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Headed East? Hurricane Irene Might Mess Up Your Travel Plans

Hurricane Irene's projected path (Map via National Weather Service)
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Hurricane Irene is about to bear down on the Eastern seaboard of the U.S., and while we won't be feeling the effects of her fury here directly, for those in L.A. trying to head to the other side of the nation, serious travel disruptions are in the forecast.

"Airlines have begun canceling flights, cruise lines are scrambling to change itineraries, and many trains won't be running at all in the next few days," cautions CNN, adding: "Major airlines -- including US Airways, American, United Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines and AirTran -- have dropped ticket change fees for passengers scheduled to fly to or from many cities along the East Coast this weekend."

With air travel seriously impacted by the storm, and curtailing operations at major U.S. airports in New York, Boston, Baltimore, and other large hubs, the results will be not only passenger inconvenience, but a fiscal nightmare. "Projected costs from air-traffic interruptions are among those used by Kinetic Analysis Corp. in estimating $20 billion in overall economic losses from Irene, including missed work time, power failures and shipping disruptions," notes Bloomberg.

Locally, Los Angeles International Airport officials are keeping an eye on the storm and is asking that passengers keep tabs on their own flights to make sure they can still get to their destinations. Katherine Alvarado, an LAX spokesperson, said via an email alert this morning:

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At this point in time, the FAA up-to-the-minute flight status online system is indicating normal operations. All passengers headed to the east coast are advised to monitor the status of Hurricane Irene and check with their airlines for any flight delays.

If you do make it out via air to the East Coast, and had plans to ride the rails, you might also find that's not going to be possible."Amtrak has canceled most train service operating south of Washington for this Friday, Saturday and Sunday," explains the rail service.

Travelers are advised to check with their air or rail carriers as well as their hotels to be updated on the status of their reservations. The bottom line is stay away from the projected path region.

But don't just take our word for it: President Obama said Irene was likely to go down as a "historic" storm, and urged anyone in the hurricane's projected path to take all the warnings seriously and obey evacuation orders and preparation advisories.

Need to track Hurricane Irene? The NY Times has put together a list of suggested smartphone apps you can use.