Charleston International Airport (copy)

The Charleston International Airport sent out its final flight on Wednesday afternoon as the area started to feel the impacts of Hurricane Dorian. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

Commercial airlines stopped operating flights at Charleston International Airport on Wednesday afternoon because of Hurricane Dorian. 

The Federal Aviation Administration shut down the radar approach tower at 3:15 p.m. The FAA doesn't generally operate towers when sustained winds are at least 40 mph.

Forecasters didn't expect wind speeds to reach that level until later Wednesday, airport Executive Director Paul Campbell said, but no commercial flights will head in or out once the tower has shut down.

Flights operated on time through the morning, with no cancellations or changes planned before the winds hit. One final departure, a JetBlue flight to Washington, D.C., took off just as operations were shutting down.

Flights will still be able to land in the case of an emergency. If that happens, they'll be directed by FAA officials elsewhere. If visibility worsens at any point, no planes will be able to land.

An overnight crew of police officers, maintenance workers and operations managers are on tap to spend the night at the airport "to make sure (airport operations will) be ready to rock and roll," Campbell said.

Hurricane Wire is a pop-up newsletter during hurricane season that delivers anyone who lives on the East Coast all the information they need to know as storms brew in the Atlantic and beyond.


Campbell expects the airport to resume normal operations around 8 a.m. Friday.

Some airlines that operate out of Charleston International were bringing in larger aircraft than usual on Wednesday to accommodate more passengers, Campbell said. The flights were full, he said.

Most of the eight airlines operating out of Charleston waived change fees and set fare caps for passengers scheduled to travel through the airport during the hurricane.