Hurricane Florence: Hundreds of flights cancelled, Amtrak pulls trains and roads gridlocked with evacuees ahead of monster storm
The National Hurricane Center said that the storm is set to make landfall in the two states as a major hurricane on Friday morning, will bring a disastrous amount of rainfall.
Hundreds of flights and train schedules were cancelled on Wednesday, plunging North and South Carolina in a travel chaos hours ahead of fast-approaching Hurricane Florence, as residents gridlocked the roads with vehicles in an attempt to flee the region.
The National Hurricane Center said that the storm is set to make landfall in the two states as a major hurricane on Friday morning, will bring a disastrous amount of rainfall, causing a strom surge and inland flooding. Millions of residents are evacuating from the coastal regions of the states, as the North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said that Hurricane Florence is a storm the likes of which the residents have never seen before. "This storm is ... nothing like you've ever seen. Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don't bet your life on riding out a monster," Cooper said.
Reports state that a total of 967 flights have been cancelled over the next three days as of 2.30 pm (ET) - 230 on Wednesday, 504 on Thursday and 233 on Friday. According to Flight Aware, over 1,600 fights were also delayed on Wednesday. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines were among the carriers which cancelled their flights starting Wednesday to and from the hurricane zone.
Flight Aware spokesperson Sara Orsi, while talking to USA Today, said: "We expect those numbers to rise significantly over the next 24 hours, as the storm approaches and airlines finalize their operations plans. It's really difficult to speculate this far out – however, based on current models, it's likely that the biggest impact will be to the Charlotte airport, which is an American Airlines hub. If the storm continues its path inland, we could see disruption at Hartsfield-Jackson Intl (ATL)."
The busiest airport in the Carolinas — Charleston International Airport— is scheduled to close on Thursday and will not resume operations until Saturday at the earliest. The airport tweeted that it expected to close runways by Wednesday midnight. Meanwhile, Amtrack has also stopped its trains running in Virginia and all the stops south of Washington, D.C. until Monday, according to the Daily Mail.
Latest reports say that the storm has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm as it approachd North and South Carolina. Nearly 25 million peope are said to be at risk from the hurricane, which was deemed "potentially catastrophic", and could cause nearly $170 billion worth of damage as it unleashes havoc in the states.
Some airlines, including Southwest, American, JetBlue and Delta have started to allow affected passengers to change their travel plans without the usual fees which comes with the rescheduling.
Reports state that nearly all the major highways in the region were also clogged on Wednesday as evacuees took to roads to flee. The eastbound lanes of multiple highways were closed to allow traffic to flow inland, according to reports.