Since the latest forecasts for Hurricane Irma have made it clear that remnants of the storm will also hit Georgia, there has been concern that the storm could also wreak havoc at the world’s busiest airport for passenger traffic: Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Although Irma will no longer be a hurricane by the time it reaches Atlanta, it will still be a tropical storm. The National Hurricane Service predicts that Irma will reach northwestern Georgia between Monday night and Tuesday morning.
If Irma remains a tropical storm by the time it reaches the Atlanta airport, winds could reach 73 miles per hour. As CNBC noted earlier this week, a Miami International Airport spokesman said air traffic control closes when there are sustained winds of 55 mph or higher.
Last year, over 104 million travelers passed through Atlanta, which is a major airport for connections to other destinations. In addition, 2,500 planes take off and land from there every day.
Atlanta is also a major hub for Delta Air Lines. The Washington Post reports that as much as 83 percent of the flights from Atlanta are Delta flights. Delta has already added Atlanta and other Georgia airports to its list of airports impacted by Irma.
This means if you have a fight to, from or through Atlanta between September 6 and September 17, you can get a refund and book a flight on or by September 30 with no change fees. You must change your ticket by September 30. You will have to pay the difference if your new tickets cost more than your previous ones though.
In addition to Atlanta, the other impacted Georgia airports are Albany, Augusta, Brunswick, Columbus, Savannah and Valdosta. To change your flights, click here to look up your itinerary at Delta.com.
The 2 p.m. ET public advisory from the NHC reports that Irma is now a Category 3 hurricane. It first made landfall at the Florida Keys, then made a second landfall at Naples.
The National Weather Service notes that there is a flash flood watch for Monday and Monday night in the airport area. There is also a Tropical Storm watch until further notice. Below is the full seven-day forecast for the airport from the NWS:
Sunday: A slight chance of showers before 1am, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms between 1am and 5am, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after 5am. Cloudy, with a low around 59. Windy, with a northeast wind 20 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 40 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Monday: Tropical storm conditions expected. Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. High near 67. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between 2 and 3 inches possible.
Monday Night: Tropical storm conditions expected. Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Low around 60. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between 2 and 3 inches possible.
Tuesday: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm before 8am, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms between 8am and 9am, then a chance of showers after 9am. Cloudy, with a high near 71. South wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Tuesday Night: A 30 percent chance of showers, mainly before 9pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 60. South wind 5 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 15 mph.
Wednesday: A 30 percent chance of showers after 9am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 78.
Wednesday Night: A chance of showers, with thunderstorms also possible after 9pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 65. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Thursday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 80.
Thursday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms before 9pm, then a slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 65. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Friday: A slight chance of showers, with thunderstorms also possible after 9am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 83. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Friday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly clear, with a low around 66.
Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 84.
Saturday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 67.
Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 85.
By the time Irma made landfall, over 10,000 flights had been cancelled.