Bloomberg News

Snowstorms, Cloud Cover Cause Air Delays in Eastern U.S.

February 24, 2012

(Updates airline delays in ninth paragraph.)

Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Snowstorms, cloud cover and tornadoes in the eastern half of the U.S. are causing air traffic delays in Chicago, Atlanta and New York, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Delays of as much as two hours were reported at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and more of than an hour at LaGuardia Airport in New York, said Todd Lehmacher, a spokesman for US Airways Group Inc. Some flights in Atlanta were backed up for 45 minutes or more, the FAA said.

“There is a storm up over northern Ohio that is laying down a stripe of snow that is causing all the air traffic delays in Chicago,” said Paul Walker, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “Also associated with this storm there will be a cold front sweeping through the Southeast.”

Tornado watches were issued from West Virginia to Alabama, where a school had its roof damaged by high winds, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

To the north, winter storm warnings and advisories stretch from northern Illinois to northern Maine, the National Weather Service said. Environment Canada issued snow warnings across Ontario and Quebec, including Montreal, where 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 centimeters) of snow may fall.

Chicago Snow

Four to 6 inches of snow fell in the Chicago area overnight, Walker said. Snow showers may continue through the day, according to the weather service. About 240 flights were canceled at the city’s two major airports, the Chicago Aviation Department said.

The southern part of the system may also bring severe thunderstorms to coastal areas of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, the Storm Prediction Center said.

American Airlines canceled 31 O’Hare departures today, while its American Eagle regional carrier grounded 27, said Tim Smith, a spokesman. Delta Air Lines Inc. canceled 10 O’Hare departures, said Anthony Black, a spokesman for the Atlanta- based carrier.

United Continental Holdings Inc., the world’s biggest carrier, canceled 100 O’Hare departures, about a sixth of its daily flights out of the airport, said Michael Trevino, a spokesman. Southwest Airlines Co. grounded 26 departures from Midway, with delays of as much as two hours, said Brad Hawkins, a spokesman.

Delays of more than 90 minutes have also been reported at Newark’s Liberty International Airport because of low ceilings, according to the FAA.

East Coast Wind

Tomorrow, winds may gust from 45 to 50 miles (72 to 80 kilometers) per hour along the East Coast. A high wind watch has been issued for New York and Long Island starting tonight into tomorrow.

Wind advisories and warnings have also been issued for much of the eastern U.S. from Massachusetts to Florida, according to the weather service.

“These winds could bring down trees, power poles and lines and make driving hazardous,” the agency said.

The winds may hinder air travel tomorrow as well, Walker said by telephone.

--With assistance from Mary Schlangenstein in Dallas. Editors: Charlotte Porter, Bill Banker

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at bsullivan10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bill Banker at bbanker@bloomberg.net


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