Winter Storms Hit Eastern U.S., Snarl Post-Holiday Travel

The severe winter weather battered the U.S. on Thursday, causing flight delays and dangerous road conditions for holiday travelers in the Northeast and Ohio Valley.

A winter storm brought snow to the Northeast on Thursday, where it was expected to bring up to two feet of snow, possible flooding and wrecking post-holiday plans for thousands of travelers. Photo: El Mundo Economìa & Negocios/Flickr

By mid-morning, more than 750 flights had been canceled, and more than 3,800 were delayed, agencies reported.

All runways at Philadelphia International Airport were open yesterday, but that didn’t prevent cancellation of physical therapist Mindy Bartscherer’s flight to Minneapolis.

The doctor and her son intended to visit family but instead they lost multiple hours waiting forlornly in the baggage claim area for a ride back home.

“We were going to have dinner and see my 2-year-old niece,” Mindy Bartscherer said of their unfulfilled plans for Wednesday night.

A passenger who had been stuck on a plane for three hours on Christmas night recorded an American Airlines pilot apologizing for the situation.

“I’ve made more personal phone calls than I know what to do with,” the pilot said at the time.”

“I’ve spent my last quarter, to be honest with you. It’s beyond reproach. I have no words to tell you… to tell you how sorry I am. This is way above our heads… by people that obviously, in my humble opinion, don’t have a clue what they’re doing,” he added.

The National Weather Service has already issued storm warnings in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, as well as much of the Northeast, and predicted that the bad weather would create “treacherous” driving conditions.

According to meteorologists, more than six inches of snow is expected to fall in those regions, while the area from western New York up into central Maine could get from 12 to 18 inches.

CBC writes that more than 30 tornadoes were reported, arriving with little warning on Christmas Day in the Gulf Coast region.

Meanwhile, retailers still expected holiday sales would continue with consumers looking for winter items.

“People are out spending anyway. Weather can trigger what you purchase – not if you purchase, but what you purchase,” said Evan Gold, senior vice president of client services at Planalytics, which tracks weather for businesses including retailers.

Daniel Ivancic, of Tonawanda, revealed that he bought a snowmobile last winter that sat largely idle with snow totals well below average.

“I waited and waited and, no snow. This winter it seemed like the same thing was going to happen until the storm hit,” Ivancic said. “I’m just going to take advantage of every minute of it.”

Police is currently patrolling the New York State Thruway from Buffalo to Albany. It has already been reported as many as 50 accidents, mostly involving cars that slipped off snowy roads overnight.

Virginia State Police has recorded nearly 700 car crashes on Wednesday, most of which were caused by the storm and ice around the Interstate 81 corridor, said spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

A 14-year-old child was killed in a crash near Lynchburg, but police is still investigating if the weather was to blame, Reuters writes.

“The road conditions were slick at the time, but it’s still being determined if it was weather-related,” Geller said on Thursday.

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