Flights canceled at O'Hare, Midway, in face of East Coast storm
The massive winter storm hitting the Eastern U.S. tangled flights nationwide, with thousands of cancellations overall affecting airports including O'Hare and Midway.
According to FlightAware, more than 4,000 flights were canceled in the face of the colorfully named "bomb cyclone" bringing snow, bitter cold and strong winds to the East Coast.
So far, 263 flights have been canceled at O'Hare International Airport, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation at Flychicago.com. At Midway, 64 flights were canceled.
Both airports had delays averaging less than 15 minutes on other flights.
"Airlines at ORD proactively canceled 180+ flights today to East Coast cities due to weather in that part of country. Confirm flight status w/ your airline before heading airport," the aviation department warned via Twitter earlier in the day.
Passengers were advised to contact their airlines, some of which are offering advance rebooking for free. Southwest Airlines, for example, sent out its "flexible rebooking instructions" via Twitter.
The massive winter storm roared into the East Coast on Thursday, threatening to dump as much as 18 inches of snow from the Carolinas to Maine and unleashing hurricane-force winds and flooding that closed schools and offices and halted transportation systems. Eastern Massachusetts and most of Rhode Island braced for as much as 3 inches of snow per hour.
It began two days ago in the Gulf of Mexico, first hitting the Florida panhandle. It has prompted thousands of canceled flights, shuttered schools and businesses and sparked fears of coastal flooding and power outages.
Wind gusts of 50 mph to 60 mph, strong enough to cause downed trees and power lines, are predicted in places where the National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings. They include the Delmarva Peninsula, which includes parts of Delaware, Virginia and Maryland; coastal New Jersey; eastern Long Island, New York; and coastal eastern New England.
For most of today the storm will impact the Northeast, with Boston possibly getting up to 14 inches of snow, followed by unusual cold, National Weather Service Meteorologist Dan Peterson said.
The term "bomb cyclone" comes from the process of bombogensis, when the barometric pressure drops steeply in a short period.
The weather service expects 28 major cities across New England, eastern New York and the mid-Atlantic states will have record low temperatures by dawn on Sunday.
"As your governor, I am asking you, I am imploring you to stay home tomorrow," Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, said Wednesday.
The blast of winter weather and plunging temperatures that has gripped much of the U.S. in recent days already has taken a human toll.
The number of deaths linked to the relentless cold had risen to at least 17 on Wednesday. Two homeless men were found dead in Houston, where police said the deaths were believed to be the result of "exposure to frigid weather." Deaths also were reported in Mississippi, Michigan and other states.
• The Associated Press contributed to this report.