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Florida travel: Is it safe to fly as Hurricane Idalia hits the US state?

Florida travel: Is it safe to fly as Hurricane Idalia hits the US state?

Tropical Storm Idalia, now officially classed as a hurricane, is hurtling towards the US state of Florida, where hundreds of residents have been ordered to leave their homes.

A state of emergency was issued in 46 of Florida’s 67 counties, a wide patch that stretches across the northern half of the state from the Gulf Coast to the Atlantic Coast. Across this area, residents have been heading to shelters and loading up on sandbags.

Several counties are at risk of life-threatening floods, and Florida governor Ron DeSantis said of the evacuations in a press conference on 28 August: “We can rebuild someone’s home. You can’t unring the bell, though, if somebody stays in harm’s way and does battle with Mother Nature.”

Idalia has already brought misery to Cuba, where thousands have been evacuated from their homes while faced with heavy rain and flooding.

Those who have upcoming trips to Florida may well be wondering if it’s safe to visit the state right now. Here’s what we know so far.

Where will be affected by Hurricane Idalia?

After charting a path over the Gulf of Mexico, Idalia is expected to curve northeast toward the west coast of Florida before making landfall on Wednesday – before which it will “rapidly intensify into an extremely dangerous major hurricane”, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

Nearly the entire Gulf Coast – as well as Key West and the Lower Florida Keys – are under some form of hurricane, tropical storm and storm surge watches and warnings. Some of Florida’s largest cities, such as Tampa and Orlando, may well be affected. The US National Weather Service said that coastal areas as far south as the Florida Keys could see storm surges as Idalia approaches.

Can I fly into Florida?

The extreme weather is already causing disruption for airports. Tampa International Airport has now closed, and will remain shut until the hurricane passes – Thursday morning as been mooted as a possible opening time.

Southwest Florida International Airport, near Fort Myers, has not shared any closure plans but told USA Today that they are monitoring the weather.

Two other major airports – Miami International and Orlando International – have not announced any plans to close, and could end up being outside the hurricane’s main path.

A number of US airlines, including Delta, United and Southwest, are being…

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