December 1, 2022

Florida airports were reporting flight delays, cancellations and even closures ahead of the hurricane force winds expected along much of the state beginning Wednesday morning.

Airports in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Orlando had announced the grounding of all their flights as precautionary measures, while others were reporting delays in parts of the state outside the hurricane’s path and its associated watches and warnings.

Tampa International Airport — which was in the middle of the hurricane’s projected path as of Tuesday evening — had canceled more incoming flights than any other airport in the United States as of Tuesday afternoon, registering 146 cancellations and 15 delays for the day, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware. It suspended all operations as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.

At a news briefing on Tuesday morning, John Tiliacos, the airport’s executive vice president, had said the closure would affect 450 flights a day. A team of about 120 employees have volunteered to ride out the storm at the airport, he said.

The airport is close to Tampa Bay, so storm surge and flooding are a top concern, he said. “We are talking potentially a lot of water that could be on our airport,” Mr. Tiliacos said. He added, “To my knowledge, we have never had a storm of this magnitude that’s impacted us.”

The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport closed even earlier, as of 1 p.m. on Tuesday, with the last flight scheduled to depart at 11:22 a.m. Michelle Routh, a spokeswoman, said the airport, located near the waters of the Old Tampa Bay by the state’s west coast, was in a mandatory evacuation zone and that it would reopen when it “is deemed safe for operations.”

The Orlando International Airport, in central Florida, said it would close on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., out of “an abundance of caution,” said Carolyn Fennell, a spokeswoman.

“We’ve begun the operations of preparedness for the storm, tying down or removing any equipment on the ground that could become a projectile,” she said. “A lot of our terminals have glass doors, so we put sandbags there, and then we are communicating with the airlines.”

Ms. Fennell said a crew would ride out the storm, staying behind for critical maintenance, but most employees were being sent home.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport said there were delays and cancellations because of the storm, but the airport was still operating. The airport had seen 22 cancellations and 119 delays as of Tuesday afternoon, said Arlene Satchell, a spokeswoman.

Miami International Airport remained open Tuesday, with officials saying that the Federal Aviation Administration and individual airlines would determine whether to operate flights. The Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports were advising passengers to confirm their flight statuses with their airlines before arriving at the terminals.

Joseph W. Lopano, chief executive of the public authority that manages the Tampa airport, said that airlines were also moving aircraft to safer places on Tuesday. He said the economic impact of closing the airport would be “in the millions.” He added, “unfortunately Ian is not giving us a choice.”

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