The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport will close at 11 a.m. Friday because of Pinellas County evacuation orders.
The airport, which is located 14700 Terminal Parkway in Clearwater, is in flood zone A, which is under a mandatory evacuation, according to a press release.
Allegiant Air, the regional airport’s dominant carrier, will continue with flights scheduled before 11 a.m. on Friday. After that, all flights will be suspended and cancelled, said Michele Routh, a spokeswoman at the airport.
It is unclear when the airport will resume operations, Routh said, but it won’t be until at least weather conditions improve and evacuation orders are lifted. Passengers should check in with the airlines about rescheduling flights.
Hurricane Irma has maintained its category status as it passes near the Turks and Caicos Islands and heads for the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds near 175 mph.
Irma is located about 40 miles south of Grand Turk Island and 65 miles north-northwest of Great Inagua Island and is moving west-northwest at 16 mph.
The eye of should continue to move between Hispaniola and the Turks and Caicos Islands this evening. The core of the hurricane will then move between the north coast of Cuba and the Bahamas during the next day or two.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles (295 km).
- Times staff
Airbnb wants to help people in Florida who are being displaced because of Hurricane Irma.
The online home-sharing website’s disaster response program allows residents who’ve had to evacuate from their homes and emergency relief workers and volunteers who are coming into disaster areas to help, find temporary housing with local Airbnb hosts free of charge.
Airbnb hosts in the the following Florida and Georgia communities are eligible to take part in the program and list their homes for free to evacuees and emergency relief workers.
In Florida: Leon County, Calhoun County, Franklin County, Jackson County, Liberty County, Gadsden County, Gulf County, Wakulla County, Madison County, Jefferson County and Taylor County.
In Georgia: Decatur County, Grady County and Thomas County.
The free listings are available in these areas until Sept. 28. In addition to the nightly rate, all taxes and fees are also waived. Available rooms can be found at airbnb.com/disaster.
Airbnb hosts who participate will not receive any payment. Hosts can choose how long they’d like to offer their homes or rooms in their homes for free during the given timeframe.
The idea for Airbnb’s disaster relief program began in 2012 in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and has since grown into a global disaster response initiative, according to a press release. The program has been activated 75 times around the world, including during Hurricane Matthew in Florida last year.
— Justine Griffin, Times staff writer
Most Pasco County government offices will be open Friday, though some non-essential services may close if weather deteriorates. Scheduled closings include all public schools, the courts, offices of Clerk & Comptroller Paula S. O’Neil, elderly nutrition sites, and animal services, which will close at 11 a.m.
County parks and the offices of Tax Collector Mike Fasano will close Saturday. County-owned SunWest Park is closed until further notice. City of New Port Richey parks will close Sunday.
The Pasco County Public Transportation buses will operate, rider should expect delays. The bus service will cease if winds reach 39 mph.
The county also reversed an earlier decision and opted to allow commercial haulers to provide regularly scheduled curbside trash and recycling pick-up service Friday and Saturday.
As Hurricane Irma continues to barrel toward Florida, many Tampa Bay area businesses are packing up and closing up shop. There are a few outliers — retailers from Publix to Walmart will stay open as long as possible to continue selling supplies to residents who won't evacuate. (Publix is closing stores in South Florida, however.)
The Florida Gators' home game against Northern Colorado has been canceled because of Hurricane Irma.
"As the Hurricane's track has approached the state of Florida, it's become obvious that playing a football game is not the right thing to do," said Florida Athletics Director Scott Stricklin. "The focus of our state and region needs to be on evacuations and relief efforts. There is a tremendous amount of stress currently on the roads of this state, and the availability of gas, water and other supplies are at critical levels. Playing a college football game Saturday would only add to that stress.
"Gainesville is also close to some of Florida's heaviest traffic points this week, specifically Interstate 75, which is a key statewide evacuation route."