Raleigh, N.C. — Rough weather forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights across the country Wednesday, and the ripple effect reached Raleigh-Durham International Airport during busy post-holiday travel.
Airport officials didn’t have exact numbers but said many travelers were experiencing cancellations or delays due to inclement weather in other cities. They encouraged travelers and those who need to come to the airport to pick up passengers to call first or check online for possible delays.
Tressie Daniels came to pick up a loved one Wednesday morning only to see the flight status change about every 15 minutes.
“When I got here at 9:30, everything was pretty much on time,” she said. “And then as I sat here it started with the delays and cancellations, and it’s just been rolling through since.”
Joe and Valerie Rainman came from Kansas to Raleigh to visit their son, who recently moved here. The couple, along with their dog, was scheduled to flight out to Dallas on Christmas morning when their flight was canceled because of the storm system moving over Texas.
Their afternoon flight was canceled, too.
"Yep, we spent the whole day," said Valerie Rainman, who was back with her husband and pup at RDU on Wednesday. "We asked them if we could just come back tomorrow, so we could have the day. It was a beautiful day. Nope, they kept us here all day."
Rebooking their flight for Wednesday was frustrating because of weather-related delays, Valerie Rainman said. She joked that she now knows every inch of the newly remodeled Terminal 2 at RDU.
"One of the baggage carriers came by and waved at me," she said. "I feel like I live here now."
Heavy rain and winds affected regional traffic as well. The North Carolina Highway Patrol reported 186 emergency calls from midnight through 5 p.m. Wednesday, with the majority of calls for crashes.
“Particularly in Wake County, we have responded to approximately 10 collisions, mostly property damage,” First Sgt. Jeff Gordon said.
Interstate 85, near mile marker 206, in Granville County was also a high-volume spot for crashes, he said. Water on Interstate 40 in Durham County, near N.C. Highway 55, was slowing down traffic about 1 p.m.
Many motorists are simply going too fast on rain-soaked roadways and losing control or hydroplaning, Gordon said. He urged drivers to slow down, increase their following distance, watch for flooding and look out for downed tree limbs or other debris.
The state Department of Transportation also warned that ferry routes could be suspended Wednesday because of high winds. Ferry riders were encouraged to call to find out whether their routes are affected.