National News

Snow, ice in north delay flights from Carolinas

Posted December 24, 2008 8:26 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:11 p.m. EDT

— Triangle travelers trying to get to New York, New Jersey and other destinations in the Northeast are feeling the pain from weather-related airline delays stretching across the country.

A spokesman at Raleigh-Durham International Airport said Wednesday that fliers could expect delays of up to 90 minutes for flights to New York City's Kennedy, Newark's Liberty and Cleveland's Hopkins airports.

He advised those who are traveling and those expecting arrivals by air to check with their airline by phone or Internet before leaving for the airport.

Travelers out of Charlotte experienced similar delays on flights headed north.

Hundreds of holiday travelers spent the night in Chicago's O'Hare airport Tuesday and others faced delayed or canceled flights and highways choked by snow and ice as storms kept up their assault on northern states.

 Conditions improved Wednesday but highways were still dangerously slippery in some areas.

More snow fell in the Midwest, where the National Weather Service said up to 4 inches was possible in Chicago. The Northwest faced more snow and sleet, with up to 20 inches possible in the Cascade range in Washington, and icy, wet weather spread over the Northeast.

"We're seeing quite a bit of messiness out there," said weather service meteorologist Ed Shimon, who's been at work at the agency's Lincoln, Ill., office for six straight days, a period when the state has seen snow, ice and subzero temperatures. "It's something different every day – never a dull moment."

At least 18 highway deaths had been blamed on the weather.

The New York metro area's Kennedy and Newark airports reported arrival delays of up to 3 hours, the Federal Aviation Administration reported.

"The airlines are dealing with nothing but unhappy customers," said Mike Conway, spokesman for Detroit's Metropolitan Airport, where delays were reported in departures and arrivals because of conditions elsewhere in the country.

South of Portland, Ore., crews shut down a section of Interstate 205 at Oregon City because a buildup of ice and snowbanks, said Dave Thompson, public affairs manager of Oregon Department of Transportation. The department also was requiring tire chains on all highways in the Portland metro area.

The weather service posted winter storm warnings and advisories for large parts of the West, plus parts of the Midwest and the Northeast.

Across Massachusetts, icy roads caused numerous accidents Wednesday morning, and state Trooper Thomas Murphy Interstate 495 in Middleborough and Wareham was closed because of wrecks.

"The rain and sleet just hit everywhere at once, and we're encouraging everybody to reduce speed and take it easy out there," Massachusetts Trooper Thomas Murphy said.

Police in southeastern Pennsylvania reported a spate of ice-caused accidents and traffic delays, including one 22-vehicle crash. No serious injuries were reported.

Motorists in Michigan had to cope with drifting snow in places in addition to ice-covered pavement.

"It looks like all areas should see a white Christmas," meteorologist Dave Kook said from the weather service office in Oakland County's White Lake Township. "There's enough snow on the ground that it won't all melt away with the rain.'

Despite more snow falling Wednesday in the Seattle area, operations at Sea-Tac Airport were back to normal Wednesday, said spokeswoman Terri-Ann Betancourt. She said the last of thousands of passengers who were stranded by weekend cancellations were gone by Tuesday, and the only flight cancellations were caused by delays or cancellations at other airports.

"I've lived here 16 years and this is the first time I've thought 'I wish it would rain!'" Betancourt said.

The weather service said she could get her wish, at least briefly, with snow showers changing to rain Christmas Eve.