Tampa airport braces for weather-related flight cancellations ahead of Christmas

As a powerful winter storm sweeps across the United States – bringing perhaps the coldest Christmas to Tampa Bay in nearly 30 years – Tampa International Airport is starting to see flight cancellations and delays that could derail vacation travel for some Tampa Bay residents and their families.

Spokeswoman Emily Nipps said Tampa Airport expects more.

“We expect the storm and flight delays and cancellations elsewhere in the United States to cause issues here as well, although we cannot predict the severity of the situation over the next few days,” Nipps said in a statement. an email.

About 2% of flights from the airport on Thursday were canceled and 17% delayed, Nipps said. According to data from Flight Aware, of 21 flights canceled at Tampa airport, about 80% were going to or coming from Denver or Chicago — cities currently experiencing the effects of winter weather sweeping the Midwest.

A cold front associated with the storm will bring temperatures to the Tampa Bay area that will dip into the 30s over the Christmas weekend, forecasters said. A National Weather Service forecast shows a chance of rain Thursday along Florida’s west coast before temperatures begin to drop before the weekend.

Low temperatures in Hillsborough and Pasco counties on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day could drop below freezing, and highs are expected to be in the mid to high 40s.

Forecasters expect Pinellas County to remain slightly warmer with low temperatures over the weekend in the upper 30s and highs near 50.

Eight cold weather shelters open in Pinellas County Friday and Saturday evenings. With cooler weather expected to continue through Monday, shelters are also planning to stay open on Sunday evening.

Hillsborough County will release its cold weather shelter locations Friday morning, spokesman Chris Wilkerson said. Wilkerson said county officials expect temperatures to reach the threshold “looking like” 40 degrees or lower to activate cold weather shelters on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Pasco County Cold Weather Shelters are available Friday, Saturday and Sunday for those who call 727-842-8605 and choose ext. 2 for shelters against the cold.

The National Weather Service has issued a frost watch for Saturday morning for Hillsborough and Pasco counties. The watch does not currently include Pinellas County.

The wintry weather is bringing heavy snowfall and winds to the Midwest on Thursday, impacting travel for thousands of people across the country, particularly in Denver and Chicago. According to Flight Aware, 47% of flights to Chicago Midway on Thursday had been canceled by 2 p.m.

Follow the Tampa Bay headlines

Subscribe to our free DayStarter newsletter

We’ll bring you the latest news and information you need every morning of the week.

You are all registered!

Want more of our free weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s start.

Explore all your options

About 500 flights were canceled Thursday at Denver and Chicago O’Hare airports, and with likely more weather-related cancellations to come, thousands of people are still trying to find ways to get home for the holidays.

“It’s not like a snowy day when you were a kid,” President Joe Biden warned Thursday in the Oval Office after a briefing from federal officials. “It’s something serious.”

Frigid air will cross the central United States eastward, with wind chill advisories affecting about 135 million people over the next few days, Weather Services meteorologist Ashton Robinson Cook said Thursday.

Forecasters expect a bomb cyclone — when atmospheric pressure drops very quickly during a strong storm — develop near the Great Lakes, which will increase winds and create blizzard conditions, Cook said.

Already, roads in rural western South Dakota were blocked, leaving people stranded with dwindling food supplies and heating sources.

“It’s just a little scary for us here, we just feel isolated and left behind,” said Shawn Bordeaux, a Democratic state lawmaker, who said he lacked propane heating at his home near of Mission on the Rosebud Indian Reservation because snowdrifts prevented a delivery driver from resupplying it.

In Texas, temperatures are expected to drop rapidly on Thursday, but state leaders have promised there will be no repeat of the February 2021 storm that overwhelmed the state power grid and was blamed for hundreds of deaths.

The cold weather extended to El Paso and across the border to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where the migrants were camping outdoors or filling shelters pending a decision on whether the United States will lift restrictions which have prevented many people from applying for asylum.

Elsewhere in the United States, authorities have expressed concern about the potential for power outages and warned people to take precautions to protect the elderly and homeless and livestock – and, if possible, to postpone travel.

Michigan State Police prepared to deploy additional troops to assist motorists. And along Interstate 90 in northern Indiana, crews prepared to clear up to a foot of snow as weather forecasters warned of blizzard conditions starting Thursday night. About 150 National Guard members were also deployed to assist snowbound Indiana travelers.

More than 1,700 flights had been canceled as of Thursday morning inside, inside or outside the United States, according to tracking site FlightAware, with Chicago O’Hare and Denver airports seeing the most . Freezing rain forced Delta to suspend departures from its Seattle hub.

Amtrak, meanwhile, has canceled service on more than 20 routes, mostly in the Midwest. Service between Chicago and Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit, and St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, has been suspended until Christmas Day.

Some Detroit-area shelters were already at capacity. The Detroit News reported that all 140 beds at COTS, a family-only shelter in Detroit, were full. The facility, however, hopes to make room for others, spokeswoman Aisha Morrell-Ferguson told the newspaper on Wednesday.

“We’re not sending anyone back to this cold,” Morrell-Ferguson said. “It doesn’t matter if we have to remove air mattresses. We are doing everything we can, looking for alternative spaces to meet any needs that may arise. »

In Buffalo, New York, famous for its snowfall, forecasters have predicted a ‘once in a generation storm’ due to heavy lake-effect snowfall, wind gusts of up to 105 mph , whiteouts and the risk of major power outages. The NHL postponed the Buffalo Sabers home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning and rescheduled to March 4.

Information from the Associated Press complements this report.

Comments are closed.