Holiday Travel Still a Hassle

December once again marked by lousy weather

Hundreds of holiday travelers spent the night in the nation's second busiest airport and others faced delayed or canceled flights and highways choked by snow and ice as storms kept up their assault on northern states.

More snow fell Wednesday in the Midwest, where the National Weather Service said up to 4 inches was possible in Chicago. The Northwest faced more snow and sleet early Wednesday, with up to 20 inches in the Cascade range. And more snow and ice spread over the Northeast.

"We're seeing quite a bit of messiness out there," said weather service meteorologist Ed Shimon, who's been at work at the agency's Lincoln, Ill., office for six straight days, a period when the state has seen snow, ice and subzero temperatures. "It's something different every day — never a dull moment."

About 500 travelers had to spend the night at Chicago's O'Hare International, the nation's second busiest airport, after stormy weather canceled more than 500 flights Tuesday, said Chicago Aviation Department spokeswoman Karen Pride.

Only around a dozen flights had been called off at O'Hare early Wednesday, but the Federal Aviation Administration reported delays there and at Newark, N.J.

South of Portland, Ore., crews were shutting down a section of Interstate 205 at Oregon City because a buildup of ice and snowbanks, said Dave Thompson, public affairs manager of Oregon Department of Transportation. The department also was requiring tire chains on all highways in the Portland metro area.

The weather service posted winter storm warnings and advisories for large parts of the West, plus a swath of the Midwest and most of the Northeast.

Many roads across northern and central Indiana were ice-covered Wednesday morning, but State Police reopened a 30-mile stretch of Interstate 69 northeast of Indianapolis after closing it for about four hours due to ice.

The weather service warned of a significant flood threat this weekend in northern Indiana because of heavy rain expected later in the week and rapid snow melt.

Travelers relying on Amtrak train service also ran into weather-related delays caused by snow-packed track switches and cold. Around 600 passengers in Chicago waited for up to 22 hours before finally boarding their delayed trains — the Lake Shore Limited, which was bound for New York, and the Seattle- and Portland, Ore.-bound Empire Builder.

"It's spoiled our Christmas, sure," 73-year-old Don Seifert said after he and his wife abandoned hope of spending the holidays in New York with their son and his family.

However, crowds of stranded travelers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were drastically reduced Tuesday, some Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses in the Pacific Northwest were running and motorists in the region found easier going Tuesday.

Greyhound officials opened service on Interstate 5 from Portland to Seattle and from Seattle to Spokane but not east of there. Portland to Boise service remained suspended.

Amtrak said it was moving passengers from Eugene to Portland by bus, from Portland to Seattle by train, and from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia, by bus.

At least 13 people died in car crashes on rain and ice-slickened roads Tuesday — two in Missouri, two in Kansas, one in Oklahoma, four in Kentucky, one in Ohio and two in Indiana, and a state lawmaker was killed in West Virginia.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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