Weather

Over 40 South Florida flights canceled due to bad weather

Holiday travelers trying to get into or out of South Florida on Saturday were hit with flight cancellations and delays due to a white Christmas that snarled air service from Europe to the U.S. West Coast.

Flights were canceled between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and airports in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach County because of snowy weather in Georgia's capital. Many flights to European cities including Rome, Barcelona and Amsterdam were also canceled due to winter weather in Europe.

Miami International Airport experienced cancellations of flights to Tampa and San Francisco as well as three flights to Atlanta. Flights to Miami International were canceled from Orlando, Tampa and the Bahamas, as well as three from Atlanta.

"When Atlanta has any weather problems, it affects the entire southern United States, because it's a hub," said Wilfredo Fernandez, a spokesman for Miami International.

Five flights to Atlanta were cancelled from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, and seven from Palm Beach International Airport.

Twenty flights bound for Fort Lauderdale were canceled in Atlanta. Fort Lauderdale also experienced cancelations of flights from Marsh Harbour in the Bahamas due to mechanical problems.

Most of the canceled trips to and from Atlanta were Delta Air Lines flights. A spokesman for the airline, Kent Landers, said 500 weather-related flight cancellations were planned for Saturday nationwide. That included 300 of the 800 scheduled departures from the carrier's Atlanta hub.

Predictions of snow for the Northeast caused delays on some northbound flights. The National Weather Service said the storm could bring more than 5 inches of snow to the Washington, D.C., region Sunday.

The National Weather Service was also forecasting possible Sunday snow for the New York and Boston areas, with overnight temperatures in the 20s Fahrenheit and wind gusts up to 30 mph.

"We've had a handful of delays as well, because of weather conditions up north," said Miguel De Marcos, airport operations supervisor for Palm Beach International Airport. "We've had delays on flights to Toronto especially."

Brian Korty at the National Weather Service in Camp Springs, Md., said travelers in the northern mid-Atlantic region and northeastern New England states may want to rethink any travel plans they have for Sunday.

"They may see nearly impossible conditions to travel in," he said. "It would be a lot better for them to travel today than it would be tomorrow."

Landers said Delta would decide on possible additional Sunday cancellations as the time approaches. Landers said anyone with travel plans through Boston, New York, Baltimore, Washington and Newark, N.J., on Sunday or Monday can change their flight without a penalty as long as they travel by Dec. 29.

The Air Transport Association was expecting 44.3 million people on U.S. flights between Dec. 16 and Jan. 5 — up 3 percent over the same period a year ago but still below pre-recession travel volume. The average ticket price was $421, up by 5 percent.

The AAA predicted overall holiday travel to rise about 3 percent this year, with more than 92 million people planning to go more than 50 miles by Jan. 2. More than 90 percent said they would be driving.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Ariel Barkhurst can be reached at abarkhurst@tribune.com or 954-356-4451.

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