Holiday travel: Snow cancels hundreds of U.S. flights, delays thousands

Nov. 27 (UPI) — Severe winter weather has forced cancellations for hundreds of U.S. flights over the past two days, and thousands more were delayed — due mainly to a snowstorm in the Rocky Mountains.

Heavy snow moved through the Rockies and the Midwest after blanketing Denver with more than 10 inches of snow, forecasters said. Up to 18 inches were expected in some locations.

Chicago O’Hare International and Minneapolis/St. Paul International airports had the highest number of delays Wednesday, with 321 and 201, respectively, according to FlightAware.

The tracking website said more than 4,500 flights into or out of the United States had been delayed by Wednesday evening, after nearly 5,000 a day earlier. Overall, 678 flights were scrapped Wednesday.

This Thanksgiving holiday travel period is expected to be one of the busiest in U.S. history — with Tuesday forecast to be the single busiest air travel day ever.

A “bomb cyclone” in the western United States is responsible for harsh weather conditions that have influenced air travel, including heavy snow, rain and powerful wind gusts. Forecasters said the storm “could be historic in its strength and scope.” It produced a record low sea level pressure when it came ashore in northern California and southern Oregon Tuesday.

The National Weather Service said a strong low-tracking storm will make its way across the Great Lakes Wednesday before slamming the New England region by nightfall.

“Given the tight pressure gradient with this low-pressure system, very windy conditions are likely across much of the Midwest and Ohio Valley region where winds could gust in excess of 50 mph at times,” the NWS advisory said, warning residents to expect significant travel disruptions.

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