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I have an international flight (well, just to Canada) from San Diego early tomorrow morning. There is a hurricane due to hit Baja/San Diego/Southern California tomorrow also. I'm hoping the flight leaves before the weather arrives...

How soon do the airlines or authorities typically cancel flights due to expected extreme weather such as hurricanes? The weather is fine here right now, the wind is forecast to start picking up around 6am tomorrow, with the worst of it due to start from midday (so well after my flight due to leave) - Do they cancel flights because they expect the weather to be bad (so could be notified of cancellation tonight)? Or do they normally wait until the weather actually is bad before they cancel?

And how bad do winds need to be before they cancel flights? The winds/weather etc. don't concern me, I've flown in some pretty bad weather before (I trust the pilots) - I just want to plan ahead for if the flight is affected.

Hurricane Hilary - National Hurricane Center

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That's impossible to know. It's not just up to the airline: the airport may close or restrict traffic, the FAA may close certain corridors, etc. and each of those has their own timeline and decision making process.

There is no incentive for the airline to cancel early even if the chances of the flight going are already low. That's why most airlines cancel fairly late: there is no benefit to them for cancelling timely.

Obviously you should closely monitor the status of your flight but it's also very helpful to check the status of the incoming aircraft. If your airplane is not getting there, than its highly likely that your flight will be cancelled too.

You can also track cancellations at San Diego, for example: https://www.flightaware.com/live/cancelled/today/SAN . If that starts shooting up, than chances are your flight will be cancelled too.

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  • There is actually an incentive for airline to cancel flights a bit early in some cases: it’s better to have an aircraft and crew in a location they can depart of and serve other flights in the schedule than stuck somewhere for ages which will affect not only that flight but many others after that. But for an early flight this seems unlikely to me.
    – jcaron
    Aug 19, 2023 at 21:36
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    Actually Southwest have already cancelled quite a few flights out of SAN tomorrow morning…
    – jcaron
    Aug 19, 2023 at 21:38
  • @jcaron Isn't that just Southwest's standard operating procedure these days?
    – Midavalo
    Aug 19, 2023 at 21:40
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    @jcaron: My point here is that even if they internally decide to cancel, they may not communicate it right away to keep the option open to reverse the decision. I have seen flights officially listed as "on time" until the last minute, even though the inbound plane was expected to arrive an hour after the "on time" departure.
    – Hilmar
    Aug 19, 2023 at 23:08
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    The flight is still on, 90 mins out. Wasn't much weather to speak of when I arrived at the airport so maybe it's still to come or has weakened overnight
    – Midavalo
    Aug 20, 2023 at 13:06

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