Thursday flight cancellations top 1,700 nationwide, disrupting holiday travel


More than 1,700 flights have been canceled across the United States, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware, as severe winter weather threatens holiday travel.

As of Thursday morning, 1,759 flights have been canceled across the country. More than 800 US flights have already been canceled for Friday.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport leads the way, followed by Denver International Airport and Chicago’s Midway International Airport. Cancellations at those airports could have a broader impact, as they are busy hubs where travelers often change planes to reach other destinations. Thursday is expected to be the busiest day for travel before Christmas.

Weather forecasters predict a “bombing hurricane,” and the National Weather Service says more than 100 million people are under winter alerts and wind chill alerts—nearly a third of the US population.

Denver temperatures are expected to drop to minus 10 degrees by dawn Thursday. Chicago could experience near-blizzard conditions with snow starting midday Thursday and lasting into Friday morning.

Maria Ikwaba, who was traveling from Chicago to Clear Lake, Iowa, with her granddaughter Thursday morning, told CNN she was trying to leave as soon as possible.

“Especially when you’re flying in from Chicago, you never know what might happen in Chicago because it’s the windy city,” said Ikwaba.

Traveler Kari Lucas, from San Diego, told CNN she was visiting her sister and brother-in-law, but cut the trip short because she didn’t want to get caught in the impending weather.

“I was worried because San Diego, we haven’t had these snowstorms,” ​​she said. “So I don’t like being trapped in the airport for long periods of time.”

“It seems like the best option to make right now,” she said.

Many airlines have issued weather waivers, and travelers should check that their flights are still scheduled to take off before departing for the airport. Experts warn pilots to get to the airport early in order to beat the crowds.

— CNN’s Dave Henin contributed to this report.