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Seven Days in March
After early January's "bomb cyclone" and mid-January's icy weather and snows, the weather was strangely quiescent. And as March approached, there was the giddy assumption that we had dodged the worst of the winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere. Best laid plans, I guess. Back-to-back storms in the MidAtlantic and Northeast in the first few days of March destroyed our travel options. Meanwhile, Western Europe was buried in rain, frozen over in frigid temperatures and then pounded with rain. They were even throwing snowballs at the Vatican. In other words, it was winter after all ... and if you doubted it, a third storm hit New England and essentially closed down Boston/Logan for a day. Here is how we covered it at JoeSentMe and on Twitter. Read up from the bottom for the proper context.
3/14/18, 7AM ET, WEDNESDAY
THE AXIS OF ICKY
FlightStats.com reports that 1,998 flights were cancelled in the United States yesterday. Not a good number, to be sure. But the brutal Nor'easter was targeted. Although it threw a dusting of snow and ick from Philadelphia to Maine, three airports bore the brunt of the troubles. At Boston/Logan, 979 takeoffs and landings were cancelled. That alone is 49 percent of the national total. Add New York/LaGuardia (269), Hartford/Bradley (151) and Washington/National (144) and we are talking more than 77 percent of the nation's total. By the way, about 14.5 inches of snow fell at Logan, according to the National Weather Service. As much as 28 inches fell in other areas of Massachusetts. The Boston Globe says this is the largest one-day total in March in the state's history. After three rapid-fire storms, so much snow has accumulated in the Boston area that Saturday's St. Patrick's Day Parade may be curtailed or cancelled, the paper says.
3/12/18, 9:15PM ET, MONDAY
PLEASE DON'T COME TO BOSTON
Stop me if you've heard this one: A Nor'easter is bearing down on the Northeast and airlines and travelers are scrambling. This is the third storm in two weeks, but this time there's a difference. Although there will be disruptions from Pennsylvania to Maine, all the weather geeks agree this one is headed straight for Boston.
Intent on keeping their aircraft out of harm's way, the airlines have already cancelled around 100 arrivals at Logan today. Tomorrow looks like a slaughter with more than 700 takeoffs and landings already dumped. That translates to about 70 percent of the arrivals and 80 percent of the departures.
Also in trouble tomorrow: Hartford/Bradley, where half of the takeoff and landings have been scrubbed. And just because it's never sunny at LaGuardia, 13 percent of the flights are gone there tomorrow. About the same percentage have been dumped at Baltimore/Washington.
JetBlue has cancelled the most flights tomorrow (320), followed by Southwest, Delta and American, each with about 200 flights dumped.
Meanwhile, Amtrak will cancel trains on Tuesday between New York/Penn and Boston/South until at least 11am. Amtrak's convoluted verbiage--"modified" means "not operating" now, apparently--is here: https://www.amtrak.com/alert/nec-storm-adjusments.html
The National Weather Service says as much as 24 inches of snow could fall in the Boston area from late tonight through tomorrow. The near-blizzard will create "near impossible travel conditions" on Tuesday morning in Massachusetts, the weather service adds.
Substantially smaller amounts, if no less annoying conditions, are predicted for the New York and Philadelphia Metropolitan areas.
Plan accordingly. And, yes, all the airlines serving the region are out with travel waivers. But don't expect the roads to be comfortably drivable tomorrow morning.
3/7/18, 9PM ET, WEDNESDAY
WE'RE CLOSED, SAYS MIRACLE MAX AND THE NORTHEAST
How could today have been worse--and more surreal--in the Northeast? Well, as Miracle Max once said, you could have had a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it. In other words, go away, the Northeast was closed.
Consider these numbers, courtesy of FlightAware.com:
+ NEWARK AIRPORT: 55 percent of arrivals and departures cancelled
+ NEW YORK/LGA: 55 percent of departures and 60 percent of arrivals cancelled.
+ NEW YORK/JFK: 42 percent of departures and 41 percent of arrivals cancelled.
+ PHILADEPHIA 29 percent of departures and 25 percent of arrivals cancelled.
+ BOSTON/LOGAN: 21 percent of departures and 30 percent of arrivals cancelled.
And, you know, the day's not over. According to FlightStats.com, nearly 3,200 flights in the United States have been cancelled as of 8pm ET. By my calculations, about 3,000 of them involved Newark, LaGuardia, JFK, Philadelphia and Logan.
So, you know, pass the lemon juice ...
Tomorrow will be no picnic in the Northeast, either, although only 400 flights have been cancelled so far. All the airlines have extended their travel waivers through tomorrow at least. Amtrak will offer sharply reduced--"modified" in its jargon--service in the Northeast Corridor throughout Thursday.
With snowfall totals varying wildly--only two inches at JFK, but 16 inches just 55 miles away in West Milford, New Jersey--a lot of Thursday's difficulties will be measured by power outages and the quality of road conditions. The highest recorded snowfall as of 8pm--23 inches--was in Sloatsburg, New York.
The National Weather Service says the storm--with rain, snow, sleet, wind gusts, thunder snow and everything but the lemon juice--may last until near daybreak on Thursday in the Philadelphia-to-Boston region. It will then move into Maine. You can check county-by-county forecasts here: http://www.weather.gov.
The Nor'easter, the second in less than a week, has also caused more misery for folks who were still waiting for power after last weekend's storm. About 700,000 people in the region were without power as of 6pm tonight.
I landed at a dry and relatively mild Newark Airport around 9pm last night. By the time I hit the sack about 1am this morning at the vast worldwide JoeSentMe headquarters in the Hudson Valley, there already had been a dusting of snow. Things looked decent around 7am this morning--rain had washed away the snow--and then promptly went downhill. Huge flakes--big ones, with nasty big pointy teeth--started falling so fast you couldn't see more than a few feet ahead of you. Tree limbs fell, power flickered and the satellite service has been a sometimes thing.
But, hey, it's still winter ... so you should have been expecting the Spanish Inquisition.
3/3/18, 6:30AM ET, SATURDAY
EVERYTHING BUT THE LIONS ...
So how are you liking March so far? It hasn't come in so much like a lion as a bomb cyclone bringing everything but lions to huge chunks of the Western World.
Travel today will be better, but still not great. Expect residual high winds in the Northeast to ground and delay lots of flights. We're already looking at nearly 600 cancellations, mostly in the New York and Philadelphia areas, according to FlightStats.com. Amtrak will run on a modified schedule in the Northeast today. (See here.)
More than 400 flights (against a much smaller base of operations) have already been cancelled today in Europe as Dublin, Amsterdam, Geneva and, to a lesser extent, London, deal with the aftermath of several days of snow, ice and unseasonably frigid weather. Rail and road traffic is still sketchy in some areas, too.
If you're intent on traveling today, check with your airline first, of course. Most still have travel waivers in effect for various destinations.
Yesterday, of course, was a nightmare, as I warned you it would be. According to FlightStats.com, 4,200 flights were cancelled and 6,100 more delayed in the United States. In Europe, 2,100 flights were dumped and more than 6,600 delayed. European trains, usually much more reliable, were hampered by snow and ice in unexpected places and heavy crowds looking to avoid problems at the airports.
The worst place yesterday was, well, wherever you were stuck, I guess. For me, that was Bologna Centrale station waiting for a long-delayed Frecciarossa train to Rome Termini. When it finally arrived, we cruised out of the station only to stop in a tunnel for an interminable period. Bottom line: It ended up being eight hours door-to-door from an apartment in Bologna to arrival in Frascati, about 30 minutes south of Rome. That trip usually takes about half the time.
But, of course, that was just me. If you were in New York, you realized LaGuardia and Kennedy were effectively closed for much of the day. (About 40 percent of cancellations yesterday were at New York Metropolitan area airports.) Washington was little better and the Dulles control tower was closed for a bit thanks to high winds. And, of course, Amtrak essentially shut down trains trying to transverse the Northeast Corridor.
Overseas, snow, ice and bad visibility were murder on flight operations, especially in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Amsterdam. Many roads were closed in Northern Italy, too.
3/2/18, 3AM ET, FRIDAY
IN LIKE A LION DEPARTMENT ...
I'm stuck in the snow in Bologna, Italy, but there's worse news than that: both the U.S. East and West Coasts are about to be whacked with lousy, schedule-busting weather. In the East, a classic Nor'easter threatens travel from Virginia right up through New England. There'll be cold and wind and snow and rain and, for all I know, plagues of locust. Needless to say, if you can start your weekend early and not move, good idea. Out West, a system is going to push rain and cold weather down the Coast. Travel might not be as heavily affected, but, you know, who needs this stuff? Check with Weather.gov. Airlines are out with travel waivers--at least for the Eastern storm--and have already cancelled around 1,600 flights. Worst hit? The New York and Washington airports and Philadelphia. If you must travel, check your schedules carefully and have plenty of backup.
This column is Copyright © 2018 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2018 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.