The extreme weather from Virginia to Florida brought on by Winter Storm Diego resulted in over 1,400 canceled flights this past weekend, with airlines such as Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and American Airlines all forced to ground their planes.
Winter Storm Diego hit the Southeast of the U.S. on Saturday night, bringing with it icy conditions that affected large swaths of the south, from California to Virginia, with cities such as Lubbock, Texas, experiencing 10 inches of snow. Nearly half a million people were left without electricity as a result of the storm, and at the time of this writing, around 100,000 people are still experiencing blackouts.
In terms of flights, American Airlines was the worst affected, as its hub is located in Charlotte, North Carolina. The airline decided to cancel over 1,100 of its Sunday flights, as well as 225 of its flights on Saturday, and 320 on Monday. While other airlines were also forced to cancel flights coming into or going out of Charlotte, none came anywhere close to the numbers canceled by American. In total, over 80% of the airport’s Sunday flights were canceled.
Ordinarily, passengers would be required to pay a fee to change the date of their flights, but since this is a situation beyond the control of both the customers and the airlines, American Airlines has waived the standard charge. However, this waiver only applies to those who are able to make the same journey by December 15th.
While the worst of the storm has now passed, there may still be some snowfall around the Appalachian Mountains, which is expected to receive more than a foot of snow overall. But while this storm may be as good as over, there may be more to follow. Meteorologist Alex Lamers of the National Weather Service has warned that there are increasing signs that El Niño has formed and that we should expect more storms as a result.