After Storm Michael made landfall in Florida claiming two lives, it appears to be business as usual for travellers heading to and from tourist hot spots in the state.

The category four storm - which was 560 km across - barrelled into the Florida Panhandle with winds of 250kph, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. It was the most powerful storm to ever hit the region.

But in Orlando, almost 480 km away, the international airport was operating as normal as were the city's famous theme parks such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.
And it was the same picture in Miami, almost 800 km from where the storm made landfall. There were only 10 flight cancellations at its international airport.

Orlando International Airport tweeted and reassured passengers by saying: "#Michael is not expected to cause a major impact to MCO operations, but check with your airline for the latest flight status before heading to the airport."

Storm Michael: 200kmph wind and waves continue to pound the community of Shell Point, Florida. Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images
Storm Michael: 200kmph wind and waves continue to pound the community of Shell Point, Florida. Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images

The Daily Mail reported that there were relatively few trans-Atlantic flights affected by the storm, stating only American Airlines has cancelled a flight from the UK as a result of the hurricane.

However, for those heading to areas close to where the hurricane hit or where it could head next are being warned to take extra care and check their travel plans.

In a statement on Tuesday, the New Zealand embassy in Washington DC issued a warning to nationals in the 'at risk' states of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

The embassy urged New Zealanders "to avoid affected areas and follow the advice of local authorities at all times, including any evacuation orders." And "Seek suitable shelter."

The three major airlines flying inside the US have made preparations in case schedules have to be disrupted.

Yesterday, Delta cancelled all flights for Panama City, Tallahassee, Destin-Fort Walton Beach , Albany, Ga. , Valdosta, Ga. and Dothan, Ala.

The airline expects to resume flights at these airports this morning, pending an assessment of facilities and infrastructure.

Since Tuesday, Delta has cancelled nearly 80 scheduled flights as a result of Michael with additional disruptions possible.

It is now advising passengers to check their flight status on their airline's website before setting off to the airport.

United Airlines, meanwhile, has a travel waiver in place meaning passengers flying to several airports can opt to travel after the storm passes.

These airports include: Atlanta, Charleston, Columbia, Ft. Walton Beach, FL, Greenville-Spartanburg, Mobile, Myrtle Beach, Panama City, Pensacola and Savannah.

American Airlines also has a travel waiver in place for flights to and from Augusta, Destin / Fort Walton Beach, Charleston, Columbia, Florence, Hilton Head, Mobile, Myrtle Beach, Panama City, Florida, Pensacola, Savannah and Tallahassee.

Meanwhile the advice from the world's busiest airport, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, is to check the flight status with airlines.

New Zealanders in the area requiring consular assistance can contact the New Zealand Embassy in Washington on +1 202 328 4800 or via email at

Hero weatherman sees disaster approaching

A Weather Channel meteorologist was nearly impaled by a plank of wood while recording a live report during Hurricane Michael.

Jim Cantore was reporting from Panama City Beach, Florida, during 155mph winds when he had to jump out of the way of an airborne 2x4.

The meteorologist also attracted attention for rescuing NBC's Kerry Sanders who was nearly blown off his feet before Cantore ran over and held him upright.

Sanders thanked the meteorologist in two tweets after his live report, praising Cantore and stating that he avoided a concussion after being blown into a concrete pillar.
In the footage, Cantore is seen delivering a piece-to-camera when suddenly the piece of wood comes flying at him.

Thinking he's about to be hit, the meteorologist breaks off mid-sentence and jumps out of the way while clutching his head.

In a separate clip, Kerry Sanders is seen swaying back and forth as the ferocious winds nearly blow him over.

He crouches down on the ground to keep his balance before Cantore walks through the storm and walks Sanders behind a pillar where he was somewhat protected from the winds.

Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday afternoon as a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane, pushing a deadly storm surge and whipping the coast with 250 kph winds.

The eye of the monstrous hurricane made landfall near Mexico Beach just before 2pm and the eyewall came ashore minutes earlier between Panama City and St. Vincent Island.
Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 72 km from the center and were tearing buildings apart in Panama City Beach. Beachfront structures could be seen collapsing and metal roofing materials were blown away amid the heavy rain.

Forecasters said rainfall could reach up to a foot and the life-threatening storm surge could swell to 14 feet. By 3pm, Michael still had top sustained winds of 240 kph as its core moved over Florida's Panhandle.

The National Weather Service says tornadoes are possible across the Florida Panhandle, southeast Georgia and southern South Carolina through Thursday morning as the hurricane now moves inland.

Michael, which was supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, is one of the most powerful storms to hit the U.S. mainland in nearly 50 years.

Authorities told residents along the affected areas of Florida's Gulf of Mexico coast on Wednesday morning that they had run out of time to evacuate and should hunker down.

More than 375,000 people had been urged or ordered to evacuate, but emergency authorities lamented that many people ignored the warnings and seemed to think they could ride it out.

Two people, including a child, have been killed by falling trees, officials say.

The storm has left nearly 500,000 people without electricity in Florida, Alabama and Georgia.