Snow, rain, ice, wind and frigid temperatures are disrupting air travel plans as well as bus and Amtrak passenger train service across the United States.
As of 7:15 p.m. ET Thursday, airlines canceled more than 2,300 U.S. flights and voluntarily canceled more than 2,000 flights on Friday, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware. Even on Saturday, more than 100 flights were cancelled.
Thursday’s delays were even worse: nearly 8,250 as of 7:15 p.m. ET.
Chicago and Denver were hardest hit, canceling about a quarter of inbound and outbound flights on Thursday — hundreds of flights at each airport, according to FlightAware data.
At Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Thursday, the average delay due to snow and ice was 159 minutes — nearly three hours, according to a notice from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The temperature in O’Hare dropped to 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 degrees Celsius) around 6:15 p.m. local time. The National Weather Service reported snow and freezing fog.
The FAA said planes departing from Dallas-Fort Worth, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver and Minneapolis airports will need to be sprayed with deicing fluid to ensure safe flight.
In the busy New York City metro area, the FAA warned of potential delays to Newark flights due to visibility issues.
All three airports in the region are warning travelers that an upcoming winter weather front could disrupt their travel.
“Flight activity at #LaGuardiaAirport may be affected by heavy rain and strong winds later today and Friday. Travelers, please check flight status with your airline before heading to the airport,” LaGuardia tweeted wrote. Similar notices were posted at John F. Kennedy and Newark airports.
Many airlines have issued weather waivers, allowing travelers to change itineraries at short notice without penalty.
For those whose flights remain on schedule, the TSA is advising passengers to arrive at the airport earlier than usual.
John Busch, TSA federal security director at Reagan National Airport, told reporters that all airports “expect this holiday season to be busier than we’ve come out of the pandemic in the past few years. We’ve had some of the busiest The days, yesterday and today, we expect Friday the 30th before the New Year holidays may also be a very busy day.”
But Busch added that TSA is “fully prepared to handle the additional traffic and throughput at our security checkpoints.”
Maria Ihekwaba, who traveled from Chicago to Clear Lake, Iowa, with her granddaughter Thursday morning, told CNN she was trying to get out as soon as possible.
“Especially when you’re traveling from Chicago, you never know what’s going to happen in Chicago because it’s the Windy City,” Ihekwaba said.
Cary Lucas, a traveler from San Diego, told CNN she was visiting her sister and brother-in-law but cut the trip short because she didn’t want to be caught up in the upcoming weather.
“I’m concerned that because of San Diego, we won’t have these snowstorms,” she said. “So I don’t like it being stuck in the airport for a long time.”
“It seems like the best choice to make right now,” she said.
It’s not just flights that are affected by the bomb cyclone.
Greyhound issued a service alert on Thursday, warning customers traveling in the Midwest over the next two days may delay or cancel trips entirely.
Greyhound, the largest provider of intercity bus service, listed more than a dozen affected cities from West Virginia to Minnesota. They include:
• Charleston, WV
• Danville, IL
• Davenport, Iowa
• Kansas City
• Wichita, Kansas
Greyhound said riders can call 1-833-233-8507 to reschedule.
Amtrak has also been forced to delay or cancel passenger service on some lines in the Midwest and Northeast.
Click here for rail service disruptions as of 5pm Thursday.
In its notice, Amtrak said, “Customers with reservations on trains that are being modified will often be placed on a train with a similar departure time or on another day.
“For customers who wish to make changes to their reservations during the revised schedule, Amtrak will waive the additional fee by calling our Reservations Center at 1-800-USA-RAIL.”