Airline and airport workers raced to get flights off the ground as Hurricane Irma swirled toward Florida on Friday, filling the skies above the state with planes.
“Florida is extremely busy right now as general aviation flights escape the storm,” said Ian Petchenik, a spokesman for Flightradar24, which tracks flights in real time and posted images online Friday showing the glut of flights.
The Federal Aviation Administration said that its air traffic control center in Miami, which handles high-altitude flights over the southern half of Florida and the Caribbean, had managed 8,107 flights on Thursday, about 2,000 more than on the Thursday before.
The agency said that it expected “increased volume” at airports in South Florida on Friday, too.
“The terminal is like spring break right now,” said Carolyn Fennell, a spokeswoman for Orlando International Airport. “This is not normally a busy time.”
Parking garages at the international airports in Miami, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale were full on Friday, as officials warned passengers of long lines, delays and cancellations. By midday, more than 875 flights scheduled to arrive or depart from those three airports, which are near Florida’s eastern shore, had been canceled.
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