As Hurricane Irma bore down on southern Florida Friday and the local weather service warned of an “extreme” threat to life and property, there was a mad scramble to get out of the area.
Flight patterns out of Florida airports Friday clearly showed the panic as thousands tried to evacuate in time.
On FlightRadar24, multitudes of planes were pictured heading far away from the storm. Most flights out of Miami International Airport were canceled and many airport operations were shutting down Friday evening ahead of anticipated landfall this weekend.
As of Friday evening, a long line of planes were heading up the east coast of Florida, out of the hurricane’s path.
Earlier Friday, the airborne exodus was even bigger. Miami International had long delays as staffing became an issue with the overwhelming number of departures.
At smaller, private airports it was also a busy day as last-minute departures attempted to take off. Inevitably a plane traffic jam at the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport near Miami was the equivalent of bumper-to-bumper traffic earlier Friday.
Other airports, like Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, were feeling the crush of takeoff demand. That airport was due to close Friday night with the last flight taking off at 7:45 p.m. local time.
Listening in to air traffic controllers orchestrating the mass exodus on Friday afternoon, it was non-stop departures Friday. At the Miami control tower at one point pilots were wishing controllers good luck as they flew away from the historic storm.
Good luck, indeed.