Airlines and airports were scrambling to get people home Monday after a swath of bad weather forced thousands of flight cancellations and delays over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
More than 7,000 flights within, into or out of the U.S. were delayed or canceled Sunday, one of the year’s busiest travel days, according to the tracking website flightaware.com. Over 500 more flights were already delayed or canceled early Monday.
Travel is back in a big way after the crushing impact of COVID-19. AAA estimated that 54.6 million people were traveling 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving weekend. That’s a 1.5% increase over 2021 – and 98% of pre-pandemic levels.
This year was projected to be the third busiest for Thanksgiving travel since AAA started tracking in 2000. But heavy rains and thunderstorms in the south and snow in the Pacific Northwest helped fuel some post-Thanksgiving travel issues. And the hazardous weather was far from over.
25 million at risk for severe weather
A storm rolling out of the Rockies was forecast to bring severe weather ranging from high winds to tornadoes from the Gulf Coast to the Mississippi Valley, AccuWeather meteorologists warn. About 25 million people in the south-central United States will be at risk for severe thunderstorms on Tuesday alone.
“Conditions should allow for storms to easily begin rotating, leading to a heightened tornado threat,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Andrew Johnson-Levine said. “A couple of strong, long tracked tornadoes also cannot be ruled out.”
SEVERE WEATHER LOOMS:Severe weather ‘outbreak’ to impact South, threatening 25M from Texas to Illinois
New Orleans, Atlanta, Nashville, Birmingham could be impacted
Major metro areas that could experience thunderstorms capable of producing flash flooding and damaging wind gusts on Wednesday include New Orleans, Atlanta, Nashville and Birmingham, Alabama, AccuWeather said.
Airline passengers should expect additional delays north of the severe thunderstorm zone in the Midwest and the Northeast from Tuesday to Wednesday, the service said.