Record-breaking unseasonably cold temperatures caused by the meteorological
phenomenon known as the Polar Vortex have disrupted air traffic across the eastern seaboard to the Midwest and as far south as Brownsville, Texas and Central Florida.
Over half the flights from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport had to be cancelled due to frozen fuel supplies. Tuesday’s temperature registered as low as minus 12F in the Windy City.
According to FlightAware.com, an airline tracking website, about 4,000 flights across the country were cancelled, while about 7,500 were delayed. One of the problems caused by the weather was the inability of ground crews to tolerate staying outdoors for more than 15 minutes at a time due to the extreme temperatures. Hundreds of flights were forced to cancel by airlines such as United, Southwest and American.
“The fuel and glycol supplies are frozen at (Chicago O’Hare) and other airports in the Midwest and Northeast,” said Andrea Huguely, a spokeswoman for American Airlines Group. “We are unable to pump fuel and or de-ice.”
JetBlue just finished spending five days catching up with their schedules after last week’s snowstorm caused delays and cancellations. The most recent bout with bad weather caused the airline to stop their operations at three airports in the New York area and at Boston Logan International Airport. JetBlue gave their crews a chance to rest and recover from the frigid temperatures from 5pm on Monday evening until 10am on Tuesday morning.
Not everything came to a standstill due to the freezing cold, however. One woman in a Chicago suburb was seen shoveling snow from her driveway while her pickup truck was idling to warm up a bit. When she and her car is ready she will be making the short drive to the mall where she is employed.
“I just wish I could get the day off too but it would take more than a bit of weather to close down the mall where I work,” she said.