More flights in the United States were canceled Thursday than any other single day so far this year as the country braces for yet another winter storm that is expected to hit the Midwest hardest.
Over 4,800 flights coming into, within or departing the United States were canceled as of Thursday afternoon, according to flight tracking service FlightAware.
Many of those cancellations came from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport in Texas, which closed early in the day after saying its runways were “not operational while being treated for snow and ice.” The airport had opened at least one runway by Thursday afternoon, but warned customers to “anticipate intermediate stoppages throughout the day to treat for snow and ice.”
So far, DFW Airport – an American Airlines hub – has canceled 657, or 68%, of its daily outgoing flights for Thursday. Chicago canceled 275 outgoing flights, or 25% of its daily total, while St. Louis Lambert International Airport canceled 156, or 74%, of its flights.
Airlines had canceled more than 1,000 flights in the U.S. scheduled for Wednesday, the flight-tracking service FlightAware.com showed, including more than half taken off the board in St. Louis. In an effort to stay ahead of the weather, Southwest Airlines announced Tuesday that it would suspend all of its flight operations Wednesday at St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Thursday at its Dallas Love Field hub.
“Around the country, we’re planning to operate a limited or reduced schedule from some cities in the path of the storm but will make adjustments to the schedule as needed,” Southwest spokesman Dan Landson said.
The storm will likely continue to impact flights across the country, as heavy snow is expected from the southern Rockies to northern New England, while forecasters said heavy ice buildup was likely from Texas to Pennsylvania.
More than 200,000 homes and businesses lost power across the U.S. on Thursday as power companies struggled to keep pace with freezing rain and snow that weighed down tree limbs and encrusted power lines,
Power outages blamed on icy or downed power lines were concentrated in Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas, but the path of the storm stretched further from the central U.S. into the South and Northeast on Thursday.
It is the second weekend in a row travelers were plagued with weather-related cancelations and delays after a nor’easter brought blizzard conditions to many parts of the East Coast.
A separate issue has plagued airports and, while not as dire a problem as predicted, forced a number of cancelations: the rollout of 5G networks across the country.
Some flights have been canceled since Verizon and AT&T turned on their new networks last month, but predictions of widespread cancellations turned out to be wrong. The Federal Aviation Administration has cleared 90% of the nation’s airline fleet to land during poor visibility at airports near 5G cell towers.
The CEOs of American Airlines and United Airlines have said they don’t expect any more disruptions from the rollout. However, more than half of the planes operated by regional airlines remain restricted during bad weather, said Faye Malarkey Black, president of a trade group for the smaller carriers, some of which operate flights for American Eagle, United Express and Delta Connection.
Dozens of flights were canceled because of 5G concerns after the services went live, but widespread cancellations were avoided.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.