Tampa International Airport is shutting down Tuesday ahead of Tropical Storm Idalia, which is forecast to become a major hurricane before hitting Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Commercial flights will stop after midnight, the airport announced Monday. The airport will be closed to visitors and cannot operate as an official shelter.
The airport is closing early to secure jet bridges, equipment and aircraft before the storm is expected to hit Wednesday, the statement said. Some private and cargo flights will continue flying early Tuesday morning but all air traffic will stop by 7 a.m., the airport said.
As it’s along the coast of Tampa Bay, one of the airport’s biggest concerns is storm surge. Weather experts expect between four to seven feet of surge, airport operations director John Tiliacos said in a press conference Monday afternoon.
“A significant amount of water would certainly slow down our recovery and reopening and that’s why it’s so critical that we are suspending operations when we are,” Tiliacos said.
Travelers should check with their airlines regarding flight delays and cancellations.
Tampa International said it expects to reopen Thursday morning but could stay closed longer depending on when officials can assess storm damages or if road closures prevent opening.
St. Pete–Clearwater International Airport has not announced if it is closing yet but is monitoring the storm.
This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.
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