A severe Arctic winter storm has forced major airports to cancel thousands of flights, with experts predicting the snowiest Christmas in decades in US and Canada, due to the cold. A severe Arctic winter storm has left more than 650,000 people without power in several states in the US and Canada.
Blizzards bring damaging winds and freezing temperatures, which can potentially lead to frostbite. Canada and much of the United States are under severe winter warnings that extend from coast to coast and south to the US-Mexico border.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), parts of the country are expected to experience temperatures as low as -50F (-45C) and as low as -70F, with significant frostbite risks through this weekend.
More than 2,200 U.S. flights were canceled for Friday due to heavy snow and freezing temperatures ahead of Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, sparking anger among travelers. According to flight tracking site FlightAware, more than 5,900 flights have already been canceled in the US. WestJet canceled 266 flights in Canada on Friday.
“Flight activity at #LaGuardiaAirport may be disrupted by heavy rain and strong winds later today and Friday. Travelers, please confirm flight status with your airline before heading to the airport.” LaGuardia Airport updated on Twitter.
On Thursday, 2,400 flights were canceled in the US due to snow, rain, snow, wind, and cold temperatures. And the situation isn’t getting any better with more flights expected to be delayed or canceled in the coming days, spoiling Christmas festivities in the states, and reports of 125 flight cancellations scheduled for Saturday.
Among the areas hardest hit by the weather complications were Chicago and Denver on Thursday, where a troubling number of arrivals and departures at each airport and hundreds of flights faced cancellations. Meanwhile, in New York, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an alert for Newark flights and travelers to expect air travel disruptions, due to freezing cold temperatures in the coming days.
Many airlines have recently issued weather waivers to allow passengers to change their itineraries at short notice without penalty. Meanwhile, major airlines including United, Delta, and American have offered discounted fees to passengers for rescheduled flights.
Finally, the Transportation Security Administration is recommending arriving at the airport earlier than usual for travelers who still want to fly on their scheduled departure flight.