Hurricane Irma is looming as a potential threat to Florida and parts of the East Coast, and Surf Expo has shortened the length of its show as a result.
Surf Expo sent out a note on Tuesday announcing that the show would go on as planned, but with a changed schedule.
The show will run as planned Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will close Friday at 5 p.m. The final day of the show, Saturday, has been cancelled. The Demo Day on Wednesday will proceed as scheduled.
SES has been in Florida since Monday and the pending hurricane is a hot topic of conversation. Already, the state of Florida has lifted tolls on highways to ease evacuations and declared a state of emergency in all 67 Florida counties. All state offices will be closed on Friday.
There are reports of big box stores being sold out of water, even in Orlando, and officials statewide are urging residents to have evacuation plans in place and supplies on hand.
Schools in the Orlando area have moved Friday football games to Thursday. Miami Dade County is making plans to evacuate Miami Beach, and Miami Dade schools have cancelled classes Thursday and Friday. The American Red Cross has established a disaster relief operation from Orlando.
However, forecasters do not yet know if – and where - the storm may hit.
Florida retailers we spoke to are watching the weather forecasts closely and making plans to get their stores ready. Some are planning to come to the show on Thursday, and may drive home Thursday night depending on the forecast.
Surftech decided Tuesday night to pull out of the show based on reports from Florida and Orlando.
"Surftech has requested all remaining staff to abort their travel plans due to Hurricane Irma," CEO John Vance said. "We know Orlando is going to be an epicenter for the evacuation efforts and we don't want to take hotel rooms and flights away from people seeking safety. We are looking forward to seeing every one safe and sound at the next January show."
At the Hyatt Regency adjacent to the Orange County Convention Center where Surf Expo is being held, an employee at the front desk told us the hotel has had cancellations from show attendees.
However, the hotel has had a rush of reservations come in for the weekend from people from South Florida who want plans in place in case they have to evacuate.
Surf Expo Show Director Roy Turner told SES "We are all concerned with Hurricane Irma and our thoughts and prayers go out to all in its path."
"While the current weather forecast in Orlando is acceptable, the weather this weekend could decline depending on the path of Hurricane Irma. Surf Expo has been working with the Orange County Convention Center management and local authorities to evaluate the best course of action for our event scheduled for this week," he said.
"Every conversation we have and each decision we make starts and ends with our unwavering commitment to our exhibitors, partners and attendees. At this time we will open as planned on Thursday, September 7 and close on Friday, September 8 at 5 p.m. Our demo day scheduled for Wednesday, September 6 will go on as planned."