Snow: Flight cancellations begin as new storm strengthens

This Jan. 18, 2019, map from the National Weather Service showed winter-weather advisories going into affect ahead of a new major storm. (Photo: National Weather Service)

 

Airlines are already canceling flights ahead of a new winter storm that’s forecast to bring snow and ice from the Great Plains to the Midwest and Northeast.

The storm was expected to begin dumping snow in the upper Midwest and Great Plains on Friday before moving east to the Atlantic Coast this weekend, when snow totals could hit 2 feet or more in interior parts of New York state and New England.

Several major hubs lie in the storm’s path, including Chicago O’Hare, Chicago Midway and Detroit. However, the storm’s biggest impact on air travel could come Saturday and Sunday, with a mix of snow, ice, rain and wind expected to move across the airports serving New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington and Baltimore.

Flight delays could last even after the storm, dubbed “Winter Storm Harper” by The Weather Channel. Bitter cold is predicted to blast into the Midwest and Northeast in the storm’s wake, bringing the possibility of de-icing delays at busy airports that could last into Monday.

For now, flight cancellations have already begun.

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More than 160 flights had been canceled nationwide on Friday and another 240 delayed as of 8:40 a.m. ET, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.com.

Southwest accounted for 120 of those cancellations, by FlightAware’s count, with most of those appearing to come at Chicago Midway – the busiest airport in Southwest’s network.

But flyers should brace for a spike in cancellations and delays through Monday that will affect all big U.S. airlines. Using previous storms as a yardstick, flight cancellations seem likely to push into thousands by early next week if current forecasts hold. 

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