Photo: Scott Olson / Staff (Getty Images)
Yesterday, airlines began canceling flights as a winter storm swept the country. Unfortunately for travelers whose Christmas plans were upended, today’s been no better than yesterday was. And it will likely only continue to get worse.
The Washington Post reports that more than 1,500 flights were canceled this morning after more than 600 were canceled yesterday. The outlook for tomorrow isn’t good, either. High winds and snow are expected to cause major disruptions in Chicago, Detroit, and Minneapolis-St. Paul, while low clouds may cause additional trouble in Atlanta, Boston, and Denver.
Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport had already canceled about 20 percent of its flights when the article was published “in anticipation of winter weather arriving to the Chicagoland area later today.” Meanwhile, Midway had already canceled about 25 percent of its flights by 8:00 am. On one of the top two busiest air travel days of the year, that’s a big deal to a lot of holiday travelers.
But it’s not just flight cancellations that are causing problems with holiday travel. There’s a massive storm sweeping across the majority of the country, making it dangerous for a lot of people to drive in snow, freezing rain, and subzero temperatures. For example, in South Dakota, a number of drivers found themselves stranded overnight and in need of rescue.
More than 100 vehicles got stuck near Rapid City, SD yesterday, forcing emergency personnel to find passengers a place to stay. Sleeping on a cot in a shelter certainly isn’t ideal heading into a holiday weekend, but it’s absolutely better than spending the night in your car in below-freezing temperatures.
“Many vehicles are failing in the subzero temperatures. In conditions like these, even minutes outside can be life-threatening,” said the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office in a statement. But not everyone was willing to leave their cars behind for warmer accommodations. “A few people have chosen to stay with their vehicles and have adequate fuel and supplies. We remain in contact with those people in case their situation changes.”
Even Amtrak and Greyhound are canceling service. Amtrak said it’s no longer running a number of cross-country and midwestern routes “in an abundance of caution and in consultation with state transportation departments, host railroads, emergency managers, and weather forecasters.” Greyhound, meanwhile, canceled at least 20 bus routes throughout the midwest.
Considering how bad the weather already is and how much worse it’s expected to get, even choosing to drive may be too dangerous to be worth it. Choosing to stay home will obviously disappoint a lot of travelers, but the way we see it, it’s better to get to see them next Christmas than take unnecessary risks that may be life-threatening. It definitely sucks to be alone on a major holiday, but please, stay safe out there, y’all.