Airline passengers wait out a major snowstorm as flights were canceled or severely delayed at Albany International Airport in Colonie, N.Y., Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. A major winter storm that blanketed much of the Midwest with snow earlier in the weekend is barreling toward New England, where it is expected to wreak transportation havoc from slick and clogged roads to hundreds of canceled airline flights. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Major winter storm wreaks havoc on U.S. travel

Nearly 5,000 flights were cancelled Sunday around the country

A major winter storm that has brought some of the coldest temperatures of the season covered a large swath of the U.S. in snow as it wreaked havoc on air travel and caused slick road conditions throughout New England Sunday.

Nearly 5,000 flights were cancelled Sunday around the country, with Boston Logan Airport being one of the hardest hit, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking company. The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings or advisories for part or all of at least 15 states stretching from southeast Missouri to the northern tip of Maine.

The storm was caused by the clash of an Arctic high pressure system with a low pressure system coming through the Ohio Valley, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Hofmann.

“It happens that this one is going through a relatively high population area,” Hofmann said.

Parts of northern New England could see up to 2 feet of snow, which will be followed Sunday night by bitter cold and wind chills as low as 35 below zero in parts of Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. Parts of upstate New York got up to 11 inches (28 centimetres) of snow overnight, according to the Weather Channel.

Some New Englanders welcomed the fresh snow. Nicholas Nicolet and his 6-year-old son Rocco got outside early Sunday morning to enjoy the snow in Montpelier, Vermont, as they cross-country skied on the city’s sidewalks during the storm.

“We think it’s great,” said Nicolet, who said he and his son were out to door by 7 a.m.

Earlier, the system dumped up to 10 inches of snow on parts of the Midwest Saturday.

A plane carrying 129 people skidded from a slick runway at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport Saturday. No injuries were reported on the United Airlines flight as it arrived from Phoenix, Chicago Fire officials said.

In Kansas, a snowplow driver was killed when the plow drove onto the shoulder of a road and rolled over, throwing him under the vehicle. It wasn’t clear why the driver had moved to the shoulder from the roadway.

A 15-vehicle crash on slippery roads blocked a section of Interstate 55 in southeastern Missouri near Ste. Genevieve Saturday afternoon and drivers were urged to find an alternative route. In Detroit, many motorists were moving well below posted speed limits along freeways due to slushy conditions. Amtrak cancelled some trains Saturday from Chicago to Washington and New York and between New York and Boston and Pennsylvania on Sunday.

As the storm system moves east, the frigid Arctic air behind it was expected to envelop many parts of the Midwest where it had just snowed.

“The air that it is bringing down with it is very, very cold,” Hofmann said.

President Donald Trump remarked at how large the storm system was in a tweet early Sunday, urging Americans affected by the winter storm to “be careful.”

“Amazing how big this system is. Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!” Trump tweeted.

He has conflated short-term weather patterns with longer-term climate change before, even though the White House’s own National Climate Assessment rejects the idea that a particular plunge in temperatures can cast uncertainty on whether Earth is warming.

That report, issued in November, said climate change “is transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us.”


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The Associated Press

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