Winter storm: More than 2,000 flights cancelled as US braces for ‘once-in-a-generation event’
At least 2,200 flights got cancelled across the United States as a major winter storm swept through the country, with the National Weather Service (NWS) calling it a “once-in-a-generation type event.”
The chill is expected to stay for the Christmas weekend, making this the coldest Christmas in about 40 years, say forecasters.
Those hoping to spend the Christmas holidays with their loved ones were left disappointed after the airlines cancelled more than 2,200 US flights by 1 pm ET on Thursday, and proactively cancelled more than 900 flights on Friday, according to the flight tracking site FlightAware.
And the flight delays were even more pronounced, affecting more than 3,700 on Thursday.
Chicago and Denver were hit hardest by flight cancellations on Thursday, FlightAware data show.
At Chicago’s O'Hare International Airport, flights delays were averaging 159 minutes, as snow and ice made it impossible for an early take off, the Federal Aviation Administration stated in a notice, reports CNN.
Anticipating further travel disruptions, major airlines like United, Delta and American, have started to waive fees for travellers who wish to reschedule their flights.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden warned US citizens travelling during the Christmas week to be careful and leave early if possible to avoid the massive storm expected to hit several states.
“This is not like a snow day when you were a kid. This is serious stuff,” Biden said.
According to the NWS, bone-chilling temperatures of -50F (-45C) and -70F were expected by the end of this week in some parts of the country.
Weather forecasters believe that this winter storm could transform into a "bomb cyclone", a type of powerful, rapidly strengthening storm, by Friday.
The winter storm is expected to trigger snowfall and powerful winds, causing damage and power outages in the Midwest and Canada.