Large winter storms disrupted airport operations across the United States on Friday, causing thousands of holiday visitors to be stranded. Following roughly 2,700 flight cancellations on Thursday, FlightAware reports that just over 1,000 flights were canceled on Saturday.
Amtrak, the nation’s passenger railroad, has canceled dozens of trains until Christmas, making holiday travel difficult for tens of thousands of people. Authorities in several sections of Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Ohio recommended drivers cancel any non-essential trips due to the severe delays caused by the snow and accidents on the region’s highways.
Several airports in the United States had ground halts or de-icing delays imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) due to the winter weather.
The U.S. aviation industry “is under extraordinary strain,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on CNN after two storms and heavy winds closed airports around the country. Buttigieg claimed that on Thursday, about 10% of flights in the United States were called off.
After 11,300 flights were delayed on Thursday, another 10,400 flights in the United States were postponed on Friday, with more than 40% of those flights being operated by American Airlines (AAL.O), United Airlines (UAL.O), Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), and Southwest Airlines (LUV.N).
On Friday, Southwest canceled 1,238 flights, or 29% of its schedule, while Alaska Airlines (ALK.N) canceled 507, or 64% of its total. On Friday, 357 flights (or 63%) were rescheduled or canceled at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Even though the FAA had removed a ground stop because of snow and ice, delays there averaged nearly three hours as of late Friday.
Nearly half of all outgoing flights were canceled at Detroit Metro, while the figure was 70% at Portland, 38% at New York’s LaGuardia, 29% at Chicago O’Hare, and 27% at Boston. Wind chills reached -24 degrees Fahrenheit in Chicago, putting residents at risk (minus 31 Celsius).
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