The Heat Is Online

Sleet, Cold Forces Mass Cancellations at Atlanta Airport

Flight cancellations expected to grow

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jan, 20, 2008


Rodney Mosley of Jonesboro stared intently at the listings of arriving and departing flights, hoping the on-time designation for his father-in-law's flight would not change.


Othello Brandy was to catch a Delta flight to New York's John F. Kennedy International, then another flight to return him to Liberia on Saturday evening.


"If this flight gets canceled, there'll be a whole lot of chain reaction," Mosley said. "His flight is the only one on time."


It was that kind of day at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

As the snow fell Saturday, airlines canceled hundreds of flights in and out of Atlanta, and arrival delays of up to five hours were reported.


Delta spokeswoman Betsy Talton said the airline had canceled about 260 flights in or out of Hartsfield by mid-afternoon. AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson said 75 of that carrier's flights had been scrapped.


Late Saturday night, Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman DeAllous Smith said though conditions had improved, travelers still should check with their airlines for possible delays or cancellations before coming to the airport Sunday.


All runways were open, and there had been no need to apply de-icing measures to them since 3 p.m. Saturday, Smith said. A maintenance crew was in place just in case they were needed, he added.


FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the airport had been forced to cancel flights so crews could de-ice departing planes.


"The maximum number of planes that can be de-iced per hour is 40," Bergen said. "In good weather, there are about 100 flights departing."


Bergen vowed there wouldn't be a repeat of Wednesday, when hundreds of passengers were stranded for hours on crowded jets after an emergency de-icing plan failed to work.


That gridlock prompted airport, airline and government officials to convene meetings Thursday and Friday to prevent a recurrence of the of the delays this weekend.


"The goal is not to overload the airport, like Wednesday," Bergen said. On the plus side, she said Saturday, "demand is down. [Because of cancellations] we don't have the number of flights we would on a normal Saturday."


There were mostly jeers -- and one cheer -- as the flight board showed more and more cancellations.


The cheers came when two dozen soldiers headed to Iraq passed through early Saturday afternoon. Patrons in the atrium stood up and applauded in support.


Lucia George, who was waiting for a return flight to West Palm Beach, Fla., shook her head and said, "It's so sad" as the soldiers marched past. She arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson eight hours early, hoping to get on a flight leaving earlier in the day, but had no luck.


"I'm just going to sit here. I'm not going to get bent out of shape," said the retired nurse, who killed time doing crossword puzzles.

Others lounged in the atrium reading, sleeping or just staring into space.


George Beaver came to the airport at 1 p.m., hoping to get on an earlier Delta flight to Las Vegas than the 9 p.m. one he was booked on.


He hoped to pass the time playing on his computer but couldn't find an outlet. So he just sat.


"I came for the long haul," Beaver said. "Every so often I get up and walk around."


With so many people stuck at the airport killing time, Hartsfield merchants saw many more customers -- and many of them were buying.


Diana Likey of Wilson's Leather, just off the atrium, said Saturdays are usually slow. But not this one.


"Today it's picked up a lot," Likey said. "We made our day before 3 o'clock. We're open until 9."


Polly Riddle of Kansas City, Mo., had become the "new best friend" of Elna and Gil Cobb of Vancouver, Wash. Riddle and the Cobbs spent several hours Saturday getting to know each other while waiting for flights.


Riddle, a church organist, said if she didn't get back for the 11 a.m. Chandler Baptist Church service in Liberty, Mo., "they'll have to use the piano."


"The Lord will bless them just the same," she said.


Atlanta ice causes flight disruptions


Delta cancels 70 flights; northeast Georgia sees up to 3 inches of snow


The Associated Press, Jan. 17, 2008


ATLANTA - The lingering effects of a wintry mix of snow, sleet and rain forced the cancellation of dozens of airline flights and closed some schools Thursday morning.


Sleet and snow started falling Wednesday in central Georgia as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico collided with a blast of cold air from the northeast. It moved north gradually, hitting metro Atlanta and northeast Georgia late Wednesday.


The northeast Georgia mountains received up to 3 inches of snow, with the rest of north Georgia getting rain and some sleet Wednesday into early Thursday morning.


Rain was expected to end during the day with temperatures continuing to climb to the upper 30s in the northeast Georgia mountain. The forecast called for highs in the upper 30s to lower 40s in the rest of north Georgia.


With icy surfaces at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta Air Lines canceled about 70 flights early Thursday, Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliott said. AirTran canceled 12 flights, said spokesman Tad Hutcheson, who said more cancellations were possible at airports further north as the storm moved up the East Coast.


By midnight Wednesday, the airport recorded 0.4 inches of snow, according to meteorologist Steve Nelson. He said the record for Jan. 16 was set in 1965, when the airport recorded 2.4 inches of snow. He said there was no snow, only rain, after midnight at the airport.


Schools in more than a dozen northeast Georgia counties were closed Thursday because of the weather.


Bitter cold in N.M.

To the west, a bitter cold front was keeping temperatures below zero in parts of New Mexico. Angel Fire was the coldest spot in the state at 26 below zero before daybreak Thursday, the National Weather Service said.


Its like walking into a freezer, said Pablo May, owner of Pablos Mechanical Heating & Plumbing Services in Angel Fire. He said he hadnt received any calls by early morning requesting help for frozen, busted water pipes, but expected many.


Check with me in an hour, and Ill probably have a weeks worth of work, May said.


Taos was also bitterly cold at 17 below zero, and snow flurries were lingering in the southern New Mexico. Temperatures were expected to rebound a bit this weekend, but a winter storm was expected Monday and Tuesday.


Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.