Airlines cancel hundreds of flights as hurricane hits US

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, file photo, hurricane specialist Eric Blake monitors the path of Hurricane Matthew at the National Hurricane Center, in Miami. Travelers along the East Coast are preparing for delays and cancellations as Hurricane Matthew heads toward the U.S. Airlines are preparing to suspend flights from Florida up through Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, depending on where the hurricane hits land. Cruise lines are shuffling ship itineraries and many frantic vacationers are looking at insurance policies to see if they are covered. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

Airlines are canceling hundreds of flights as Hurricane Matthew sweeps along the Florida coast.

The Fort Lauderdale airport shut down on Thursday morning, and further north the Orlando airport expected to do the same by nighttime.

By midday, flight-tracking service FlightAware.com reported that nearly 1,500 flights within the U.S. had been scrapped, with the largest numbers at Fort Lauderdale and Miami. American Airlines, which has a major hub in Miami, was the hardest-hit carrier, followed by Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways.

FlightAware says airlines have already canceled nearly 1,300 flights scheduled for Friday.

Airlines often cancel flights before storms hit to prevent passengers from being stranded at airports and to keep their planes in position to recover after the bad weather passes.