TIME weather

Thanksgiving Travel Chaos Amid Winter Storms, More Than 200 Flights Canceled

Looming snowstorms and heavy rain will likely spur additional travel delays and cancellations during the beginning of the Thanksgiving weekend

More than 200 commercial flights were canceled by late Tuesday night ahead of the busiest travel day of the year for Americans, as weather forecasters predict that snowstorms and rain are likely to pound the northeast throughout Wednesday and Thursday.

Approximately half the flight cancellations came from just two airports, New York LaGuardia and Newark Liberty, according to USA Today.

On Tuesday, the New York City Office of Emergency Management issued a travel advisory that a “total of 3-5 inches of heavy, wet snow” is forecast to blanket the Big Apple Wednesday, resulting in “dangerous driving conditions throughout the day.”

The National Weather Service also issued numerous winter storm warnings for large swaths of the American northeast stretching from the Appalachia Mountains in North Carolina to the Maine coastline.

The news comes less than a week after the American Automobile Association predicted that more than 46 million Americans would travel 50 miles or more from their homes during the Thanksgiving weekend — the largest number for the holiday in the past seven years.

On a brighter note, drivers hitting the road will enjoy the lowest gasoline prices since December 2010 as global oil prices continue to slide. And that, at least, is something to be thankful for.

MONEY holiday travel

5 Strategies for Surviving the Coming Thanksgiving Travel Nightmare

Travelers make their way through security lines at Denver International Airport, November 27, 2013.
RJ Sangosti—Denver Post via Getty Images

With storms threatening to put your holiday travel plans on ice, don't head to the airport unprepared. Instead, go on the defensive with these moves.

Planning to fly home for Turkey Day on Wednesday? With weather reports for Thanksgiving travel looking, well, less than ideal, smart travelers should prepare for a rough day at the airport. These tips will help you get to your destination as quickly as possible, sanity intact.

1. Check in early

During bad weather, oversold flights can be more of a problem, as stranded passengers buy up any open seats.

Your best defense against getting bumped? Checking in online as close to 24 hours ahead of time as possible, according to TripAdvisor travel advocate Wendy Perrin. Not only will you be less likely to lose your seat, but you will also have the best shot of choosing a good one.

2. Know your rights

Did everything right but still got bumped? If the airline rebooks you on a flight that will make you more than an hour late, you’re entitled to a cash or check payment of up to 400% of your one-way fare.

The rules are less clear-cut for delays and cancellations. Airlines are not required to pay for meals or other amenities for delayed passengers, though some do, so it’s worth asking (more on that below). If your flight is cancelled, the airline will typically rebook you on their next available flight. In some cases, carriers may be willing to put you on a flight with a different airline, so check out those options, too.

3. Stay informed in real-time

If you get stuck with a cancellation, don’t just let the airline automatically put you on a different flight. First, check out your options at FlightStats.com, which shows delayed and canceled flights all across the country. There may be a different itinerary that’s a better fit for your schedule.

4. Photograph your valuables

Losing expensive belongings is always upsetting, but tack on a crazy snowstorm and chaotic airport and you have the formula for a nervous breakdown.

Be prepared for the worst by keeping receipts for, and snapshots of, anything pricey in your luggage. Airlines are legally obligated to reimburse up to $3,300 for your lost possessions.

5. Turn on the charm

Whether you’re dealing with lost luggage, delays, a cancelled flight, or any other travel nightmare, it’s important to be as polite as possible when making a complaint.

“Take a deep breath. Remember that despite everything that has happened, you are still alive and, in fact, breathing. Then come talk to me and explain your situation,” writes flight attendant Cary Trey at ThePointsGuy.com.

Going a step beyond politeness and being extra kind to the person you’re dealing with—who, let’s face it, has probably been having a pretty bad day, too—can’t hurt. Trey suggests carrying mini-boxes of chocolates to show gratitude to those who go the extra mile to help you out.

If that sounds like a bit much, even a simple, “Thank you so much for your help, and happy Thanksgiving!” will be enough make you stand out from the grumbling masses.

 

TIME

Morning Must Reads: November 25

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Ferguson Erupts as Cop Cleared

A prosecutor’s announcement late Monday that a grand jury declined to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting unarmed black teenager Michael Brown sparked renewed violent protests in the St. Louis suburb throughout the night

Understanding the Cosby Scandal

Here’s a cheat sheet to understanding a scandal that mixes old allegations and new; 16 women have publicly accused the comedian of sexual assault

Why Chuck Hagel Resigned

The Defense Secretary is stepping down less than two years into the job, after his low-profile demeanor was deemed ill-suited for ISIS fight

FDA Beefs Up Calorie Count Requirements

Regulators on Tuesday will announce new rules mandating that a wider array of businesses than ever before display calorie counts for their food and alcoholic beverages, including chain restaurants, movie theaters, and even vending machines

Your Thanksgiving Travel Will Be Snarled by Snow

Roads north and west of I-95 will likely be blanketed by snow Wednesday night, and the National Weather Service says the New York area could see 6 to 10 in. of snow. Travelers should expect clogged roads and airport delays up and down the east coast into Thursday

Americans Divided Over Obama’s Immigration Moves

Americans are sharply split on their reaction to President Barack Obama’s recent executive actions to protect about five million undocumented immigrants from deportation and give them temporary legal status, according to a new poll

Toy Guns Create Deadly Problems for Police

The death of a 12-year-old boy named Tamir Rice, who was killed by Cleveland police after they mistook his novelty gun for a real one in a public park, is the most recent example of what can happen when police mistake a play weapon for a real firearm

Why Detroit Schools Are Courting Middle-Class Parents

Detroit school officials are pursuing the city’s high percentage of middle-class families in an attempt revitalize its troubled school system. But to significantly improve, the school system needs more students – and the money that comes with them

Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Are at It Again

The pair are no strangers—most memorably, they collaborated together on Stefani’s 2005 hit “Hollaback Girl”—and they’re at it again, this time for her latest single, “Spark the Fire.” Stefani hasn’t released a new album since 2006’s The Sweet Escape

U.N. Will Miss Dec. 1 Goal for Containing Ebola

The U.N. mission responsible for responding to the Ebola outbreak will miss its Dec. 1 target for containing the disease because of rising transmission rates in the West African countries of Sierra Leone and Mali. The mission chief said fresh setbacks made the target impossible

Casablanca Piano Sells for $3.4 Million

The piano on which Ilsa famously asked Sam to play “As Time Goes By” in Casablanca was sold at a New York auction on Monday for $3.4 million. A miniature instrument and golden yellow in color, the piano is hard to recognize as an iconic prop from the 1942 blockbuster

Western New York Prepares for Floods

New York officials warned that the record-breaking amount of snow blanketing the western parts of the state might wreak more havoc, as warmer weather threatens to inundate the area with water

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TIME weather

Storm Threatens Thanksgiving Travel Chaos

"Travel is not going to be a lot of fun"

Millions of Americans planning to take to the roads and skies for Thanksgiving were facing travel chaos due to a storm that’s forecast to batter the Northeast on Wednesday. Meteorologists said early Tuesday that the nor’easter was likely to hit on a day when more than 46 million people across the nation were expected to journey 50 miles or more.

The nor’easter could dump from three to five inches of snow on the New York and Philadelphia metro areas, based on current models, and one to three inches on Boston and Washington, D.C. “Travel is not going to be a lot of fun for people trying to get to grandma’s house on Wednesday…”

Read the rest of the story on from our partners at NBC News

TIME weather

Thanksgiving Travel Will Be Snarled by Snow

Bad Weather Driving
Dan Barnes—Getty Images

Roads north and west of I-95 will likely be blanketed by snow Wednesday night, and the National Weather Service says the New York area could see 6 to 10 in. of snow. Travelers should expect clogged roads and airport delays up and down the east coast into Thursday

Hate to break it to you, but if you are traveling anywhere on the East Coast this Thanksgiving, you may have a tough road ahead of you. Snow and ice is expected from New England to Georgia on Wednesday, which promises to snarl traffic on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

According to the Weather Channel, roads north and west of I-95 are likely to be blanketed by snow Wednesday night, and the National Weather Service says the New York area could see 6-10 inches of snow. Travelers should expect clogged roads and airport delays all up and down the eastern seaboard from Wednesday into Thursday morning.

Four-wheel drive is always something to be thankful for.

TIME weather

Western New York Braces for Floods

FDNY firefighters from New York City load a rescue boat to prepare for possible flooding following a massive snow storm in Williamsville
Firefighters from New York City load a rescue boat to prepare for possible flooding following a massive snow storm in Williamsville, New York on November 23, 2014. Mark Blinch —Reuters

State officials were mobilized over the weekend to prepare for the deluge

New York officials warn that the record-breaking amount of snow that has been blanketing the western parts of the state might wreak more havoc, as warmer weather threatens to inundate the area with water.

With temperatures set to hit the high 40s this week, the National Weather Service issued flood warnings on Sunday for several counties. Creeks have reportedly started to swell as the seven feet of snow that overwhelmed the region begins to melt.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said state officials had been activated over the weekend to prepare for potential flooding.

“With the possibility of flooding in areas already hit hard by major snowfall over the past few days, we have launched a massive deployment of emergency personnel and resources to western New York,” he said.

Cuomo said more than 500 National Guard members had been mobilized, while hundreds of water pumps and thousands of sandbags were in place to help combat any deluge.

TIME weather

Evacuation Plans Readied as Buffalo Flooding Looms

Erie County Holding Center inmates help pile sandbags to prepare for possible flooding following a massive snow storm in Williamsville
Erie County Holding Center inmates help pile sandbags to prepare for possible flooding following a massive snow storm in Williamsville, N.Y. on Nov. 23, 2014. Mark Blicnh—Reuters

"You prepare for the worst and hope for the best, and that's what we're doing"

BUFFALO, N.Y. — First came the big storm, then the big dig. Now comes the big melt.

Residents of flood-prone areas around Buffalo should move valuables up from the basement, pack a bag and prepare to for the possibility of evacuation as up to 7 feet of melting snow posed the threat of flooding, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Sunday.

“Err on the side of caution,” Cuomo said at a news conference in Cheektowaga. “You prepare for the worst and hope for the best, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Across the Buffalo region ? where rising temperatures were expected to approach 60 degrees on Monday ? people took that advice to heart.

In Hamburg, Pete Yeskoot bought a portable generator to make sure his sump pump will keep working once the roughly 80 inches of snow that fell on his property melts. Possessions are up on blocks in the basement and he has food for several days.

“Behind us is an 18-mile creek so everything in the village will come through us at some point, so we have to get ready for the possibility of flooding,” he said. “And given all this snow, we have to expect that this is real.”

Rain fell Sunday, with temperatures rising to 50. It was expected to be even warmer Monday, accompanied by more rain and rising winds, leading to the threat of toppled trees and power outages.

National Guard members spent Sunday clearing storm drains and culverts to facilitate runoff, and shoveling snow off roofs.

The National Weather Service said core samples of the deep snowpack showed it contained as much as 6 inches of water. Forecasters said some stretches of road in urban areas might become submerged under several feet of water if storm drains remained clogged.

The melt could first cause basements to fill up and roads to flood, but another concern was creeks overflowing. In West Seneca, there was already a sewer pump stationed near Michelle Pikula’s house along the Buffalo Creek.

“Hopefully the rain won’t be here until later and this will be a slow thaw, but flooding is our major, major concern here.”

Cuomo said evacuation plans and emergency shelters were being readied in case of flooding Sunday night and Monday. As a backup to Red Cross shelters, Cuomo said the state would have shelters at community colleges and state university campuses.

The state Thruway, which had been closed for 132 miles at the height of the lake-effect storm last week, was entirely open Sunday. All driving bans were lifted except in Lackawanna, where snow-removal crews worked to open up streets that had become parking lots with hundreds of abandoned, buried vehicles.

TIME Bill Cosby

Morning Must Reads: November 21

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The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

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Forecasters Warn of Rain in N.Y.

After relentless snowfall blanketed much of western New York this week, officials warned on Thursday that a new danger is now threatening the area — rain

NSA Warns Cyber Attacks Could Cripple U.S. Infrastructure

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World Heads Toward Warmest Year Ever

October marked the fifth month to break worldwide heat records. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on Thursday that the average global temperature for October was 58.43ºF (14.74ºC)

U.S. to Up Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine, Says Report

Washington is ready to increase its delivery of nonlethal aid to the Ukrainian government, but will refrain from furnishing Kiev with weapons to use in its fight against pro-Russian forces in the country’s southeast, according to a Reuters report citing unnamed U.S. officials

University of California Approves Steep Tuition Hike

Tuition at University of California schools could rise by as much as 28% by 2019 under a plan approved on Thursday. The vote by the system’s board pitted top state officials, including Governor Jerry Brown, against those who run the UC’s 10 campuses

Michael Brown Sr. Urges Calm Ahead of Grand Jury

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Suicide Helpline Aims to Help Transgender People

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How TIME Reviewed the Work of Mike Nichols

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Zoolander Will Return, With Penelope Cruz Attached

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Oakland Raiders Win First Game Since 2013

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We will hold an #AskTIME subscriber Q&A today, Friday, November 21, at 1 p.m., with TIME Washington bureau chief, Michael Scherer, who wrote this week’s story on America’s New Anchor, Jorge Ramos of Noticiero Univision. His other stories can be found here.

You can submit your questions beforehand on Twitter using the #AskTIME hashtag or in the comments of this post. We depend on smart, interesting questions from readers.

You will need to be a TIME subscriber to read the Q & A. ($30 a year or 8 cents a day for the magazine and all digital content.) Once you’re signed up, you can log in to the site with a username and password.

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TIME weather

After Epic Snowstorm Pummels Western New York, Forecasters Now Warn of Rain

Officials warn that weekend rains could put additional stress on roofs or cause flooding

After relentless, lake-effect snowfall blanketed much of western New York this week, officials warned on Thursday that a new peril is now looming — rain.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz told a press conference on Thursday that forecasted rain over the weekend might put additional strain on already stressed roofs as the snow absorbs the precipitation.

“There will be a rain starting on Saturday that will not initially create a situation where the snow will melt, but it will actually act as a sponge,” said Poloncarz, according to CNN. “So the water that is falling will go into the snow pack and will actually act as a sponge until it finally starts releasing it.”

Making matters worse, the National Weather Services warned early Friday that bouts of rainfall along with the arrival of warmer air could cause flooding over the weekend.

“Much warmer air will arrive over the weekend and into early next week along with rain showers at times … Potentially bringing a flood risk to areas which were buried by lake effect snow,” read a statement released by the agency.

Forecasts aside, authorities made steady progress and began clearing roads as snow continued to fall throughout Thursday. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown boasted on his Facebook page that city workers had removed more than 24,000 tons of snow from the city’s south side as of Thursday evening. However, the mayor warned residents that pedestrian travel was still prohibited in South Buffalo.

During a press conference earlier in the day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said state employees had cleared large swaths of highway clogged with several feet of snow but urged New Yorkers to refrain from driving in affected areas.

“Phase two of the storm is on its way and safety continues to be our top priority,” said the governor. “As snow removal efforts continue, we urge people to stay inside and off the roads so that we can get people back to their everyday routines as quickly as possible.”

After weathering three days of record snowfalls, homebound Buffalo residents also coped with back-to-back announcements that neither of the city’s beloved sports franchises would be able to host scheduled home games this weekend.

The NHL announced that Friday’s game between the Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers had been postponed indefinitely. Then the NFL said that the Bills home game against the New York Jets on Sunday will now take place more than 200 miles west in Detroit on Monday night.

TIME NFL

Bills-Jets Game Will Be Played in Detroit on Monday

Signora said the decision to not play Sunday in Buffalo was made "due to public safety concerns and the ongoing weather emergency"

The New York Jets-Buffalo Bills game will be played at Ford Field in Detroit at 7 p.m. ET on Monday, the NFL announced Thursday night.

The game will be televised by CBS in the Buffalo and New York City markets.

NFL vice president of football communications Michael Signora earlier announced that the game wouldn’t be played on Sunday in Buffalo. Signora said the decision to not play Sunday in Buffalo was made “due to public safety concerns and the ongoing weather emergency” and that the league was in the process of rescheduling and relocating the game.

Earlier Thursday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Bills coaches were preparing for the game to be held in Detroit, Pittsburgh or Washington, D.C.

FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo reported that one of Buffalo’s contingency plans was to fly out on Friday to wherever the game wouuld be played. Bills president Russ Brandon said that it “may not be possible” to get the team out of Buffalo for a game elsewhere.

A source told Schefter that Buffalo “will be hard pressed to get [the] stadium ready” for its Nov. 30 home game against the Cleveland Browns.

The Buffalo area has received more than six feet of snow this week and the region is expected to receive an additional 20 to 30 inches of snow Thursday, according to CNN.

The Bills said Wednesday that Ralph Wilson Stadium is currently under an estimated 220,000 tons of snow and the organization has offered to pay fans $10 an hour plus game tickets to shovel it. On Thursday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it is “impractical” for the Bills and Jets to play on Sunday due to the snow.

ESPN’s Rich Cimini reports Jets coach Rex Ryan said he has contingency plans in place in the event the game and/or date is changed.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

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