It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and in all the coldest of ways.
The U.S. is swept by a massive winter storm and bitter cold ahead of Christmas, causing hundreds of flights to be canceled. This week, bitter cold, high winds, and winter storms forced U.S. airlines to cancel hundreds of flights. The record-low temperatures brought by this storm will affect travel nationwide and disrupt activity throughout the country as far south as Florida where agricultural crops are certain to be threatened.
Over 2,800 flights were scrubbed by carriers from Wednesday through Friday, according to tracking site FlightAware. Sunday represents the busiest travel time before Christmas, according to airlines.
There were the most canceled flights on Thursday at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Denver International Airport, and Chicago Midway International Airport. As a result of the snow, ice and high winds, airlines warned that travel from Seattle to Boston and North Carolina could be hampered.
In the wake of a difficult year for airlines, the weather could hurt travel days anticipated to be busy. According to United, holiday travel will be busier than Thanksgiving with an average of 440,000 passengers a day. According to the carrier, Jan. 2 will be the busiest day since the pandemic began.
Jon and Luana Eckhard of Boulder, Colorado planned for an early Christmas trip to Florida and made it back just in time to avoid the flight delays. It was already 15 degrees below zero in Boulder at the time of this story, and it was expected to get even colder.
The disruptions caused by bad weather and labor shortages in the spring and summer prompted an outcry from customers and politicians. Airlines trimmed their schedules in response.
The omicron wave of Covid caused hundreds of flight cancellations late last year and in early 2023.
For its part, American Airlines has been offering extra pay on peak holidays to help shore up staffing.
During the holiday travel season, American Airlines said it has all hands on deck to ensure customers are cared for, including when severe weather hits. A crucial aspect of our preparations was sizing the airline for the resources available and the operating conditions we face, as well as being able to react quickly to get our customers on their way once the weather cleared.”
Florida agriculture prepares for record cold temperatures brought by the arctic blast.
The storm will bring record-low temperatures to the sunshine state of Florida. Brian Taylor owner of BTC Creations commented on how it would affect his family’s Christmas plans, “living in Florida, we’re used to weather changes, but this year it’s cold. Christmas dinner is usually eaten outside with family, but this year we won’t be able to do that. The fire will be burning inside. Fortunately, our farmhouse was built during an era when fireplaces were real. This year we’ll fire it up and use some of the wood we cut down from Hurricane Ian that tore down an oak in our yard. Let’s just hope it doesn’t snow down here in Plant City.”