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Another Week, Another Big Winter Storm
Feeling a little circumspect after last week's "missed by this much" prediction of an "historic" storm for the entire Northeast Corridor, the National Weather Service was being very careful about making a call for this next system. The storm turned out to be a bit of an oddball, too, stretching horizontally from the Midwest to the Northeast. Here's how we been covered it. As always, like a blog, the latest item is on top, so read up from the bottom for the complete context.
2/4/15, 4PM ET, WEDNESDAY
IF IT'S TUESDAY, IT MUST HAVE BEEN A SLOW RECOVERY
It's been a very slow recovery in the Midwest and Northeast from this week's storms. On Tuesday, Flightstats.com reported that there were nearly 5,300 delays and, worse, 1,070 cancellations nationwide. Almost all were to or from Chicago/O'Hare or the Northeast. There were almost 290 cancellations at Chicago/O'Hare, 275 at New York/LaGuardia, about 160 at Boston/Logan and nearly 120 at New York/Kennedy. Today looks to be better, however, at least as far as delays. But we do seem to be on track for almost as many cancellations as yesterday. Of course, it might be wise to keep repeating the mantra: Last winter was worse. Last winter was worse. Last winter was worse.
2/2/15, 9:30PM ET, MONDAY
I GOT YOU, BABE. DELTA? NOT SO MUCH.
So what could make a day of snow, sleet, freezing rain, frigid temperatures and a blizzard of delayed and cancelled flights from Chicago to the Atlantic Ocean even worse? A tech blackout at a major airline, of course.
Delta Air Lines passengers suffered through a brutal day of outages on its Web site and the app. Many flyers couldn't access their itineraries, others could not print out boarding passes. Oh, and if you tried to call Delta, waits were as long as four hours. You know, Delta being Delta. Did Delta warn its customers to expect delays accessing their travel information? Of course not. That would be telling, as Number 2 often said to The Prisoner.
What else happened today? Almost 4,300 flights were cancelled. (Of course, if you were flying Delta, you might not have known that!) After the nasty blizzard in Chicago yesterday, more than 40 percent of the flights at O'Hare today were scrubbed. With a wintry mix in New York, two-thirds of the flights at New York/LaGuardia were dumped. About half of Newark's schedule was wiped out. Kennedy did a little better (about 20 percent scrubbed), but delays were very long. More than 70 percent of the flights at Boston/Logan were cancelled in front of the big snowfall there today. Detroit/Metro lost about a quarter of its flights. (Again, Delta couldn't or wouldn't tell you that.)
Looking for a silver lining? Tomorrow promises to be better. So far only 400 flights have been cancelled.
I'd say buck up because the groundhog said spring is coming. But there are now so many competing groundhogs in so many cities, I don't know which one to believe. Besides, last time I looked at AMC on TV, Bill Murray was still waking up to I Got You, Babe.
2/1/15, 11:15PM ET, SUNDAY
TRAVELERS FEELING A LOT LIKE SEAHAWKS FANS
Ouch! While you were watching the Super Bowl, the snow was falling and causing havoc from Chicago to the Northeast.
With more than 14 inches on the ground at both Chicago airports, there were nearly 1,400 cancellations at O'Hare and more than 300 dropped at Midway. That represents about two third of O'Hare's daily schedule and about 80 percent of Midway's daily roster, according to FlightAware.com.
About 30 percent of flights at Detroit/Metro were dumped today.
Tomorrow looks brutal both in the Midwest and the East. About half of Newark's schedule is already scrubbed and a quarter of LaGuardia's flights have been dumped. About 10 percent of the takeoffs and landings at Kennedy Airport are off the board. About a third of the schedule of Boston/Logan has been dropped. A quarter of O'Hare's flights tomorrow are already gone and about 20 percent of flights at Midway are scrubbed. About 10 percent of Detroit's flights are off.
If you want to do it in one big bang, there have been about 2,500 cancellations and nearly 2,500 delays today. Tomorrow, says FlightAware.com, more than 2,000 flights have already been dropped nationwide.
The best spin you can put on it is that the snow is likely to be mostly done by midnight tonight in Chicago. Accumulations are expected to be low tomorrow in New York City and the region's three airports. But the northern suburbs west of Boston are expected to get socked with about another foot of snow.
Biggest potential problem tomorrow? Ice in Metro New York. Ice is harder for airlines to manage than snow.
Best advice? Fly south to avoid all this. Except, of course, from Phoenix, where crowds departing the Super Bowl and the Phoenix Open golf tournament will cause the requisite amount of chaos. I guess the best thing you can say is that the people who have to travel farthest to home (Bostonians and other denizens of New England) are the happiest.
2/1/15, 11:30AM ET, SUNDAY
UNITED BAILING EARLY AT NEWARK
Before folks start blaming everyone from New York Mayor Bill DiBlasio to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for official overreacting, we should note that United Airlines is bailing early on flights at its Newark hub. According to Flightaware.com, nearly 40 percent of Newark's takeoffs and landings (about 400 flights) are already dumped tomorrow. Most of them are United Airlines flights. No pol in the New York Metro area has yet uttered a peep about the weather tomorrow, which is predicted to dump anywhere from six to 18 inches on the region.
2/1/15, 11AM ET, SUNDAY
SCHEDULES CHOPPED AT O'HARE, MIDWAY--DTW CANCELLATIONS, TOO
The weather in Chicago and around the Midwest north of Interstate 70 is worsening and taking its toll on flights. Right now, according to FlightStats.com and Flightaware.com, more than 1,200 takeoffs and landings have been dumped at O'Hare and Midway. That's about 60 percent of the combined schedule. But expect many more flights to be dumped in the hours ahead as conditions worsen. In fact, the National Weather Service has issued a blizzard watch starting at 2pm local time today. In other words, if you haven't left Chicago yet, you probably won't get out. And if you're trying to get in, don't hold your breath. It's also begun to snow in Detroit and flight cancellations are beginning to pop up at Detroit/Metro.
1/31/15, 10PM ET, SATURDAY
GOING SOUTH (METAPHORICALLY, NOT GEOGRAPHICALLY) VERY FAST
Wow, boys and girls, this is going south (metaphorically, not geographically) very fast. United and American have already cancelled about half of their operations tomorrow at O'Hare (see below) and the latest National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts are extremely ugly. Tomorrow through Tuesday looks quite nasty in the Midwest, MidAtlantic and New England. Here's the current outlook for major hubs and some other key cities.
CHICAGO A winter storm warning has just gone into effect and it's raining or snowing in many places around the Midwest. There may be 10-14 inches of snow in Chicagoland by the end of the day Sunday. Other parts of the region closer to Interstate 70 will receive much less snow.
DETROIT The winter storm warning goes into effect at 1am Sunday and the NWS says there'll be 6-10 inches of snow.
PITTSBURGH It'll get a relatively modest 2-5 inches.
CLEVELAND When you throw in the Lake Effect snow, the NWS is predicting 6-14 inches.
NEW YORK CITY The winter storm warning goes into effect at 7pm Sunday and current predictions call for 4-8 inches of snow and possibly some ice.
BOSTON The winter storm warning gets posted at 9pm Sunday and predictions are from 8-14 inches more snow. That's a nightmare scenario since there is upwards of three feet on the ground in parts of the city and Massachusetts thanks to the blizzard earlier this week.
Elsewhere in New England, the NWS is calling for 7-13 inches in places like Hartford and Providence. Portland, Maine, which was also buried from this week's blizzard and a smaller storm yesterday, is looking at 6-10 inches more snow. Back in New York State, around Albany and the Hudson Valley, there could be between eight and 16 inches of snow, says the NWS.
What to do? Needless to say, avoid the Midwest/Northeast hubs if you can. Delta can route you over Salt Lake City, Minneapolis or Atlanta. American's Dallas/Fort Worth hub should be fine. So is US Airways' Charlotte hub. Obviously, avoid Phoenix given the post-Super Bowl traffic early next week. If you're on United, try to reroute through Houston/Intercontinental or Washington/Dulles.
1/31/15, 9:30PM ET, SATURDAY
O'HARE CHECKS OUT: AIRLINES DROP HALF OF SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE
The major flight-tracking services, FlightStats.com and FlightAware.com, are reporting that the big airlines at Chicago/O'Hare have an itchy trigger finger. United and American airlines have already dumped about half of their schedules into and out of O'Hare on Sunday. The majority of the 800 or so cancellations are flights operated by their respective commuter carriers, but United and American have already scrubbed about 150 flights from their own roster. Southwest Airlines, which has a hub at Chicago's Midway Airport, still hasn't moved
1/31/15, 3:30PM ET, SATURDAY
AIRLINES POST WAIVERS FOR THIS WEEKEND AND NEXT WEEK
Here are the latest travel waivers issued so far by the major domestic carriers ahead of this storm. They vary by date and destination to reflect how this storm is expected to move through the Midwest tonight and tomorrow and then hit the MidAtlantic and New England Sunday night into Monday.
AIR CANADA http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelinfo/before/operation/index.html
ALASKA AIRLINES http://www.alaskaair.com/content/travel-info/before-your-trip/travel-tips/travel-advisories.aspx
AMERICAN AIRLINES http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/travelAlerts.jsp
DELTA AIR LINES https://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/advisories.html
JETBLUE AIRWAYS http://www.jetblue.com/JetblueAlerts/WeatherUpdate.aspx
PORTER AIRLINES https://www.flyporter.com/Travel/Advisories
SUN COUNTRY AIRLINES http://www.suncountry.com/page/1/Winter-Weather-Waivers.jsp
UNITED AIRLINES http://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/travel/news/Pages/travelnotices.aspx
US AIRWAYS http://www.usairways.com/TravelCenter/Advisories.aspx
VIRGIN AMERICA https://www.virginamerica.com/cms/traveler-alerts
1/31/15, 12:15PM ET, SATURDAY
MEET THE NEW TRAVEL PREP, SAME AS THE OLD TRAVEL PREP
A column I wrote last year at this time about winter travel prep still makes sense because everything old is new again when it comes to weather. Click here to read it.
1/31/15, 11:45AM ET, SATURDAY
LET'S DO IT AGAIN!
After this week's odd blizzard, I'm not predicting the Super Bowl, but I can predict with confidence that another winter storm may play havoc with travel this weekend and early next week.
A wide, horizontal system will move through the Midwest tonight and tomorrow and then hit the MidAtlantic from Philadelphia through Maine tomorrow evening and Monday. It has the potential to dump 12-18 inches on Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, then hit New York with 6-10 inches and batter central and coastal New England again with another foot of snow. South of New York, in Philadelphia and South Jersey, we're looking mostly at rain.
There'll more specifics as the weather geeks get a better handle on things. They are struggling with the potential impact of this storm in the Midwest--it's focused in the corridor between I-70 to the South and I-80 to the North--and where the rain/snow line will be. But the Midwest has been below average for snow this winter, so...
In the East, it looks like there'll be enough snow to snarl the New York airports Sunday night and Monday morning. And there'll be enough additional snow to punish New England for, I guess, Deflate-gate. With upwards of three feet now on the ground and predictions for another foot from this storm, it's hard to see where cities such as Boston and Portland are going to put this stuff...
The airlines are out with travel waivers through February 2, although they are city-dependent and date-dependent. And you can check Weather.gov and drill down to the county level to see National Weather Service forecast and predictions.
Needless to say, this storm will have some impact on travel in the next 72 hours. How much on the annoyance-to-catastrophe scale is still, well, up in the air. So plan carefully, be flexible and if you can make other plans and can travel later in the week, it might be a wise way to go.
1/25/15, 1PM ET, SUNDAY
AN 'HISTORIC,' IF SOMEWHAT SELECTIVE, STORM
The usually circumspect National Weather Service predicted an "historic" storm for the Northeast--and the NWS was right, just selectively. The Washington Metro area was relatively unscathed. Philadelphia and New York dodged the bullet. But most of New England didn't. Parts of Maine and Massachusetts got socked with 36 inches of snow and more than two feet fell on Boston/Logan Airport. Click here to see how we covered it.
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