Air travelers enjoyed a mostly uneventful lead-up to the Thanksgiving holiday this year. Now, can that luck hold for the return trip home?
There were few problems on Friday, typically one of the lighter travel days of the year. Nationwide, fewer than two dozen flights had been canceled and only about 360 delayed as of 11:40 a.m. EST, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. Both were small numbers when compared to a daily schedule of more than 20,000 flights across the USA.
But the weekend forecast looked a little tricky, especially for Sunday – the busiest day of the Thanksgiving travel period.
A winter storm moving into the Midwest could complicate travel across the region this weekend, bringing snow to airports in Milwaukee; Kansas City, Missouri; Des Moines, Iowa; and Omaha, Nebraska. Delays were possible from those cities and at smaller airports in the region if heavy snow persisted over a prolonged window.
But the big question for weekend travelers is Chicago, where the city’s busy hubs at O’Hare and Midway could see poor weather. Rain and cloudy weather were forecast for Saturday, but the big concern was for Sunday into Monday. Current forecasts called for mostly rain in Chicago, but the city sits close to the expected rain/snow line for the latest storm. Some backups already appeared likely because of the poor weather. But, if the city’s airports get appreciable snowfall, a bigger slowdown is possible.
Elsewhere in the Midwest, passengers flying through Minneapolis/St. Paul should keep an eye on conditions there. Low clouds and poor visibility were forecast for Saturday. On Sunday, cold weather could lead to de-icing delays as holiday flight schedules ramped up there.
To the west, San Francisco could see sporadic issues on Friday because of rainy weather, but the day’s light holiday schedule should mitigate the impact of problems there. Weekend conditions were favorable for on-time flights.
In the Northeast, cloudy and rainy weather could create off-and-on backups Sunday at the three busy airports serving New York City and at Philadelphia. The worst weather for flight delays was likely after noon.