Hundreds of flights delayed, canceled amid storms
NEW YORK (NBC) -- Some 683 flights were canceled or delayed early Wednesday as storms across the U.S. continued to cause travel chaos for millions of travelers.
Before daybreak on Wednesday, the travel website flightsStats.com reported that 372 flights were canceled and 311 delayed. The disruptions come as many families will be trying to make their way home after the holiday celebrations.
Travel on the roads was also affected with icy conditions reported across the nation’s midsection.
The storms contributed to a 21-vehicle pile-up Tuesday that shut down a major highway in Oklahoma City, as well as tens of thousands of power outages.
The storm started on the West Coast over the weekend and made its way across the country over Christmas, bringing snow, ice and even rare winter tornadoes to a wide swath of the country.
On Wednesday, the storm will continue to move east, through the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states, with blizzard warnings in effect for parts of Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and Arkansas, according to the National Weather Center.
The blizzard warning in Ohio, along with an expected 8 to 12 inches of snow accumulation in Cleveland, prompted United Airlines to cancel at least 60 percent of their flights at Cleveland Hopkins Airport beginning at noon on Wednesday, according to NBC affiliate WKYC.com.
The disruption caused a knock-on effect on further cancelations at airports around the country.
Winter storm warnings are stretching from Oklahoma to Pennsylvania, while New England and much of the Northeast can expect rain and gusting winds on Wednesday and Thursday. The Weather Channel's Mike Seidel reports.
In Indiana, an expected 4 to 9 inches of snow led the governor's office to issue an advisory Tuesday evening that "non-essential employees" who live in areas where snow emergencies have been declared do not have to come to work.
Further south, drenching rains and blustery winds moved early Wednesday across Georgia.
The severe weather system was set to lash the Carolinas later in the day before taking aim next at the heavily populated Northeast corridor.
“Expect major delays at the major Northeast airport hubs Wednesday due to low cloud ceilings and strong winds,” weather.com reported. “These delays may persist into Thursday morning due to low clouds, wind, and potential changeover to light snow.”
In Connecticut, snow is expected to start falling in the afternoon, and could cause icy conditions for the evening commute, NBCConnecticut.com reported.
On Tuesday, holiday travelers in the nation's midsection battled treacherous driving conditions from freezing rain and blizzard conditions from the same fast-moving storms. Emergency service provider MedStar told NBCDFW.com that it responded to 71 crashes in the Fort Worth area between 5 p.m. and 9:50 p.m. Tuesday evening.
In Arkansas, highway department officials said the state was fortunate the snowstorm hit on Christmas Day when many travelers were already at their destinations. Texas, meanwhile, dealt with high winds and slickened highways.
On Christmas Day, more than 500 flights nationwide were canceled, according to the flight tracker FlightAware.com. More than half were canceled into and out of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport that got a few inches of snow.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.