GO
Loading...

Storm causes flight cancellations, driving nightmare

Wednesday, 5 Feb 2014 | 1:05 PM ET
Winter storm slams Midwest and Northeast
Wednesday, 5 Feb 2014 | 10:06 AM ET
The Weather Channel's Mike Seidel reports that Boston has received six inches of snow in four and a half hours and that up to 650,000 customers are without power.

Another severe ice and snowstorm blew through the Midwest and Northeast on Wednesday, grounding more than 2,500 flights and utility crews worked to restore power for hundreds of thousands of people from Arkansas to New Jersey.

Connecticut's governor and legislative leaders agreed to delay the start of the General Assembly's annual session because of snow. State offices were closed in Topeka, Kan., for a second-straight day. States of emergency were declared in New Jersey and Mississippi.

Two planes became stuck on taxiways at snowy Detroit Metropolitan Airport, requiring trucks to push or pull the regional Delta jets out of the snow. On Tuesday night, a Southwest Airlines jet arriving from Denver got stuck in a snow bank at Kansas City International Airport.

"The storm is having a huge impact on air travel in the Northeast," FlightAware CEO Daniel Baker said in an email to CNBC.

By early afternoon, more than 2,900 flights were canceled and 4,900 were delayed. Airports in New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia posted the most disruptions. (See the latest air travel status here.)

"If you can avoid travel this AM, do it!" the National Weather Service tweeted.

Almost 900,000 homes and businesses were without electricity, local power companies told Reuters. Pennsylvania was the hardest hit with 640,000 customers knocked out. In other power outages, Maryland had 140,000; New Jersey, 62,000;;Arkansas, 48,000; Kentucky, 10,000; Delaware, 6,000; Indiana, 2,500 and Connecticut, 300, according to The Associated Press.

In New York City, a subway line temporarily lost power north of Times Square.

Many airlines eased their policies and fees on changing flights, including United, America, Delta and JetBlue.

Forecasters said 115 million people in 32 states were in the path of the storm.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned all vehicles from Interstate 84. "As this winter storm progresses, safety continues to be our top priority," Cuomo said in a statement. "I urge all New Yorkers to stay off the roads and monitor news and weather reports throughout the day for updates."

In New Jersey, salt supplies for the roads were running low, NBCNews reported.

(Read more: Wicked winter weather chills U.S. economy, stocks)

Amtrak shut down service on its Keystone route between Philadelphia, and Harrisburg, Pa., according to a tweet from its Northeast Corridor account. New Jersey Transit and Metro North commuter trains into New York City were reporting significant delays due to weather and at least one disabled train.

Mike Benjamin, CEO of the FlightView real time tracking service, said the storm was especially disruptive for aviation because "it's heavy, wet snow and it's coming down fast and that makes the de-icing process extra tricky."

" It's like when you're shoveling your driveway and by the time you finish you have to start over at the other end," he said.

The storm was particularly tough on several hub airports, which caused the disruptions to ripple across the country. As a result, 10 percent of all U.S. flights were canceled Wednesday. "That's on par with the polar vortex storms," he said.

"Anytime you cancel a whole day of flights, you have some people who say, 'Sure, I'll rebook,' but a lot of them are just going to give up," especially business travelers who missed a meeting, Benjamin said. That turns into an economic impact on the economy, he said, because that's money that won't be spent.

On Monday, masFlight issued a report stating that January's weather-related travel disruptions cost passengers more than $2.5 billion and airlines $75 million to $150 million, About 30 million passengers ran into canceled and delayed flights last month, according to the report by the cloud-based data and software company specializing in airline operations.

—By CNBC's Amy Langfield. Follow her on Twitter at @AmyLangfield. CNBC wire services contributed to this story.

Follow Road Warrior on Twitter at @CNBCtravel.

  Price   Change %Change
UAL
---
USG1
---
DAL
---
JBLU
---
AAL
---

Featured

Travel

U.S. News