 4 storm and then fluctuating back down to a Category 3 regardless of the strength it made landfall at.
More than half the counties in Florida are under a state of emergency.
According to flight tracking websites, Southwest Airlines was the most affected carrier, with 200 cancellations. But United, Delta, and American Airlines were also impacted.
“I was worried. We were leaving today, and it was landfall, so we were nervous, but I think it cleared out,” Jeff Mastroianni said. “I’m good. I’m going to the Panhandle, so I’m good.”
With several airports in Florida closed, travelers at St. Louis Lambert International Airport and elsewhere were left to wonder if their holiday plans would be put on hold.
“We are headed to Fort Lauderdale, leaving out of Miami for a cruise, and my granddaughter’s first time going, so we are not impacted right now,” Charlotte Boyd said. “It looks good and Miami looks good. We are not impacted.”
Major U.S. airlines are issuing travel waivers allowing passengers flying in or out of impacted airports to rebook without paying the fare difference.
“We are headed to Panama City, Florida. We were concerned thinking about the people in Florida hurricane, but we watched the weather…and we wanted to make sure that the storm went west,” Chris Dulle said.