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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Travel woes continue as winter storm lingers

Bart Jansen, Rick Jervis and John Bacon, USA TODAY

–An unrelenting winter storm continued to spread its misery along much of the East Coast on Monday, providing a wake-up call of freezing rain, fog and mist to commuters and travelers.

The gloomy morning came hours after a swath of heavy snow and ice hit the eastern USA on Sunday, dumping snow on NFL fields, causing highway pileups and threatening to disrupt commuters Monday morning.

The National Weather Service said the greatest area of concern was from central Virginia to southeast New York, where some areas could see another quarter inch of ice before before temperatures rise late Monday morning and the storm system departs.

Federal offices in the Washington, D.C., area delayed opening by two hours Monday due to the weather, and schools across the region were opening late or closed for the day.

Flight delays due to rain and low ceilings may linger through much of Monday along I-95 in the Northeast because of low clouds.The storm canceled more than 3,200 flights Sunday and delayed thousands more, according to estimates from the website Flightaware.com. More than 1,300 of Monday’s flights were already canceled, the greatest share from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which was still reeling from the effects of the ice storm that brought north Texas to a standstill.

On Sunday, flight delays littered the nation. The worst were 1 hour and 43 minutes in Philadelphia, more than 1 hour in Newark, and nearly 1 hour at New York’s JFK and in Houston, with more than half-hour delays at Washington’s Dulles and New York’s LaGuardia airports, according to FlightAware.com. More than half-hour delays were reported at Washington’s Dulles and New York’s LaGuardia airports

The snow came from an Arctic blast of frigid air that froze highways in the middle of the country over the weekend and knocked power out to thousands of homes. Travel problems could linger into Monday afternoon, with freezing rain and icy conditions sticking around as wintry weather stretched from Missouri to Maine.

Forecasts had predicted 1 to 4 inches of snow across the Northeast, but the system dumped 6 to 12 inches in a swath that stretched from northern West Virginia to Philadelphia and east into New Jersey, said Brian Hurley, meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.

“We knew there was going to be some bands of precipitation,” Hurley said. “We didn’t quite expect it to have the intensity in snowfall that it did.”

The auction site eBay warned that severe weather across the country could delay shipments, especially in Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Ohio and Texas. The site urged customers to be patient with shippers. The lousy weather is something for which the major retailers and shippers do their best to accommodate, but they can only do so much.

“Sure, it drives them crazy,” said Dick Seesel, owner of Retailing in Focus, a retail consulting firm. “But you’re talking about companies that today operate coast-to-coast.” Macy’s, for example, which is now a national instead of regional retailer, he said, is much less vulnerable to bad weather in one part of the country when it has operations nationwide.

Contriburing: Associated Press

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