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Is the Orlando International Airport closing because of Hurricane Irma?
The answer is yes. It’s closing at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday.
“Following meetings with airline partners, MCO will cease commercial ops at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, 9/9/17,” the airport wrote on Twitter.
The airport wrote on September 7 that it “continues to monitor and prepare for the expected weekend arrival of Hurricane Irma. Following a series of meetings with our airline partners it has been determined that for the safety of the traveling public and our employees, Orlando International Airport will cease commercial operations at 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 9, 2017.”
The airport noted that it had last “ceased operations during Hurricane Matthew in October of 2016.” As of 4 p.m. on the 7th, the airport reported 24 scheduled flight cancellations, 13 arrivals and 11 departures. The airport said that 17 scheduled flights were cancelled for Friday, September 8, 2017, a number likely to change.
The airport reminds the public that it is not a hurricane shelter, and people should not come there to try to ride out the storm. People are advised to contact their individual airlines carriers for more information about their flights.
Orlando is in the Hurricane Irma forecast cone, although the storm’s path remains very unpredictable. The hurricane is increasingly likely to make landfall in southern Florida as a dangerous hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center’s September 7 evening update.
Hurricane conditions are now listed as possible in the September 7 forecast for Orlando as the hurricane’s path has shifted in forecasting models. You can see the updated weather page for Orlando here.
The 11 p.m. September 7 update on the hurricane from the National Hurricane Center said: “At 1100 PM EDT (0300 UTC), the eye of Hurricane Irma was located near latitude 21.3 North, longitude 72.4 West. Irma is moving toward the west-northwest near 16 mph (26 km/h), and this motion is expected to continue for the next day or two with a decrease in forward speed. A turn toward the northwest is expected by late Saturday. On the forecast track, the eye of Irma should continue to move westward away from the Turks and Caicos Islands and toward the southeastern Bahamas overnight. The core of the hurricane will then move between the north coast of Cuba and the Bahamas during the next day or two.”
The center added, “Maximum sustained winds are near 165 mph (270 km/h) with higher gusts. Irma is a category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 75 miles (120 km) from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles (295 km).”