Hurricane Ian temporarily downgraded to tropical storm; airports and theme parks in Florida remain closed, cruises canceled

Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.

Hurricane Ian has weakened to a tropical storm as of Thursday morning after hitting the southwest coast of Florida as a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday afternoon. Many parts of Fort Myers and Naples are underwater, with 2 million people reporting power outages as of this morning, according to government and weather officials.

As of mid-Thursday, Ian is expected to become a hurricane again on Friday, heading toward South Carolina, per the National Weather Service.

At 11am EDT the center of #Ian has emerged into the western Atlantic & is expected to become a hurricane again this evening & make landfall as a hurricane on Friday. Hurricane Warning issued for the entire coast of South Carolina.

— National Weather Service (@NWS) September 29, 2022

Emergency officials in Florida have urged those throughout the state to be on alert, with Gov. Ron DeSantis telling residents to check this site for advice.

Since Monday, Ian has had a severe impact on travel, with more than 2,100 flights into or within the U.S. canceled Wednesday and another 2,000 canceled Thursday, according to FlightAware.

Several Florida airports have closed as a result, including Tampa International Airport (TPA), which suspended its operations at 5 p.m. Tuesday; the airport announced on Thursday afternoon that it plans to reopen Friday.


☑️ TPA sustained no major damage from #HurricaneIan

? We remain closed to the public today

⏰ If you are flying out on Friday, arrive at least 2 hours early

✈️ Check directly with your airline for flight status updates

— Tampa International Airport ✈️ (@FlyTPA) September 29, 2022

Additionally, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) reopened Thursday morning.

Orlando International Airport (MCO), Melbourne Orlando International Airport (MLB), Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) and Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) were also closed as of Thursday. Those that remain open — specifically Miami International Airport (MIA), Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) — have urged travelers to check the status of their flights with airlines as close to scheduled departure as possible, warning of likely delays and cancelations.

⚠️ #StormAdvisory (09/29/22) ⚠️
MIA is open. We are still experiencing cancellations and delays as a result of #HurricaneIan. If you are traveling today, we recommend following up with your airline before heading to the airport.

— Miami Int’l Airport (@iflymia) September 29, 2022

Some airlines issued and expanded travel alerts ahead of the storm, allowing even those with normally unchangeable tickets to alter their itineraries to avoid or leave unsafe areas.

Area theme parks, including Disney World, have also announced storm-related closures.

While the storm has surged along Florida’s Gulf Coast, flooding from the heavy rain is expected in Central Florida too, per the National Hurricane Center.

Over the weekend, President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency for Florida ahead of the storm, with emergency management officials urging residents to begin preparations.

This morning the State Emergency Operations Center is activated to a Level 1 to respond to Tropical Storm #Ian. During this full-scale activation, @FLSERT is fully staffed by Division personnel and all Emergency Support Functions.

— FL Division of Emergency Management (@FLSERT) September 25, 2022

Related: Florida airports announce hurricane-related closures

Flights disrupted by Hurricane Ian

We’re working around the clock to care for customers affected by #HurricaneIan. If you need help, travel options are available at Stay safe, everyone!

— americanair (@AmericanAir) September 27, 2022


In addition to the mentioned airport closures, other flights to and from the region can be affected. Given the storm’s projected path into South Carolina, airlines are warning about possible delays or cancellations at Charleston International Airport (CHS), Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) and Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) through the weekend.


Most of the major U.S. airlines flying to Florida — including the nation’s four largest, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines — have issued travel alerts for destinations most likely to be affected by Ian. The alerts include Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and airports across Florida.

The three legacy U.S. carriers already have, as a general policy, waived change fees on domestic flights and those originating in the U.S. and in many cases the Caribbean — excluding basic economy tickets. However, during a travel alert, even those with basic economy tickets can change their itineraries if their travel plans fall under the alert.

Weather #Alert No. 5: #FLL is open & operational. ​However, there are still some flight cancellations & delays today after #HurricaneIan‘s landfall over Florida’s Gulf Coast on 9/28/22. So if you’re flying soon, check your airline for status updates before coming to the airport.

— Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Int’l Airport (FLL) (@FLLFlyer) September 29, 2022

Other carriers serving Florida— including Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Allegiant Air — also issued waivers.

Be sure to check the specific terms of the airline’s alert so you’ll know your deadline for both rebooking and beginning your travels.

“All of these airports may see flight delays related to these weather conditions,” Chris Citrola of the Federal Aviation Administration said in a video posted to social media Monday, regarding Ian’s effects on air operations in Florida.

Hurricane #Ian could affect travel in parts of Florida and the Southeast this week. Remember to check with your airline for your flight status, for general airport delay information visit Find our weather resources at #FlySmart

— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) September 26, 2022

 “We’ll be continually watching that very closely to make sure we’re doing the best we can for keeping everybody safe and out of those airports when that impact does happen,” Citrola added.

The FAA is encouraging those with air travel plans in the coming days to be in close touch with their airline. For that reason, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re quite familiar with your airline’s app.

#HurricaneIan will continue to cause flight delays and cancellations today. Multiple airports are closed. Check with your airline about the status of your flight before leaving home. Visit for airport delays and closures. #Ian #Florida

— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) September 28, 2022

Delta warned that weather conditions in Florida could disrupt air travel out of the Northeast. There are, of course, many flights between Florida and key Northeast destinations like New York and Boston, and flight disruptions in Florida can easily ripple into other parts of the U.S.

Allegiant has bases in Florida cities Sarasota and St. Petersburg which could see additional disruptions over the coming days.

Air, sea and space logistics affected

As residents and visitors in the western Caribbean and Florida prepared for the effects of Ian, the impending bad weather affected a variety of air, sea and space operations in Florida.

Along the state’s Space Coast, NASA announced over the weekend it would not move forward with its next launch attempt for Artemis I, the twice-scrubbed unmanned mission to the moon.

NASA’s Artemis I rocket sits on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center on Saturday. SOPA IMAGES/LIGHTROCKET/GETTY IMAGES

After mechanical issues marred a Labor Day weekend launch attempt, NASA had been eyeing a potential Sept. 27 launch. It’s unclear when the next launch attempt may happen.

Thanks to our partners at @NOAA, @SpaceForceDoD, & @NHC_Atlantic and their high-quality forecasting, we’re standing down from our Sept 27 #Artemis launch attempt. To protect our employees and the integrated stack, we will begin configuring the vehicle to roll back. (1/2)

— Jim Free (@JimFree) September 24, 2022

Airport officials at Tampa International Airport said damage assessments following the storm will begin as soon as it’s safe. They noted they will coordinate the airport’s reopening with partners “based on roadway safety, facility readiness, and staffing.”

Meanwhile, Orlando International Airport ceased operations at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. Additionally, the airport is holding off on some planned changes sparked by the opening of its new Terminal C, airport officials announced. Namely, the airport is postponing JetBlue and Caribbean Airlines’ move to the new terminal because of uncertainty over what operations might look like over the next several days.

Cruise line issues

A day after Hurricane Ian slammed into the Florida coast as a Category 4 storm, three home ports for cruise ships in the state — Port Tampa Bay, Jacksonville’s JAXPort and Port Canaveral — remain closed to marine traffic.

The closures have forced five cruise lines to cancel voyages out of the three ports scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

At the same time, two of Florida’s three largest ports — PortMiami and Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades — are back open with cruise departures scheduled to take place as normal over the next few days.

The three ports that are closed were the closest to the track that Ian took as it barreled into Florida and crossed the state on Wednesday and Thursday. The U.S. Coast Guard and port workers at the three ports will do damage assessments over the next day or two to determine if they are safe to reopen. But no timetable for a reopening for any of the ports has been set.

Related: The latest on cruise ship cancellations, delays

Theme park reopenings

All Orlando- and Tampa-area theme parks closed temporarily in preparation for Hurricane Ian. Now that Central Florida is on the other side of the storm and moving into the damage assessment and cleanup phase, local theme parks are reopening in accordance with prioritizing the safety of staff and guests.

Here is a current reopening timeline for Central Florida theme parks:

Disney World will begin a phased reopening on Friday, Sept. 30.
Universal Orlando plans to reopen on Friday, Sept. 30, but is currently conducting inspections and asked guests to stay tuned for more updates.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay plans to reopen Saturday, Oct. 1.
SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando and Discovery Cove plan to reopen Saturday, Oct. 1.
Peppa Pig Theme Park Florida plans to reopen Saturday, Oct. 1.
Legoland Florida plans to reopen Saturday, Oct. 1.

Guests walking in the rain at Disney World. GREGG NEWTON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Related: Here’s what happens when a hurricane comes to Disney World 

If you currently have tickets affected by the closures, some parks are giving refunds and others are automatically extending expiration dates. Check with the park you had plans to attend for details on ticket extensions, changes and cancellations.

Canceling a trip and travel insurance

A palm tree blows in the wind this month in Bermuda as Hurricane Fiona approached. SEBASTIEN VUAGNAT/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

If you’re considering traveling to a destination that may potentially be affected in the coming days, there are important questions to consider, as TPG discussed with a meteorologist when Hurricane Fiona gained strength:

If you’re currently at a destination that may be affected by the storm system, what type of backup travel arrangements might you need if you want to leave earlier than planned?
If you have a trip to the potentially affected region planned in the coming days, do you have a travel insurance policy that you purchased prior to the storm being named, and what are the terms? How long do you have to decide whether to cancel? (Once a storm is named, it’s generally too late to buy a policy that will cover your expenses.)

Answering these questions with an eye on advance planning can be critical both to your safety as you travel and in protecting the investment you’ve made in a trip.

Bottom line

BULLETIN: Hurricane #Ian now approaching Category 5 status with sustained winds exploding upwards over the past three hours to 155 mph. This is significantly higher than was projected in recent days. Landfall along Florida coast imminent. Damage could be “catastrophic,” says NHC.

— Gene Sloan (@CruiseLog) September 28, 2022

Hurricane Ian has already disrupted travel, but the effects are expected to grow in the coming days as airports, airlines and other travel companies assess the damage. This is a catastrophic storm, and the impact will likely be felt for weeks or even months.

As residents and those across the state deal with the storm, now is the time to look ahead, whether you’re planning to travel to an area that might be affected or looking to end your trip early in an area that is in the path of the storm.

Additional reporting by Clint Henderson, Caroline Tanner, Tarah Chieffi and Summer Hull.

Read more:

Cruising during hurricane season: What to know
How pilots deal with tropical storms
TPG’s comprehensive guide to independent travel insurance
What to do when your flight is canceled or delayed