Fearing the potentially historic size and strength of a forecast winter storm across the Northeast US, airlines have preemptively scrapped around 3,000 flights, reports say. Some airlines have reportedly set up flexible rebooking waivers for customers.
Authorities have also advised people living in the Northeast to stay home and off the roads Friday and Saturday ahead of the major blizzard that is forecast to dump up to two feet of snow.
Airlines that have announced timetable changes ahead of the arrival of the storm include JetBlue Airways Corp., Delta Air Lines Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc. Southwest said Thursday evening that it was postponing the "majority" of its flights at a number of airports because of the blizzard warning.
"We're keeping a close eye on the impending winter storm expected to impact the Northeast and New England regions tomorrow and are planning our operations accordingly," said JetBlue spokesman Mateo Lleras Thursday afternoon, according to USA Today. "To date, we've proactively canceled 640 flights in this area and will continue to monitor and adjust our operations as needed."
Forecasts suggest that Boston may receive 61 inches of snow, as the seashore is likely to get hit by tall waves and storm drafts as high as 80 kilometers per hour. According to forecasts by the National Weather Service, New York City may receive 10 inches of snow and blizzards are likely to surround Suffolk County on Long Island.
According to FlightAware, the airports with noteworthy preventative flights postponement totals through Saturday include New York JFK (414), Newark (791), New York LaGuardia (465), Boston (316), Chicago O'Hare (212), Washington Dulles (93), Detroit (92), Philadelphia (147), Washington Reagan National (133) and Hartford (87).
Forecasts indicate that the consequences of this blizzard could equal a storm in 1978 that covered Boston with 69 centimeters of snow and crippled New England for days. Two fierce blizzards are likely to meet across the Northeast Friday and generate travel nightmares for a wider swath of the US.
Preemptive cancellations let airlines relocate flights in advance of bad weather conditions such as a snowstorm or hurricane. That makes people and aircrafts safe and allows airlines to reinstate service more rapidly after weather conditions get better.