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After ripping through the Caribbean, major Hurricane Matthew is approaching the Florida coast. Based on the latest forecast, landfall is expected to occur overnight Friday morning just north of West Palm Beach.

The storm is expected to strengthen even more today. The forecast calls for the storm to reach category 4 (out of 5) hurricane strength before landfall. For reference, Hurricane Katrina made landfall as a category 3, and Hurricane Andrew — which caused $25 billion in damage to Miami in 1992 — made landfall as a category 5 hurricane.

Airline Thursday
Cancellations
% of Flights
Cancelled
Friday
Cancellations
% of Flights
Cancelled
American Airlines 439 14% 287 9%
JetBlue 222 23% 211 22%
Southwest 145 3% 267 7%
Delta 119 3% 9 0%
Spirit 119 27% 115 27%
United 78 3% 59 2%
Allegiant Air 63 21% 0 0%
Envoy Air 63 6% 29 3%
Republic 57 8% 15 2%
Frontier 38 12% 46 16%

Not surprisingly, the hurricane is having a major impact on flights to and from Florida and the Bahamas. As of this morning, FlightAware.com has already recorded 2,525 cancellations for flights scheduled today and tomorrow. 379 of these cancellations are at Miami (MIA) alone, accounting for half of today’s scheduled flights. Fort Lauderdale (FLL) has already had 315 cancellations (66% of today’s flights), but it’s going to get worse as FLL is expected to close at 10:30am.

The airline hardest hit by these cancellations is American Airlines, which has one of its major hubs currently under a hurricane warning. 726 of American Airlines’ flights have already been cancelled for the next two days, accounting for 14% of today’s flights and 9% of tomorrow’s scheduled flights. The airline most impacted percentage-wise is Spirit, with a 27% of systemwide scheduled flights already cancelled.

If you’re in the path of the storm, be sure to prepare as much as possible this morning. Pay attention to local evacuation orders. Remember that 75% of hurricane deaths are from storm surge or other flooding. One of the most important things you can do is find shelter on high ground before the storm hits.

Hurricane Matthew expected path.
Hurricane Matthew’s expected path and current warnings.

If you’re currently being affected by the 1,000s of flight cancellations, check with your airline before you head to the airport. Many airlines already have travel waivers in place to allow you to reschedule your flights or reroute through airports not affected by the storm.

Even if your flights aren’t delayed or cancelled yet, you might want to utilize existing travel waivers to get yourself out of the path of the storm. The longer that you wait to rebook your flights means less options you’ll eventually have, as other travelers are booked into currently empty seats.

Check your airline’s current travel waiver here:

If you’re currently on a trip and stranded away from home by the storm, check the credit card insurance benefits for the card that you used to book this trip. You may be eligible for expense reimbursements for extra hotel nights, ground transportation and other necessities.

Featured image by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images.

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