Weather

Early morning flights cancelled at RDU

Posted January 10, 2011 8:36 a.m. EST
Updated January 10, 2011 11:42 p.m. EST

— Everything was running smoothly at Raleigh-Durham International Airport Monday night, but at least 25 flights have been cancelled for Tuesday morning due to inclement weather.

Most of the cancelled flights are between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., said RDU spokesperson Mindy Hamlin. She recommended that travelers call their airline Tuesday to learn about possible delays or cancellations.

Delta Airlines canceled all flights out of RDU until at least 11 a.m. Tuesday as a result of the snow and sleet slamming the Southeast.

The winter weather began rolling across the South on Sunday, coating bridges and roads with snow, sleet and freezing rain. The governors of Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee declared emergencies and schools and colleges called off classes. Snow and ice had blanketed several cities, including up to 3 inches in parts of Atlanta, which rarely gets so much.

Thousands of flights were canceled at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest.

Delta Air Lines canceled 330 flights Sunday and another 1,400 flights Monday. AirTran Airways canceled 14 flights for Sunday and another 270 for Monday, spokesman Christopher White said. Reed said officials did not want people to be stranded at the airport or on planes.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport spokesman David Magana said 200 flights, or about a quarter of the schedule, were canceled in anticipation of the weather.

As those hundreds of travelers attempt to re-book their flights, they will face longer waits, higher prices and more crowded planes, travel agents say.

"In general, the economy is picking up," said Eddie Albertson, of Travel Management Partners.

"Business travel is back, and there are supply and demand issues.  The airlines haven't increased the seat count, so they have some pricing traction and they can charge a higher fare."

Claudine Manchec was trying to get to France from RDU Monday. But the snow to the south caused a wave of cancellations in Atlanta and Charlotte, and the forecast for Raleigh prompted airlines to reconsider all flights.

"The number one thing we monitor is the weather," said Mindy Hamlin, a spokeswoman for the airport.

"When it gets below freezing, and we see the precipitation fall, that's when we start anti-icing on the runways," she said.

Storms prove deadly on roads

Two people died in northern Louisiana, where icy weather led to dangerous driving conditions.

Trooper Mark Dennis says that in Lincoln Parish, a 62-year-old woman died Sunday evening after a car she was riding ran off a state highway and struck a tree. Guadalupe Marroquin died at a Ruston hospital a short time later. Dennis says troopers reported icy roads in the area at the time.

State police also say a woman died Sunday in a single-vehicle crash on an ice covered highway. trooper Cordell Williams says Kaneshia Logan, 30, died when her SUV slid down an embankment on Interstate 20 and hit a tree.

Sleet, ice and several inches of snow — as much as 9 inches in some places — blanketed states from Louisiana to the Carolinas mostly unaccustomed to arctic weather and caused at least one death in Louisiana.

In Atlanta, under three to four inches of snow and ice, state officials were forced to move Monday's inauguration of newly elected Gov. Nathan Deal from the state Capitol steps inside to the shelter of the House chamber. The inaugural gala was scrapped to keep supporters off treacherous roads.

In Alabama, roads were coated with ice in Shelby County, just south of Birmingham, where Waffle House waitress Stephanie McGougin served eggs and grits to the few diners who could make it inside early Monday. There were plenty of empty seats at the restaurant, which is normally busy but was virtually deserted.

Despite officials imploring people to stay off the roads, interstates around Atlanta were clogged with cars Monday.

Unlike other times when an inch or two of snow coats the ground, temperatures were not expected above freezing into Tuesday, so it won't melt.