CHICAGO (CBS) — The weather in the Chicago area and across the nation turned what is always a tough travel day into a maddening one.
As of 10 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration was reporting general departure delays of 15 to 29 minutes, with some planes being held at the gates and some on the taxiways. No major delays were reported at Midway International Airport.
But through the day into the evening, the Chicago Department of Aviation reported that 977 flights had been delayed and 77 canceled at O’Hare International Airport, while 128 flights had been delayed and 15 canceled at Midway International Airport.
Those travelers were looking for a better option on Monday morning. Snow in the Northeast caused issues at East Coast airports with regular back-and-forth flights to Chicago.
— Mike Puccinelli (@MPuccinelliCBS2) December 2, 2019
As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reported, O’Hare was crammed with people all day on Sunday. And throw a few storms into the mix, and you have the makings of a post-Thanksgiving travel Homeric Odyssey.
Tamika Oliver was trying to find her daughter in the massive crowd at O’Hare late Sunday. And that might not be the hardest part of her evening.
“Normally, it takes about 45 minutes,” Oliver said. “It took me about an hour and a half.”
She rated her frustration level at “10-plus.”
A quick look at the traffic approaching the terminals at O’Hare showed that this wasn’t any given Sunday. Nearly 4.5 million people took to the air for Thanksgiving – up more than 4.5 percent from last year. And it showed.
“I think spending time with family was worth it, but it’s going to take a while to get back,” said Ohio State student Aditya Chinthatunta.
Snow and ice were causing big problems Sunday at multiple East Coast airports that regularly have back-and-forth flights to Chicago – including New York LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International, Newark International, Teterboro, and Philadelphia International. New York saw its first major snowstorm of the season on Sunday.
Nearly 10 percent of flights at Newark were canceled Sunday. In the evening, some passengers told Lisa Rozner of WCBS-TV, CBS 2 New York that they had been waiting to fly home to Toronto since noon local time.
Bobby Jones of Manasquan, New Jersey was trying to get home from Orlando, Florida.
“We weren’t able to land in Newark because of the ice and rain. They sent us to JFK. We sat there for four hours,” Jones told CBS 2 in New York. “I think we were taxiing for three hours and we were starving.”
The situation on the ground in the Tri-State Area was treacherous too. New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo placed National Guard personnel on standby and activated the state’s emergency operations center to enhanced monitoring mode in response to the winter storm. Bus service from New York City to upstate New York was also suspended, and speed limits on Accidents were commonplace on the slippery roads amid freezing rain, CBS 2 in New York reported.
The freezing rain was expected to turn to snow there on Monday.
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, storms caused wipeouts while dumping more than a foot of snow in some areas.
“It was very beautiful. It was like snowing big fluffy snow,” sand Courtney Matula.
Matula was able to admire the snow while traveling home from Minnesota because she wasn’t driving or flying in it. She took Amtrak instead.
“It was my first time on Amtrak, so I had a great time,” Matula said.
And it seemed that many others were choosing to ride the rails.
“The day the work week – that is, the Sunday after Thanksgiving – is our biggest single day of the year!” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.
But Matula and her friend, Kendall Burke, didn’t mind the crowds on the train.
“We can have two free checked bags each, plus two carry-on items,” Burke said.
“Plus, we don’t have to worry about our liquids, which I was very excited about, because mom sent us home with some stuff,” Matula said.
They were home from the holidays, but seemingly still in a holiday frame of mind.
“I would say when we hear ‘choo-choo!’ we go ‘woo-woo!’” the women said.
Not too many people were going “woo-woo!” at O’Hare though. But of course, it could have been worse, given that Chicago only ended up getting rain.
The precipitation was moving out as of 10:30 p.m. but some lake effect snow was starting to set up in bands – threatening minor accumulations overnight,
CBS 2 Meteorologist Robb Ellis reported.
Parts of Northwest Indiana could see up to 0.5 inch to 1 inch of accumulation. Meanwhile, freezing temperatures could means some slick spots on the roads Monday morning.