US airports reopen
The New York metropolitan area’s three major airports all reopened by 6 p.m. this evening, but headaches remained for tens of thousands of stranded passengers and for millions of people still digging out from the huge holiday-week blizzard.
The worst of the storm, which brought blinding snow and wreaked havoc from the Carolinas to Maine, had passed by early this evening. Still, over 4,155 flights cancelled, up to 32 inches of snow piling up, and wind gusts maxing out at 80 mph — and spoke to the continued challenges facing emergency personnel, government workers and others trying to return to normal.
“This storm was one of the most challenging storms we’ve had in a decade or two,” New York’s LaGuardia Airport General Manager Thomas Bosco said. “We had 25 inches several years ago, but the snow stayed in place. Today the snow piles are drifting.”
One runway at LaGuardia opened by 5:45 p.m., said Bosco, though only ten planes were expected to touch down tonight — and not until 7:30 p.m. Two departures were scheduled.
John F. Kennedy Airport, located further south in the same New York City borough of Queens, and Newark Liberty International, in northern New Jersey, opened to incoming and departing traffic at 6 p.m., said Port Authority spokeswoman Sara Joren.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked residents not to dial 911 unless calling about a life-saving emergency, as edgy travelers continue to face difficult weather conditions stemming from the fifth-largest storm in the city’s history.
Parts of Brooklyn had 24 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service — shy of the 32 inches reported in Rahway, New Jersey. High winds were also a problem, including gusts as strong as 80 mph in Wellfleet on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
The federal Transportation Security Administration was coordinating with airports and airlines to bolster staffing as necessary when flights resumed, according to spokeswoman Sterling Payne.
Travelers were seen sleeping on cots and atop luggage carousels overnight, while less fortunate people bedded down on airport floors. (CNN)