Rain, snow hit East Coast dur­ing Thanks­giv­ing rush

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY MICHELLE R. SMITH JA­SON KEYSER

PROV­I­DENCE, R.I. | A wet and blus­tery storm along the East Coast made driv­ing haz­ardous and tan­gled up hun­dreds of flights Wed­nes­day but didn’t cause the all-out grid­lock many Thanks­giv­ing trav­el­ers had feared.

Many trav­el­ers mar­veled at how or­derly and anx­i­ety-free the air­ports were dur­ing what is typ­i­cally one of the busiest days of the year.

One big ques­tion lin­gered in New York: Will high winds ground Snoopy and the other gi­ant car­toon-char­ac­ter bal­loons at the Macy’s pa­rade on Thanks­giv­ing Day?

The storm for the most part un­leashed wind-driven rain along the North­east’s heav­ily pop­u­lated In­ter­state 95 cor­ri­dor from Rich­mond to the tip of Maine.

Emerg­ing from the weather gant­let was Katie Fleisher, who made it by car from Portsmouth, N.H., through rain and fog to Bos­ton’s Lo­gan In­ter­na­tional Air­port with lit­tle trou­ble and dis­cov­ered to her amaze­ment that the pan­icked, cranky crowds she ex­pected were nonex­is­tent.

“We thought it would be busier here. But there’ve been no lines, and it has been re­ally quiet all morn­ing,” said Ms. Fleisher, whose plan was to fly to Pitts­burgh.

“Our flight is still on time, but we are check­ing the app ev­ery cou­ple min­utes,” she said. “We are ner­vous, as we are trav­el­ing with two 1-year-olds, and any ex­tra time on a plane would be hor­ri­ble.”

The storm was ex­pected to drop around 6 inches of snow in parts of West Vir­ginia and western Penn­syl­va­nia and up to a foot in a pocket of up­state New York.

Dam­ag­ing winds gust­ing up to 60 mph were ex­pected to rip through Bos­ton and other coastal ar­eas.

Those winds could pre­vent the gi­ant bal­loons from tak­ing flight this year at the Macy’s pa­rade. Safety rules that spec­ify wind speeds were en­acted in New York af­ter a spec­ta­tor was killed in 1997 in an ac­ci­dent in­volv­ing an out-of-con­trol bal­loon.

Flight cancellations piled up at East Coast hubs. By mid­day Wed­nes­day, about 250 flights had been can­celed, ac­cord­ing to the track­ing web­site FlightAware.com.

But that was a tiny frac­tion of the nearly 32,000 flights that were sched­uled to, from or within the U.S. on Wed­nes­day, the site said. And the weather in many places was im­prov­ing as the day wore on.

Most of the cancellations in­volved Ne­wark, N.J., Philadel­phia and New York’s LaGuardia Air­port.

The long­est de­lays af­fected Philadel­phia-bound flights, which were be­ing held at their points of ori­gin for an av­er­age of about two hours be­cause of the weather, ac­cord­ing to the web­site.

The Philadel­phia area was un­der a flood watch, with 2 to 3 inches of rain fore­cast be­fore fall­ing tem­per­a­tures turned pre­cip­i­ta­tion to snow.

Roads there were snarled. A deadly mul­ti­ve­hi­cle crash that au­thor­i­ties said hap­pened when a car hit stand­ing wa­ter and spun out of con­trol closed the west­bound lanes of the Schuylkill Ex­press­way for a while, and the east­bound lanes were shut down for sev­eral hours be­cause of flood­ing.

The storm, which de­vel­oped out West over the weekend, has been blamed for at least 11 deaths, five of them in Texas. But as it moved east, it wasn’t as bad as feared.

“This is a fairly typ­i­cal storm for this time of year,” said Chris Vaccaro of the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice. “Ob­vi­ously, it’s ill-timed be­cause you have a lot of rain and snow­fall in ar­eas where peo­ple are try­ing to move around town or fly or drive out of town. ... But for­tu­nately, we’re at this point go­ing to start see­ing a steady im­prove­ment in con­di­tions across the mid-At­lantic and North­east.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pas­sen­gers wait to board a Bolt­Bus dur­ing a light rain Wed­nes­day in New York. Flight cancellations piled up at East Coast hubs filled with Thanks­giv­ing trav­el­ers and driv­ing was haz­ardous, but the weather im­proved in many places as the day wore on.

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