Air travel havoc in US as extreme chill hits the northeast | News | DW | 07.01.2018
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Winter weather

Air travel havoc in US as extreme chill hits the northeast

Hundreds of flights have been canceled and thousands delayed at airports in the US. A winter storm that became a so-called "bomb cyclone" is behind the unusually harsh conditions.

Snow plows move snow as a JetBlue airplane waits outside terminal five at John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 4, 2018, in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Rebecca Butala How/Getty Images)

It's not been a typical week at JFK International Airport

Bitterly cold temperatures afflicting much of the eastern third of the United States and Canada caused cancellations and delays at several airports on Saturday, days after a severe winter storm led to heavy snowfall throughout the region.

Nearly 500 flights were canceled and more than 3,000 flights were delayed, according to flight tracking website flightaware.com.

New York's busy John F. Kennedy International Airport was particularly affected, with the airport recording an all-time low of minus 13 Celsius (8 Fahrenheit), meteorologist Bob Oravec of the Weather Prediction Center told Reuters news agency.

Read more: Powerful 'bomb cyclone' winter storm hits US East Coast

Many passengers were unable to leave airplanes upon arrival, as airport workers struggled to work through a backlog following Thursday's brutal storm. Whiteout conditions had forced the airport to close from Thursday to Friday.

Delays worsened for some passengers after a China Southern plane clipped the tail of a Kuwait Airlines jet during taxiing. No one was injured, but Port Authority Police said both planes were damaged.

Superjumbo diversion

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the airport's operator, had said it would limit flights into JFK airport "until there are adequate gates available to handle the backlog of flights due to recovery of flight schedules in the wake of Thursday's storm."

On Friday, a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 had to divert its landing from JFK to a small international airport in New Windsor, some 75 miles north of New York City.

The massive aircraft, which had originated in Frankfurt, Germany, was too large for the gates at Stewart International Airport, forcing passengers to walk down a portable stairwell before being driven to the airport terminal.

Minus 70 Celsius wind chill

Temperatures reached record lows in many towns and cities in the northeast on Saturday, with authorities recording multiple weather-related health conditions, including heart attacks and frostbite.

Mount Washington in New Hampshire was among the coldest places in the world as it registered a wind chill of almost minus 70 Celsius.

The punishing temperature drop follows a winter storm on Thursday that led to heavy snowfall and high winds throughout the eastern half of the country. The storm — whose pressure dropped enough in a short enough period to qualify it as a "bomb cyclone" — was blamed for 19 deaths and disrupted travel from Texas to Wisconsin.

Authorities expect snow and ice to follow the chill on Sunday evening, followed by above freezing temperatures starting Monday.

Read more: What is a 'bomb cyclone?'

amp/msh (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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