Local News

Winter Weather Makes for a Traveler's Nightmare

Posted January 22, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST

— The latest blast of winter weather is giving travelers up and down the East Coast quite a headache. Passengers were socked in by snow and ice, and many don't know when they will get home.

Paul McCormack flew to Charlotte Saturday for what he thought would be a one-day business trip. Then the winter storm hit, socking airports in Charlotte and Atlanta with snow and ice. On Sunday, RDU was the closest McCormack could get to his home in Baltimore.

"I was in yesterday from Baltimore to Charlotte, on my way out at 10:30 when the flight was canceled," McCormack says. "I went ahead and booked as quick as I could but the earliest they could do was 4:00 in the afternoon."

Most of RDU's early flights were canceled Sunday morning. Many of the flights that did get off the ground were delayed.

Workers scrambled to de-ice planes and get back on schedule. Waiting passengers caught up on their reading -- or their sleep.

Zandrea Gaston does not know when she will get back to New Jersey.

"I [called] this morning," Gaston says. "They said everything was fine and the flight would be leaving and that it might be a little delayed, but when I got to the airport I found out it was canceled."

Sunday's blast of winter weather could affect business travelers on Monday Fifty planes stay over each night at RDU. If they have to be de-iced Monday morning, passengers could face another round of delays.

RDU spokesman Mike Blanton advises air travelers to call their airlines, not the airport, to determine the status of their flight. Last Tuesday's snow caused delays on Wednesday, and Thursday's snow delayed flights on Friday.

While the weather played havoc on air travel, leaving passengers frustrated and reservations agents scrambling, power company crews are breathing a sigh of relief. "We were expecting and prepared for ice accumulation in the 1/4 to 1/2-inch range," says CP&L spokesman Lee Mazzocchi.

Because that did not happen, CP&L crews are heading south to South Carolina and Georgia where storm damage and outages are more extensive, leaving more than 500,000 customers without power.

The crews will spend the next two or three days doing what they thought they would be doing in the Triangle.

"The peak of our outage over the last two days caused maybe 4,000 customers to be without power, which is a small portion of our total system customers," Mazzocchi says.

Mazzocchi also says it has been a typical power outage weekend.