Snow snarls air travel plans

Posted December 20, 2009 7:54 p.m. EST
Updated December 20, 2009 11:25 p.m. EST

— A fierce weekend storm dropped record snowfall and stranded travelers up the coast from Virginia to New England, and forced at least 70 cancellations at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Airports in the Northeast that were jammed up Saturday due to the snow storm were working their way back to normal operations Sunday.

However, at RDU, some flights to New York City area's three major airports, Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia International Airport and Boston's Logan airport were canceled Sunday.

Passengers waited anxiously Sunday as airlines tried to get passengers to their destinations.

Charles Hunter spent the afternoon at RDU waiting to pick up his sister, who was flying in from New York.

“She was supposed to be coming in at 3:30 p.m., and she called me and said it was delayed to 4 p.m., then it was 4:15 p.m. So, now I don't know. She’s on the flight so she can't contact me to let me know it may be a little later. So now, I’m not sure,” Hunter said.

Sam Garvens and her father, Jim, were at RDU trying to get to Colorado to spend the holidays with relatives.

“I’ve been kind of watching the weather and … I didn't expect it to be quite this big,” Jim Garvens said.

The Garvens ran into problems with their connecting flight to Washington, D.C., which was canceled.

“So, (now) we're not getting out until Wednesday, in the morning, but they said they can extend our stay,” Sam Garvens said.

Travelers should check with their airline before going to the airport.

Snow storm blasts East Coast

Residents throughout the mid-Atlantic and Northeast mostly holed up for the weekend, then dug out from as much as 2 feet of snow to find sunny, mostly calm skies Sunday.

On the cusp of the winter solstice, the storm dropped 16 inches of snow Saturday on Reagan National Airport outside Washington – the most ever recorded there for a single December day – and gave southern New Jersey its highest single-storm snowfall totals in nearly four years.

The National Weather Service said the storm gave Philadelphia, which began keeping records in 1884, its second-largest snowfall: 23.2 inches. Even more was recorded in the Philadelphia suburb of Medford, N.J., at 24 inches.

The 13.4 inches that fell Sunday at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, just south of Providence, easily eclipsed the date's previous record – 6.3 inches in 1995, according to the National Weather Service.

Around New York City, the brunt of the storm hit Long Island, with whiteout conditions and 26.3 inches in Upton, a record since measurements began in 1949. Nearly 11 inches of snow fell on New York City, and the storm could be the worst the city has seen since about 26 inches fell in February 2006, National Weather Service meteorologist Patrick Maloit said.

Snowstorm hits N.C. mountains hard

In the North Carolina mountains, 17 inches of snow fell in Boone and 14 inches blanketed Asheville. Person County saw nearly 7 inches of snow.

Counties in the WRAL viewing area also saw measurable amounts of snow from Friday's storm: 3.8 inches in Alamance County, 3 inches in Vance County, 1.3 inches in Durham County, an inch in Roanoke Rapids and Chapel Hill, and a trace in Franklin, Johnston, Lee, Wake and Moore counties.

Rain had washed much of that snow away by Saturday morning.