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In five months, Houston has suffered through a massive hurricane and three "snow events." But go ahead, continue to be a climate change denier. It's a good look as you cool your heels at an airport club trying to figure out why your flight to New Orleans was dumped due to icy runways. Meanwhile, a wide slice of the nation, from Texas to New England, experienced a nasty storm that dumped snow where it almost never snows and frigid temperatures in cities with pipes and homes without insulation. Here's how we dealt with this week's dystopia. Read up from the bottom for the proper context.
1/17/18, 1:30PM ET, WEDNESDAY
The snow and cold weather continue to pound the South and the region's two big hubs, Atlanta and Charlotte, are bending and are perilously close to the breaking point. FlightAware.com reports that 10 percent of the flights are gone at American's Charlotte hub and cancellations at Atlanta/Hartsfield are near the 15 percent level. Meanwhile, New Orleans has already dumped about 40 percent of its schedule today. The runways, coated with ice, closed earlier today. And it will get worse as the day drags on. Atlanta/Hartsfield is scrambling as roads clog with snow and ice and the city of Atlanta is basically closed for the day.
1/17/18, 10AM ET, WEDNESDAY
SNOW DAY. AND ICE DAY. AND BAD TRAVEL DAY.
Having fun yet? No, I didn't think so. Today is going to be another difficult day on the road with hard freezes in the deep Southeast and snow stretching from the Carolinas to Maine along the I-95 Corridor.
The flight problems today center on Atlanta/Hartsfield, where about 10 percent of flights have been cancelled, according to FlightAware.com. (It's been snowy and cold this morning there.) But that's just a fraction of the 1,200 cancellations so far today. Raleigh/Durham is also having a bad day with 20 percent of its schedule gone as weather geeks forecast as much as six inches of snow today in the area. Houston, which had its third measurable snow "event" yesterday, continues to have problems: 12 percent of the flights at United's Houston/Intercontinental are gone and about 8 percent are dumped at Southwest's Houston/Hobby hub.
But the biggest problem today is bitter cold in huge chunks of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Those areas are seeing temperatures well below freezing and at levels not seen in more than two decades. (See Weather.gov for the brutal county-level forecasts.) Remember: These areas don't have plows and sanders to prep and clear roads, so driving will be treacherous. Use caution and build extra time into your schedules. A few hotels have reported burst water pipes, so it's a difficult day.
(BTW, of course it's really cold and nasty in the Upper Midwest. But, you know, January ...)
Bit of "good" news today? New York/Kennedy, which melted down in the snow earlier this month, seems to be performing well enough. But that's a pretty low bar for a supposed winter-weather airport, no? It hasn't collapsed under a few inches of snow, so victory is declared... (However, there was a brief ground stop this morning at LaGuardia.)
1/16/18, 11:45PM ET, TUESDAY
MESSING WITH TEXAS
Today was a travel nightmare--especially in Texas, which basically closed due to the snow, ice and low temperatures. More than 2,300 flights were dumped nationwide, according to FlightAware.com, and a disproportionate amount of those were at Texas airports. Twenty percent of flights at Houston/Intercontinental were dumped and half of the schedule was scrubbed at Houston/Hobby. About a quarter of the flights at Austin never operated and it was nearly 20 percent at San Antonio. DFW killed about 5 percent of its schedule, most of them regional flights operating as American Eagle. Atlanta also lost about 10 percent of its flights yesterday.
1/15/18, 11PM ET, MONDAY
A BIGLY STORM FROM TEXAS TO MAINE
Nasty weather will mess with your schedule if you're planning to travel anywhere from Texas north to New England.
Of immediate concern is Texas, where snow and ice early tomorrow is threatening American's Dallas Fort Worth hub and the United and Southwest hubs in Houston. Airlines serving Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and other Texas cities are out with travel waivers. FlightStats.com reports that United has already cancelled more than 400 takeoffs and landings in Houston. In Austin, about 40 departures have been dumped and about 30 are gone from the schedule in San Antonio.
As you can see by the county-level map at the National Weather Service, bad-weather warnings extend up the middle of the country into Georgia, the Border States, West Virginia, into eastern Pennsylvania, the New York Metropolitan Area and up to Boston and New England. The storms in the East and New England are expected to be troublesome beginning tomorrow evening into Wednesday.
The weather will not only impact flights, of course. Snow and ice are not conditions that Texans, Arkansans and others in the Southeast handle well. So even if your flights aren't cancelled, please be careful on the roads. If you're from a state where snow isn't a big deal, please be aware that even small amounts will close or snarl roads in these traditionally no-snow places. Leave plenty of extra time to get to or from airports in the region.
My best advice? Make sure you know your hotel options at affected airports. (Back in the day, of course, I'd say have back-up reservations, but hotels have basically closed off that option with their offensive cancellation policies.) Do consult that county-level map on the home page of Weather.gov. And, obviously, plan accordingly and build in lots of extra time. If you can delay your flights, consider it.
1/13/18, 1PM ET, SATURDAY
SNOW? AT TORONTO AIRPORT? SHOCKING?
You'd think it would take a lot of snow to slow down Toronto/Pearson, Canada's busiest airport and Air Canada's largest hub. Well, apparently not. About 30 percent of the flights at YYZ were cancelled yesterday. The reason? Snow and cold weather knocked out about 500 flights. The Canadian Broadcasting System Web site has details here.
1/3/18, 11PM ET, WEDNESDAY
METEOROLOGICALLY SPEAKING, A BOMB OF A STORM
It's pretty safe to say that business travelers never heard the terms "bomb cyclone" or "cyclogenesis" or "bombogenesis" before the storm that raked the entire Eastern Seaboard during the first week of 2018. From Florida (where temperatures dropped to the mid-30s and Tallahassee saw its first snow in more than 20 years) to New England (where streets flooded in Boston and regional snowfall hit 18 inches), transportation ground to a halt. Thousands of flights were cancelled and dozens more were diverted. Roads iced over and airports closed. Back in the day, we called this kind of storm a Nor'easter or just "winter." The silver lining? The storm happened early enough in January that most business travelers were still off the road. Real all about it here.
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