Hurricane Florence may be a day away from making landfall somewhere along the Carolina coast, but the storm is already causing havoc on air travel.
More than 800 flights were canceled Wednesday in the Southeast by airlines anticipating the arrival of the Category 4 hurricane, according to FlightAware.
That number is likely to grow in the coming days as Florence nears the Atlantic coast between Thursday night and Saturday morning.
Of the flights already canceled, about 250 were scheduled for Wednesday, nearly all of them to and from airports in the Carolinas where a direct hit by Florence is still expected. The rest of the grounded flights were scheduled either for Thursday or Friday.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Palm Beach International Airport was reporting no cancellations for departing flights through Friday, according to FlightAware.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport reports that 15 total flights — arriving and departing — have been scrubbed through Friday. Each of the flights either was originating or arriving from airports in North Carolina or Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Miami International Airport reported two cancellations for Wednesday’s schedule and 10 more for Thursday and Friday. All the grounded flights are connected to airports in the Carolinas.
This time last year, airports in South Florida were dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which shut down air travel locally for several days. Fast-forward a year and area airports are bracing to deal with a hurricane again, although this one won’t have nearly the impact.
Although it remains uncertain exactly where Florence will make landfall, coastal airports like those in Wilmington, N.C., and Myrtle Beach, S.C., are likely to be among the first affected.
PBIA has several daily connecting flights to Wilmington and Myrtle Beach.
The storm is then expected to move inland, where busy North Carolina airports in Raleigh/Durham, Charlotte and Greensboro could be affected as well as those in Richmond and Norfolk in Virginia. Charlotte-Douglas International airport is American Airlines’ second-biggest hub.
Florence’s “cone of uncertainty” also includes the Washington, D.C., area. And if the storm were to jog to the southwest, flights into and out of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport could be affected as well.
The storm is expected to linger for days after making landfall, which could also affect the flight paths of planes heading north and south of the region affected by the hurricane. That will likely bring delays and possibly cancellations due to the restricted air space.
All major airlines have waived change fees for those traveling to airports that may be potentially affected by Florence. Airlines are warning that airports in areas impacted by Florence won’t be back in operation for several days.
Travelers are urged to contact their airlines for updated travel information before heading to the airport.
For those who hope to get to their destination by train may be out of luck. Amtrak announced Monday that it will shut down service to stops south of Washington starting Wednesday and running through the weekend. Amtrak will also waive charges for those looking to change their reservation.
Amtrak asks that customers check their train’s status.
Attempting to drive through the storm could bring its own problems. Flooding due to Hurricane Matthew in 2016 caused stretches of Interstate 95 in North Carolina to be shut down for days.