The week between Christmas and New Years Day is typically one of the busiest travel weeks of the year as tens of millions of Americans visit family and friends or enjoy vacations over the holidays.
Unfortunately for travelers this year, a powerful winter storm system has resulted in hundreds of flight cancellations and thousands of delays, while at the same time making travel by road treacherous. Several deaths have been blamed on the conditions, according to media reports.
NDTV reported that, according to data from the flight-tracking site FlightAware, more than 800 flights were canceled Thursday and more than 6,500 flights were delayed due to the powerful winter storm.
Heavy snow over the plains states
The storm has blanketed much of the Midwest and northeastern United States with snow, particularly the central and northern plains states, with strong winds, rain and ice rounding out the winter weather threat in many areas.
More than a foot of snow was expected to have fallen in certain places before the storm fully subsided, and states like Nebraska and North Dakota were forced to close down sections of interstates or issue no-travel advisories because of the near white-out conditions.
The storm was so severe that it compelled authorities to halt travel both through the air and on the ground.
Disruptions down south
Nor was the disruptive weather confined only to the more northerly climes, as the Dallas/Fort Worth area in Texas was also hit hard.
The metro region serves as a major hub for hundreds of thousands of travelers during the holidays, but those travelers had little recourse as the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport was forced to cancel at least 450 flights while delaying more than 600 others.
“Our Christmas vacation is ruined,” Denise Knight, a stranded traveler, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper. “By the time we get where we’re going, it’ll be time for us to come back.”
“Now we’ve got hotel rooms, no luggage, no clean clothes and no guaranteed flights until Saturday,” she added.
According to the National Weather Service, the massive storm was expected to bring bitter cold with strong winds and heavy snow to northern states, while southern states could expect heavy rainfall and potentially even flash flooding, disrupting travel plans all around.
Weather is always a factor when traveling over the winter holidays, but this year it is particularly challenging, and is expected to continue throughout the weekend in many areas. Stay safe out there.