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Hurricane Ian disrupts business and travel in Florida

Hurricane Ian threatens Tampa Bay area
Residents in Tampa Bay area preparing for possible Category 4 hurricane heading their way 05:20

Hurricane Ian is disrupting businesses and travel in Florida as it barreled toward the state's west coast Tuesday, grounding flights and forcing Tampa and Orlando to close its international airports.

Tampa International Airport officials said they are suspending all flight operations beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday to prepare the airfield and terminals for the storm by securing jet bridges, planes and other equipment. Orlando International Airport will cease operations beginning Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

"It's a very dangerous system," Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano said in a press conference. "With the storm and the intensity of the winds we will close today at 5 p.m."

Lopano noted that airlines had already cancelled local flights and moved aircraft to safer areas. By midday, a total of 146 flights into or out of Tampa airport had been cancelled, according to FlightAware, a real-time flight tracking website. Another seven flights were delayed. 

"To my knowledge, we have never had a storm of this magnitude," John Tiliacos, executive vice president of airport operations said at the press conference.

Hurricane Ian becomes major Category 3 storm as it makes its way to Florida 02:41

Tampa International Airport operates about 450 flights a day, and it's unclear how quickly it will be able to reopen. It is located close to Tampa Bay, with Hurricane Ian expected to produce 10-15 feet of storm surge plus 15-20 inches of rain, as well as high tides. 

Lopano said he expects the financial toll of shutting down for a couple days to run into "the millions." 

"And unfortunately Ian is not giving us a choice. And so we'll just make it as painless as we can," he added. 

Ian threatens Disney

Walt Disney World in Orlando announced Tuesday evening that its theme parks, including Magic Kingdom Park and Epcot, will be closed Wednesday and Thursday. It is also halting some of its hotel operations, closing the Copper Creek Cabins at Disney's Wilderness, Lodge, the Treehouse Villas at Disney's Saratoga Springs and the Bungalows at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort in anticipation of Ian potentially wreaking havoc. 

"Walt Disney World Resort is preparing for necessary operational adjustments based on the latest information from the National Weather Service," the company said in a statement on its website. 

Lost oil production

Hurricane Ian is also disrupting the energy sector, with oil producers BP and Chevron halting production at offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Florida fire chief talks evacuations ahead of Hurricane Ian 03:26

On Monday, BP said it had evacuated personnel from its Na Kika platform, which produces 130,000 barrels of oil per day as well as 550 million cubic feet per day of natural gas. It is also cutting production at its Thunder Horse platform, which produces 250,000 barrels of oil per day, as well as 200 million cubic feet per day of natural gas. 

Chevron also said it is removing personnel from its Petronius and Blind Faith platforms and temporarily suspending operations at the facilities. Combined, they produce around 120,000 barrels of oil per day. 

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