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A “bomb cyclone” that threatened to make holiday travel a nightmare earlier this week began fulfilling that threat on Thursday, Dec. 22, as more than 2,400 flights were canceled across the U.S.
CNN reported late Thursday that conditions from the system dubbed Winter Storm Elliott disrupted air travel, train, and bus services. In addition to the already-cancelled flights, 2,200 more had been preemptively canceled for Friday and over 100 for Saturday.
Flight delays were even worse — 9,300 had been reported by 9 p.m. ET Thursday. Denver and Chicago took the hardest hits. From CNN:
At one point Thursday at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, delays averaging 159 minutes – almost three hours – were being caused by snow and ice, according to a notice from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Temperatures at the O’Hare dropped to 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 Celsius) around 6:45 p.m. local time. Light snow and fog/mist were reported by the National Weather Service.
A tweet from the National Weather Service in Cheyenne, Wyoming, illustrated the massive weather system’s unusual characteristics.
The cold front has arrived in Cheyenne and it is already a record-breaker! From 1:05 to 1:35, the temperature plunged from 43 to 3 degrees, a FOURTY-DEGREE drop in just 30 minutes! This shatters our previous 1-hour temp drop record of 37 degrees, and we are still dropping! #wywx pic.twitter.com/twQcNgy9qx
— NWS Cheyenne (@NWSCheyenne) December 21, 2022
Cheyenne recorded, according to the tweet, “a FOURTY-DEGREE drop in just 30 minutes!”
CNN also listed major cities where bus service was disrupted, including Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, and Detroit. Amtrak reportedly began canceling and delaying various Midwest and Northeast routes.
Major northeastern airports like Newark, JFK, and LaGuardia were preparing for similar delays Thursday night in anticipation of the storm, with LaGuardia tweeting, “Flight activity at #LaGuardiaAirport may be disrupted by heavy rain and strong winds later today and Friday. Travelers, please confirm flight status with your airline before heading to the airport.”
There will likely be many more cancellations before the storm departs on Christmas Day.