State News

Roads clear, air travel delays begin ahead of storm

Posted December 25, 2010 10:48 a.m. EST
Updated December 25, 2010 4:17 p.m. EST

— A winter storm bearing down on North Carolina late Saturday could cause travel problems along the East Coast this weekend.

"For Christmas Day itself, travel across a good portion of the state should be in pretty good shape," WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss said. "That could change quite a bit later on tonight and through at least the early part of the afternoon on Sunday."

Only sprinkles, flurries and perhaps a light snow-rain mix are forecast to fall during daylight hours Saturday. Overnight, though, the precipitation will turn to all snow, and snowfall could continue into Sunday afternoon.

About 3 to 4 percent more North Carolinians are expected to travel than did last year, when 3 million – more than a third of state's population – hit the roads or the skies, according to AAA Carolinas.

"The timing is really bad," Lon Anderson, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said. "The fact is Mother Nature is going to be a big factor. She's calling the shots this holiday season, and in many places, it will be very tough going."

State Department of Transportation crews are on hand this weekend, ready to clear roads for holiday travelers.

DOT and local crews have already laid brine, which is an anti-icing mixture of salt and water, on roads. DOT officials said that without rain to wash it away, the brine will last up to 72 hours.

Cary public works employees were scheduled to report to work at 4 p.m. Christmas Day.

Public Works Director Steve Brown advised the people park off the street if possible. “With friends and family here for the holidays, we encourage citizens to use their driveways and garages instead of the street for parking so that we can plow if needed,” he said. “We simply won’t be able to do our jobs well with lots of cars limiting street access.”

Flights delayed in East Coast corridor

All flights to Atlanta from Raleigh-Durham International Airport were canceled on Christmas Day. Across the nation, Delta Airlines says weather forced 500 cancellations Saturday, mostly out of the airline's Atlanta hub. Additional cancellations are possible as the weather develops.

Travelers should check about their flight with their airline before heading to the airport, airport spokesman Andrew Sawyer said. Most airlines are waiving flight-change fees for travelers whose flights are affected by weather.

Delta spokesman Kent Landers said the airline is encouraging customers to consider changing flight plans. Anyone with travel plans through Boston, New York, Baltimore, Washington and Newark, N.J., on Sunday or Monday can change their flight without a penalty as long as they travel by Dec. 29.

AirTran spokeswoman had canceled seven Saturday flights. Afternoon flights from Atlanta were delayed because of de-icing of planes. AirTran also offered to waive ticket-change fees for some flights scheduled for this weekend and Monday in the south and mid-Atlantic.