U.S. Sees Thousands of Flight Delays as Winter Storm Rocks the States

People pass through Salt Lake City International Airport, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Sal
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, file

The U.S. has experienced thousands of flight delays in the last two days as a coast-to-coast winter storm batters the northern portion of the country, bringing blizzard conditions and “significant icing” to several various states.

The National Weather Service (NWS) now warns of two winter storms causing what it describes as “hazardous travel.”

“Two powerful winter storms will bring widespread areas of wintry precipitation from coast to coast. Heavy snow, significant icing, and blizzard conditions are possible in portions of the Upper Midwest eastward into the Northeast,” an update reads. 

“Heavy rain, snow, wind, and cold temperatures will affect much of California through the end of the week,” it continues, warning of “dangerous travel conditions”:

Th update now includes news of a new system developing off the West Coast, which will affect California. It reads in part [emphasis added]:

A prolonged major winter storm will continue to bring widespread heavy snow and blizzard conditions to portions of the West as well as the northern Plains/Great Lakes into Thursday as a series of low pressure waves traverse a front to the south.  Heavy snowfall rates of as much as 1 to 2 inches/hour are expected to combine with winds locally as high as 40 to 50 mph to drive significant impacts that will include major disruptions to travel, infrastructure, livestock and recreation. This series of low pressure waves that will make up this coast-to-coast winter storm will bring heavy snow and locally significant ice from the Great Lakes into the Northeast, and many of these areas are expected to see an additional 6 to 12 inches of snow, with some amounts perhaps as high as 18 inches. Power outages and areas of tree damage will be possible across these areas, and especially for the locations seeing a combination of stronger winds and accumulating ice.

On Thursday and Friday, the heavy snowfall threat across the West should become more centered over California as a new storm system developing just off the West Coast drops south and begins to edge into the Southwest for the end of the week. 

As a result, flight delays and cancellations have been piling up. There were 1,772 U.S.-related canceled flights on Wednesday and 7,067 more flight delays.

According to data from FlightAware, the Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport saw 45 percent of its flights canceled, while the Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport canceled 34 percent of its flights. The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport also canceled 33 percent of its flights on Wednesday as well. Notably, over 485,00 DTE Energy customers in the Detroit-metro area were without power as of Thursday morning due to the storm. 

Delays and cancellations are beginning to pile up on Thursday as well. As of 10:40 a.m. Eastern, there were 826 U.S.-related flight cancellations and 1,559 more delays. The Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport is leading in terms of cancellations thus far, canceling 29 percent of its flights thus far. 


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