Hundreds of US Flights Canceled Amid Extreme Weather

Source: Newsweek; ABCNews; Reuters
Date: 14tth January 2024

More than 750 flights departing from or arriving at U.S. airports have been canceled so far on Sunday—with thousands more shelved in the past two days—as major winter storms impact air travel.

Flight-tracking data by FlightAware suggests that, as of 9 a.m. ET on Sunday, 756 flights within, into or out of America have been canceled, while a further 1,074 flights have been delayed. On Friday, nearly 2,300 scheduled flights were withdrawn, with a further 2,452 left on the tarmac on Saturday.

The travel disruption comes after the U.S. faced several different storm fronts this week that carpeted many contiguous states with at least an inch of snowfall. Over 95 million people are under wind-chill warnings, advisories or watches as an Arctic blast is set to hover over America for several days.

Denver International Airport in Colorado has so far seen the most cancelations on Sunday, with 59 departures and 82 arrivals shelved.

Western central states were subject to a winter storm that brought blizzard conditions in the week. This front then shifted northeastward towards the central Midwest and Great Lakes, bringing heavy snow to the region.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington state has seen the next most cancelations—51 departures and 49 arrivals. Buffalo Niagara International Airport has seen 46 departures axed and Chicago O’Hare International Airport has seen 48 arrivals dropped.

Northwestern states faced heavy precipitation from three Pacific storms—including two “powerful” atmospheric river storms on Monday and Tuesday—bringing rare blizzard warnings for the areas surrounding Seattle.

At the same time, the National Weather Service has said the Arctic blast would maintain heavy lake-effect snow—when a cold air mass moves across long expanses of warmer lake water—downwind of the Great Lakes. Up to 3 feet of snow is possible in parts of western and northern New York bordering Lakes Erie and Ontario, with “near blizzard conditions” in places such as Niagara as winds reach 50 mph.

United Airlines has so far seen the most cancelations on Sunday, with 222 flights impacted. It is followed by Alaska Airlines, which has dropped 162, and Southwest Airlines, which has grounded 148 flights.

United Airlines has published a list of airports it has travel routes from that have been impacted by severe weather.

The airline’s service has also been impacted by the grounding of its entire fleet of Boeing 737 Max 9 planes after a section of the fuselage of one plane flying from Portland, Oregon to Ontario, Canada broke off mid-flight.

Southwest has also provided a list of airports affected by the winter storms.

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