With Florida under hurricane watch, here’s how to change travel plans

Personal Finance

Al Diaz | Miami Herald | Getty Images

Tourists Erica Bourke of Australia and Jacob Botha of South Africa wait for a Greyhound bus on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017 as they evacuate Key Largo in anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Irma.

It’s still too early to say what impact Hurricane Irma could have on the United States, although it’s looking more likely the storm will make landfall near Miami late Saturday or Sunday, said meteorologist Paul Walsh, director of weather strategy at IBM Global Business Services.

“Every hour that goes by, the cone is tightening a little bit,” he said. “The confidence goes up with every forecast.”

It’s still possible the storm could move a little to the east, bringing it up along the coast into Georgia and South Carolina instead of through Florida, Walsh said.

“It doesn’t need to go far to have a dramatically different impact,” he said.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Monday to prepare the state for Irma. On Tuesday he took additional steps, including activating National Guard members to assist with storm preparations and suspending tolls statewide to make it easier for residents to evacuate.

“While the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared,” Scott said in a statement Monday. “This state of emergency allows our emergency-management officials to act swiftly in the best interest of Floridians without the burden of bureaucracy or red tape.”

The ease with which you can shift plans depends on where and when you’re traveling. (See infographic below for tips.)

Major airlines — including American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United — have issued travel advisories related to Hurricane Irma and are waiving the change fees for travelers to reschedule their flights. Amid traveler complaints of high flight prices, some are also adding flight capacity or capping fares for travelers seeking to leave Florida ahead of the hurricane.

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