Travelers eye storm as it moves eastward

Crews spray deicing solution onto an American Airlines 737 before departure at Dallas-Fort Worth International airport, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. Winter weather has caused travel disruptions throughout the area including the cancellation and delays of hundreds of flights. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

A winter storm system blamed for at least 10 fatal accidents in the West and Texas threatens to dampen the Thanksgiving holiday for millions of Americans traveling this week.

Nearly 300 American Airlines and American Eagle flights were canceled in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Monday because of the weather, spokeswoman Laura Masvidal said, mirroring disruptions at the air hub a day earlier. Some of the country's busiest airports — New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and Charlotte, N.C. — could see big delays.

In Tyler, a single 10:20 a.m. incoming flight from Dallas was canceled on Monday, Tyler Regional Pounds Airport Manager Davis Dickson said. Dickson said all flights to Houston were arriving and departing on time and an outgoing flight to Dallas Monday morning made it without delays.

He said any Tyler travelers concerned with their travel plans can visit the airport's mobile website at www.fly

tyr.com to check flight statuses and delays in real time. People without a smart phone can call the airport to check on their flights, he said.

"The weather like it is right now — it can change quickly — but the airport in Tyler is operating fine," Dickson said. "We are not having any problems at all."

Nationwide, icy roads led to hundreds of accidents and at least 10 deaths, half of them in Texas.

On Monday, the storm brought a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain to parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, southern Kansas and Texas. But as the storm continues east, there are fears of heavy rain along the busy Interstate 95 corridor and sleet, freezing rain and snow away from the coast and at higher elevations.

Tom Kines, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, said it will be "primarily a rain event" for the East Coast, with up to three inches of rain dousing travelers.

"The further inland you get — especially as you get into that higher terrain — you are going to deal with frozen precipitation," Kines said. Snow could fall in western Pennsylvania and the interior of New England. Up to 9 inches could blanket northern parts of West Virginia, where the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning from Tuesday morning through Wednesday afternoon.

John Adams, KYTX CBS19 chief meteorologist, said the station's rain gauge on Old Jacksonville Highway has received 3.42 inches of rain since the weather system rolled into East Texas on Saturday.

Adams said a mixture of sleet and rain was expected Monday night and this morning. The wintery mix is expected to clear up by this afternoon and start drying out by Wednesday, he said.

Wednesday will be the busiest Thanksgiving travel day, according to AAA Texas. The forecast is based on a formula that factors in consumer confidence, stock market performance, unemployment and a survey of 418 people that has a 6 percent margin of error.

Ninety percent of travelers this week will drive, according to AAA, and an estimated 38.9 million people — 1.6 percent fewer than last year — are expected to drive 50 miles or more from their home.

AAA Texas expects 3.1 million Texans to drive more than 50 miles to celebrate the holiday, which is .3 percent down from last year, but the second highest-ranking year since 2008.

Adams said the roads will be wet but not icy for drivers Wednesday, and the weather will be mostly sunny with lows in the 20s and highs in the low 50s.

Thanksgiving Day and Friday will continue that cold trend, Adams said. He said homeowners in older houses should drip faucets overnight to keep pipes from freezing if they are not properly insulated.

Texas travelers plan to log an average of 591 miles round-trip during the holiday period and expect to spend an average of $627 on fuel, accommodations, food and beverages, shopping and entertainment, AAA Texas reports.

Nationally, gas is about 15 cents cheaper than last year, AAA said Monday, with a gallon of regular unleaded selling for $3.28.

Air travel will be busier and more expensive than usual this Thanksgiving.

This holiday likely will see the most air travelers since 2007, according to Airlines for America, the industry's trade and lobbying group. The busiest day will be Sunday, with an estimated 2.56 million passengers. Wednesday is expected to be the second-busiest with 2.42 million passengers.

In the Lone Star state, 210,000 Texans expect to travel by air, a number that is down 2.4 percent from 2012, AAA Texas reports.

The average domestic airfare is up 9.5 percent from last Thanksgiving to $313, according to the Airlines Reporting Corp., which processes tickets sold online and by traditional travel agencies.

Meanwhile, Amtrak prices in September — the most recent month for which data is available — were up more than 4 percent from last year.

Adding to the usual stress of holiday travel, though, is the weather that's ahead for much of the country. Some of the worst weather was expected in the Ouachita Mountains of western Arkansas but most of the region saw only sporadic ice and very cold temperatures.

For those traveling across Texas by highway, the Texas Department of Public Safety suggests wearing seatbelts, limiting distractions, taking extra time and not rushing, getting plenty of sleep and properly maintaining vehicles, as ways to avoid potentially serious accidents.

 

 
 

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