Airlines cancel 2,000 US flights Saturday due to winter storm

By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON, Dec. 24 (Reuters) –

Airlines canceled nearly 2,000 US flights on Saturday morning following a massive winter storm that hampered airport operations in the US and frustrated thousands of vacationers.

The total number of flight delays within, to or from the United States stood at around 4,000 as of Saturday morning, according to flight tracking website FlightAware, which showed the total number of U.S. flight cancellations stood at around 2,000. Flight cancellations Saturday morning included more than 450 from Southwest Airlines and nearly 400 from Delta Air Lines Inc.

The flight disruptions came as an arctic blast swept through much of the United States on Saturday, causing power outages and car wrecks. Falling temperatures were expected to bring the coldest Christmas Eve on record to several cities from Pennsylvania to Georgia.

Temperatures are expected to peak Saturday at just 7 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 13 Celsius) in Pittsburgh, surpassing its previous coldest Christmas Eve record of 13 F, set in 1983, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

Winter storms have increased in frequency and intensity over the past 70 years, according to the US Global Change Research Program. This is partly due to

climate change

according to the Environmental Defense Fund, because the planet evaporates more water into the atmosphere as it warms, leading to more overall precipitation.

On Friday, flight cancellations in the United States stood at 5,936, according to FlightAware.

“Increasing air traffic volumes and winter weather conditions affecting the northern half of the United States could further cause delays to holiday travel,” the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Saturday, even though travel conditions should improve.

An NBC News affiliate reported that bad weather canceled more than 130 flights Saturday morning at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Some passengers told the media that they were not notified before going to the airport.

An ABC News affiliate showed long lines at Denver International Airport on Saturday morning, where more than 150 flights were delayed and nearly 130 were canceled.

The Amtrak passenger railroad has also canceled dozens of trains through Christmas, disrupting holiday travel for thousands of people. (Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Josie Kao)

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