South Florida was mostly its usual sunny self Sunday, give or take a hassle or two at the airports. But as darkness began falling, so did the temperature, as well as the outlook for that lunar-eclipse watch party you were planning.
By 11:45 p.m., when the moon was scheduled to disappear for an hour, the National Weather Service says temperatures should be well on their way down into the mid-40s. the coldest of the young year in South Florida.
But stop that whining immediately. In Boston, temperatures are expected to hit 20 below zero, and 35 below in some doomed parts of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
All this is the work of a bitter cold front -- Winter Storm Harper, if you want to hate him by name -- that started in California earlier in the week and was pushing into the East Coast Sunday, canceling thousands of airline flights and delaying tens of thousands.
As the storm dumped up to 10 inches of snow on some places in the midwest, ground travel wasn’t looking so good, either. Snow triggered a 15-car pileup that closed a swath of Interstate 55 in southeastern Missouri as snow. Even Amtrak was canceling trains between Chicago and New York and Washington and Philadelphia as the National Weather Service warned that conditions in the the upper northeast “could approach blizzard criteria.”
Compared to that, we had it pretty good Sunday, with the temperature holding around 70 of the in most of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. But the cascade of flight cancellations around the country did send some dominoes sprawling into South Florida -- particularly at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International.
By late afternoon, the airport had reported 31 cancellations and 63 delays. “That’s heavy for us,” said airport spokesman Greg Myer. “Problematic, but we’re working hard to get through it.” Here and there, tempers flared, especially among passengers just arrived from Caribbean cruises..
“The airlines may have sent out warnings that your flight has been canceled,” noted Myers. “But if you’re coming on a ship -- if you even get the message -- what are you going to do? You have to get off the ship, go to the airport and wait.”
Miami International had an easier time of it, with only 11 cancellations (nine arrivals, two departures) and 15 delays. “No issues so far,” said airport spokesman Greg Chin. . “If anything, the cancellations eased the pressured generated by arriving cruise-ship passengers.”