Florida air travel shuts down ahead of Hurricane Irma

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Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm, had maximum sustained winds of 180 miles per hour as of 5 a.m. Thursday morning as it moved away from the northern coast of Puerto Rico and over the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

USF was scheduled to visit Connecticut, Florida was slated for a visit from Northern Colorado and Florida State was to play host to Louisiana-Monroe. It added a storm surge warning and extended watch areas along the east and west coasts.

Orlando International Airport closed Saturday and won't reopen to passenger traffic until after Hurricane Irma has passed, a damage assessment has been completed, necessary recovery efforts have been made and airlines are consulted to determine when best to resume operations. The earliest arrival of these winds is now expected around late Friday night/early Saturday morning. Airlines had earlier taken as many passengers as possible out of the path of the storm.

"It's a big storm", Masters said.

All commercial flights departed Sunday and the airport is secured and prepared for Irma, according to the airport's Twitter account.

This has led to widespread fears that the hurricane will bear down on Florida over the weekend.

Though McRae was anxious about possible flooding - many new neighborhoods in Homestead are built in low-lying areas - she said she did not expect a repeat of 1992, when Andrew tore the roof off her house and flattened entire neighborhoods nearby.

Scott said President Donald Trump has assured him Florida will get all the federal help it needs. Hurricane warnings were still in effect Saturday for parts of central Cuba.

The territories of St. Barthélemy, Barbuda and Anguilla had earlier been badly struck, with more than 50% of residents left homeless and without communication or power.

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The storm was initially expected to hit Miami directly.

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Airlines were expected to fly empty planes to the Fort Lauderdale airport later Monday to operate departing flights Tuesday morning, Meyer said.

And gas shortages are happening statewide.

Airlines had issued waivers for booked travelers to change their flights away from Irma's disruption.

Miami began feeling some of Irma's winds Saturday, with high-rise construction cranes sent spinning in circles. "There are still seats available out of Orlando and Tampa and Fort Myers, but those will become more scarce", said Davis.

As much as 20 inches of rain was predicted through Wednesday across the Florida peninsula and southeast Georgia, and maximum wind gusts above 100 miles per hour are expected in much of western Florida.

FEMA warned Alabama and North Carolina also to be on watch.