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Gonzalo
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:10 am

Quoting moose135 (Reply 48):
It's not 2 inches of snow causing the problems, it's the solid coating of ice on everything.

Exactly. They are not dealing with powdery snow. They are dealing with layers of solid ice sticked to all the surfaces, and with very low temperaturas, de-icing chemicals are not enough to melt everything. Not a funny situation. Not to mention that even if you are able to de-ice a plane, that plane is useless if the flight/cabin crew can't reach the airport because all the roads are closed.... and the same for the passengers.

Rgds.
G.
 
B757Forever
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:37 am

Quoting JetBuddy (Reply 46):

It's difficult for me to comprehend that 2 inches of snow is causing this much trouble. Looking at the picture B757Forever posted.. if that was at OSL, and someone asked tower if there was snow on the tarmac, the controller would have replied "negative".

Based on that photo I would agree. I took that photo about two hours after first snow fell. As the day progressed the wet snow continued to fall and partially melt. The temperature then fell to around 16F. The result was almost 1 inch of solid ice on all hard surfaces and temperatures that have not exceeded uppers 20's for the last 24 hours. Made for difficult operations all over. Remember, ATL is a city that rarely gets snow most years.
 
Viscount724
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:55 am

Quoting JetBuddy (Reply 46):
It's difficult for me to comprehend that 2 inches of snow is causing this much trouble. Looking at the picture B757Forever posted.. if that was at OSL, and someone asked tower if there was snow on the tarmac, the controller would have replied "negative".

Have you ever been to LHR when 2 inches of snow fall? It's normally chaos, and they see snow more often than ATL.
 
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JetBuddy
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:19 am

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 52):
Have you ever been to LHR when 2 inches of snow fall? It's normally chaos, and they see snow more often than ATL.

No, but I've seen the conditions there on the news whenever it snows. Crazy stuff. I wonder why they can't get prepared better for winter conditions.

Quoting AVLAirlineFreq (Reply 49):
It's not just the 2 inches of snow that caused the problems in metro Atlanta. First, traffic in Atlanta is awful even on the best of days. Everyone left their workplace at nearly the same time yesterday, around noon, which was also when most schools let out. By then, it was too late--the snow had started earlier than anticipated, and gridlock commenced literally within an hour.

Then you had cars and 18-wheelers sitting on top of the snow, melting it with their heat, and then having it refreeze into sheets of ice. At that point, it doesn't matter how much snow removal equipment you have. If you can't get to it because of traffic, it's useless. Throw in relatively inexperienced drivers and a hilly city, and you've got chaos.

Okay that makes more sense.. if we're talking about a couple of inches of solid ice, and not slushy snow.. that would cause problems almost anywhere.
 
rfields5421
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:04 am

Quoting JetBuddy (Reply 53):
No, but I've seen the conditions there on the news whenever it snows. Crazy stuff. I wonder why they can't get prepared better for winter conditions.

What we see along the fringe zone of cold weather is something completely different from what folks in real winter see.

Most of what we get turns quickly into solid ice. Not snow, not sleet - sheets of thick hard ice.

The problem gets even worse when the daytime traffic is able to break up some of the ice on the roads - which refreezes at night even harder.

Places with real winter and temps that stay well below freezing don't have this happen often. The cars are equipped with the proper tires to drive in those conditions. The people have plenty of practice driving such conditions.

Businesses have plans for their employees safety if weather turns very bad, schools plan for such events, etc.

Atlanta, Dallas, etc. - see such weather conditions once every five or six years - sometimes it is 20 years between such events.

Even if there is will to spend billions of dollars on the equipment to help deal somewhat with such a weather event every few years - the people still will not be prepared and practiced to take care of themselves.

No snow tires, no preparation for being stranded, etc.

Likely fully half the people stranded on the freeways who abandoned their vehicles did not even have proper warm clothing for such temps, gloves, hats, etc.
 
srbmod
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:38 am

Quoting Gonzalo (Reply 50):
They are not dealing with powdery snow.

The snow we got is pretty powdery, as I was among those driving out in it and watching it blow around like the clouds of pollen we get in the Spring. You really cannot even make a decent snowball with it. The thing is that the initial snowfall melted as soon as it hit the roads (On Monday, the high here in Atlanta was 59F so the roads were still a bit warm when the storm hit.) and froze over and the snow piled on top of that (The opposite of what happened here in 2011 when we had snow first and then freezing rain and ice on top of it.

Things will hopefully start getting better tomorrow afternoon, as temperatures will be well above freezing and by the weekend, we're expecting highs in the 60s and a chance of rain. The problem is that things won't be back to normal at ATL and other airports until probably next week as it may take that long to get everyone whose flights were canceled to get where they need to go.
 
rfields5421
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:23 am

Another example.

What they are dealing with in Atlanta is more like trying to run an airport (or highways) on a hockey rink than packed snow.
 
PSU.DTW.SCE
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:32 am

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 54):
What we see along the fringe zone of cold weather is something completely different from what folks in real winter see.
Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 54):
Atlanta, Dallas, etc. - see such weather conditions once every five or six years - sometimes it is 20 years between such events.

Agreed. I lived my entire life in cold, snowy regions of the country. Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. Places that get 150"+ a year.

I've been through 2 severe winter weather events in Dallas when I've been caught there during a trip and the amount of ice in these areas is staggering. These southern snow storms put down more ice due in part since the weather is a battle between warm air masses over the Gulf / Atlantic and Cold air coming down from Canada. The ground is usually warmer at first which melts the initial precipitation and then it freezes up and ices over shortly thereafter.

In most northern snowstorms, it is just that snow. The air and ground temps are often much colder which causes less icing issues. Regions up north have the equipment to deal with it since it gets used on average 2-3 times a week during the winter.

Quoting srbmod (Reply 55):
Things will hopefully start getting better tomorrow afternoon, as temperatures will be well above freezing and by the weekend, we're expecting highs in the 60s and a chance of rain. The problem is that things won't be back to normal at ATL and other airports until probably next week as it may take that long to get everyone whose flights were canceled to get where they need to go.

Note how there have been very few reports about the chaos at ATL in all of this. Its everywhere else in the region that is a mess. Due to proactive cancelations, rebooking, weather waivers, and now actually having plans to handle these situations. ATL is coping better on whole than the rest of the region. Proactive cancelations cause less chaos, are more orderly, and allow for a quicker return to normal operations. This is something the city/county/region could learn from all of this.

One other this is that the backlog actually isn't as bad as one might think in these situations. When a big weather event as such hits - passengers either try to switch to get out before/after the storm, travel by other means (e.g., buy a one-way on another airline, drive, train, switch their arrival/departure city, connect over a different airport (e.g., DTW or MSP instea of ATL), or cancel outright.

People who would've been flying DEN-ATL-BOS were accomodated on routings like DEN-DTW-BOS.
People who had 1-2 day trips for business for ATL will cancel there entire trip.

DL and ATL will bounce back pretty quickly and during this time of the year, the backlog issue shouldn't be too big.
 
luckyone
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:36 am

Quoting AVLAirlineFreq (Reply 49):
Quoting JetBuddy (Reply 46):

It's difficult for me to comprehend that 2 inches of snow is causing this much trouble. Looking at the picture B757Forever posted.. if that was at OSL, and someone asked tower if there was snow on the tarmac, the controller would have replied "negative".

It's not just the 2 inches of snow that caused the problems in metro Atlanta. First, traffic in Atlanta is awful even on the best of days. Everyone left their workplace at nearly the same time yesterday, around noon, which was also when most schools let out. By then, it was too late--the snow had started earlier than anticipated, and gridlock commenced literally within an hour.

Then you had cars and 18-wheelers sitting on top of the snow, melting it with their heat, and then having it refreeze into sheets of ice. At that point, it doesn't matter how much snow removal equipment you have. If you can't get to it because of traffic, it's useless. Throw in relatively inexperienced drivers and a hilly city, and you've got chaos.

That's the typical problem in Georgia when it snows. The roads are still warm when it starts falling, but then all the melted snow freezes into a solid sheet of ice if the temperature continued to plummet. As someone else mentioned too, this is the first time in a very long time that one of these storms hit in the middle of a work day. In 2009 the bad storm hit on a Sunday afternoon (I lived at the bottom of a steep hill at the time and remember moving my car to the top of the hill when the snow started). In 2011 it hit overnight. Now, IMHO, proper planning and awareness could've mitigated this still. Despite the fact that the forecasts were for less snow, ANY amount of snow causes problems in hilly Georgia with inexperienced (and panicky) drivers. I don't have a lot of sympathy for planners who seem to have acted like nothing was out of the ordinary. They should have canceled school beforehand, which would've kept a lot of people at home. Like I said, ANY amount of snow in Georgia causes problems, and the refreeze is often worse. Unlike northern cities where not only are the ample salt trucks and there is less chance of a freeze-thaw-refreeze cycle.
 
ThomasMTroxell
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:24 am

I've noticed that many of the people reporting on this storm (national news) weren't reporting on the ice that was actually causing issues. Many news agencies made it seem like the city shut down over 2 inches of snow when in reality it was all of that thick ice. In the defense of Atlanta, for the longest time the forecast showed the bulk of the storm hitting Middle Georgia. I attend school southeast of Macon at MGSC. The flight school at the satellite campus is located at EZM, and we were anticipating 3 inches of snow plus .25-.50 inches of ice. About 12 hours before the anticipated arrival of the storm the weather services started saying that the storm was taking a more northerly track. GDOT sent most of their equipment to Middle GA and when the forecast was updated and GDOT finally acted they had to move personnel and equipment back north. By this time it was too late to start preemptively treating roads. The school systems all let out at the same time (minus my home system of Gwinnett; but then again they'd have class during the apocalypse). Couple that with the closing of businesses and government agencies, an earlier than anticipated snowfall (but still not "unexpected") and it creates huge problems. Down in Mid GA, we didn't get below freezing until 3am (as reported by EZM) so everything that did hit us melted. Macon got some ice and snow, but it was still significantly less than ATL.

Today, the Domestic Checkpoint line at ATL was running between 1.5-3 hours long. 11Alive told passengers to try the F checkpoint, even if they were domestic, though I'm not too sure how that would have worked. The TSA is at a bare minimum staffing. Pictures of the Domestic terminal show the line winding from the Main Checkpoint all the way back to the West Entrance/MARTA Station.

Also someone asked how many planes ATL usually pushes during a period of calm, sunny weather. Most days they are pushing about 115-125/hr. Yesterday evening it looks like they were doing about 10-20. The crews that are at the airport have been there overnight and have been working pretty frantically trying to rebook pax.

While still inaccurate, there are several models that are predicting another winter storm event for Atlanta between Feb 8-18. Let's hope the city is better prepared and it doesn't hit during the day.

If you're in the Atlanta area or were affected by the storm in the southeast please try to stay safe.
 
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JetBuddy
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:13 pm

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 54):
What we see along the fringe zone of cold weather is something completely different from what folks in real winter see.

Most of what we get turns quickly into solid ice. Not snow, not sleet - sheets of thick hard ice.

The problem gets even worse when the daytime traffic is able to break up some of the ice on the roads - which refreezes at night even harder.

Places with real winter and temps that stay well below freezing don't have this happen often. The cars are equipped with the proper tires to drive in those conditions. The people have plenty of practice driving such conditions.

Businesses have plans for their employees safety if weather turns very bad, schools plan for such events, etc.

Atlanta, Dallas, etc. - see such weather conditions once every five or six years - sometimes it is 20 years between such events.

Even if there is will to spend billions of dollars on the equipment to help deal somewhat with such a weather event every few years - the people still will not be prepared and practiced to take care of themselves.

No snow tires, no preparation for being stranded, etc.

Likely fully half the people stranded on the freeways who abandoned their vehicles did not even have proper warm clothing for such temps, gloves, hats, etc.

Oh I understand the challenges that comes with snow and ice when people don't have any experience driving on it, or have snow tires or anything.

I was thinking about the airport operations and the delays there. The pilots flying in and out of Atlanta have all landed in conditions much worse than what ATL is currently experiencing. Many of them several times a day. And from the picture I saw (I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions about the weather based on that alone), the mere 2 inches of snow shouldn't have caused such havoc. Now, if there's 2 inches of thick ice covering all the taxiways, high speeds and runways.. I can understand that might cause some delays.

But regarding the investments required to deal with winter ops, several billion dollars sounds way too much. I work in a company that does this kind of thing every day. I don't know ATL very well myself, but I know it's an enormous airport both in pax numbers and area covered. Still, the delays and effects of the delays of this airport alone probably costs airlines, businesses and the rest of society a fortune every time this thing happens. So investing in better equipment and training for avoiding chaos sounds like a good investment to me, even if it only happens (this bad) every 5 years.
 
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AVLAirlineFreq
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:28 pm

All things considered, I think ATL the airport and DL did a very good job, particularly given the human resources they had available to them given what else was going on in the metro area at the time. DL's proactive approach to cancelling flights worked and kept many pax from being stranded overnight, which would have made a bad situation even worse.

Frankly, summer thunderstorms are much more of a problem for ATL than snow and ice.
 
PSU.DTW.SCE
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:31 pm

Quoting JetBuddy (Reply 60):
I was thinking about the airport operations and the delays there. The pilots flying in and out of Atlanta have all landed in conditions much worse than what ATL is currently experiencing. Many of them several times a day. And from the picture I saw (I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions about the weather based on that alone), the mere 2 inches of snow shouldn't have caused such havoc. Now, if there's 2 inches of thick ice covering all the taxiways, high speeds and runways.. I can understand that might cause some delays.
Quoting AVLAirlineFreq (Reply 61):
All things considered, I think ATL the airport and DL did a very good job, particularly given the human resources they had available to them given what else was going on in the metro area at the time. DL's proactive approach to cancelling flights worked and kept many pax from being stranded overnight, which would have made a bad situation even worse.

ATL (the airport) and DL have done a good job by all accounts. At least as good as they can do in this type of situation.
1. Proactive cancelations
2. Winter weather waiver to change/cancel reservations
3. Providing accomodations for critical staff to stay at the airport (e.g., sleeping on parked aircraft with lie-flat seats)
4. Keeping limited operations moving to get people to major destinations

You are not hearing any stories about 1000s of passengers stuck on airplanes on taxiways for hours, 1000s of passenger stranded in the airport (I'm sure there are many there, but that is to be expected in situations like this).

Frankly, DL gave you the out to avoid ATL by being able to change/cancel your trip. If you felt it was critical for you to get to/from/through ATL with the potential weather situation, you knew you might be facing massive delays, multiple cancelations, and potentially being holed-up at the airport for 1-2 days. That is the new norm for air travel, but at least there is a little more predictability and proactiveness versus what used to happen.

There are five major issues, that are critical to being able to operate and recover in winter weather
1. Ice/snow removal from the airport (runways/taxiways)
2. Ice/snow removal from aircrat (deicing)
3. Aircraft position
4. Crew position
5. Employees being able to get work / showing-up to work to operate the airport/airline

4 & 5 are often the most overlooked and weakest link in these types of events. If they cannot drive on the roads or are stuck elsewhere they cannot get to work and the airport/airline cannot operate anywhere near full capacity.

This includes - ramp, customer service/gate agents, maintenenance/Tech Ops, pilots, FAs, TSA, airport operations, FAA, airport concessions, etc. Thousands of people.

Getting the airfield open during and following a storm is often one of the easier tasks and the runways are often cleared before most of the highways in the region.

Quoting JetBuddy (Reply 60):

But regarding the investments required to deal with winter ops, several billion dollars sounds way too much. I work in a company that does this kind of thing every day. I don't know ATL very well myself, but I know it's an enormous airport both in pax numbers and area covered. Still, the delays and effects of the delays of this airport alone probably costs airlines, businesses and the rest of society a fortune every time this thing happens. So investing in better equipment and training for avoiding chaos sounds like a good investment to me, even if it only happens (this bad) every 5 years.

Cost/benefit has to factor into the equation and that is something that everyone will have to look into when they do a post-mortem on this storm. If the frequency really is once every 3 years then what is the cost/benefit of getting a full fleet of snow/ice removal equipment? Is it easier to just proactively shut-down for 1-2 days every few years? What
good does a fleet of 50 deice trucks do at the airport if no one (passengers or employees) can get to the airport?

While ATL is massive, there is ability for DL to re-route passengers over unaffected hubs. In a storm of this magnitude many other cities were knocked-out during the storm. RDU, CLT, ORF, MSY, SAV, CHS, CAE, SAT, etc.

So someone may have been flying DEN-ATL-BOS can't go through ATL, but they could connect over DTW, MSP, CVG, LGA, SLC, etc.
Another person may have been going DEN-DTW-RDU and since DTW-RDU is cancelled they may postpone their trip, opening up a seat on DEN-DTW for that passenger who needs to get to BOS. Multiple these scenarios by the thousands and there is a lot of ability to re-route connections over other hubs.

Again, I don't have the exact numbers, but in events like this there is a fairly high percentage of trips that just vaporize / get cancelled and people are not stuck somewhere in-transit. Business travel in particular that just gets cancelled and the trip is in vain.

Quoting AVLAirlineFreq (Reply 61):
Frankly, summer thunderstorms are much more of a problem for ATL than snow and ice.

Yes, while predictable at times, much shorter horizon for cancelations and delays. Plus more frequent than the once-every-three years snow event.
 
rfields5421
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:55 pm

Quoting JetBuddy (Reply 60):
I was thinking about the airport operations and the delays there.

They dealt well with airport ops and delays. The big problems are ground transportation.

If DL and other airlines fly into ATL - the people could not/ can not get out of the airport to their homes. Or even hotels in many cases.

There are almost no departure pax getting to the airport. Even getting in enough staff to man ground ops, aircraft services, terminal passenger services, restaurants etc - is almost impossible.


During the ice storm at DFW in December - a similar event - Qantas delayed one flight 24 hours. They were able to secure hotel rooms for all the pax. What they found is that it was too dangerous for busses to move the passengers the three miles to the hotel. Many pax ended up sleeping on the plane rather than in cots in the terminal.

Of the approx. 6,500 people stranded in the DFW terminals the first night - fully half were arriving pax who were unable to leave the airport to go home. For many their automobiles were frozen to the ground unable to move even if the former pax tried to get on the roads.

Two major freeways out of the DFW area were completely shut down.


Atlanta has similar freeway closure problems.


CNN had a very good article on the issues with ATL, and DFW, and the key point boils down to those cities have evolved into a metropolitan area as large as the entire state of Connecticut - without reliable public transportation during any major weather event.

Automobiles are the only way for close to 5 or 6 million people to travel.


And unlike big cities in northeast or Midwest - the government structure is not organized to provide central control.


The mayor of Atlanta has no power to shutdown freeways. He has no power to close the schools early for the weather emergency. He has no power to prioritize area wide emergency resources. Dozens of area cities each make their own decisions. Dozens of school districts make their own decisions, etc. The governor of the state has similar limits to his emergency powers.


Same thing in the DFW and IAH areas.

In the DFW area - sanding and clearing local streets is the responsibility of each individual city. The major freeways are the responsibility of the state Department of Transportation. The tollways are the responsibility of the regional tollway authority.


One of the few things I agree with Texas Governor Rick Perry about is that he wants the ability to stagger evacuations from the coastal areas in case of a hurricane. He doesn't have that power. No one does. The individual counties each decide if they need to evacuate and when. Though if they have largish (over 10K pop) towns/ cities in their area - most of those decide individually.

Perry was given the authority to 'reverse' the freeways for up to 100 miles from the cities impacts. He has no authority to ensure that facilities are available for food, fuel, water for evacuees along evacuation routes. Non-freeway evacuation routes can even be closed by local towns, as happened to me helping get my son and his family out of mainland Galveston County for Rita.
 
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JetBuddy
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:45 am

Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 62):
4. Crew position
5. Employees being able to get work / showing-up to work to operate the airport/airline
Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 63):
There are almost no departure pax getting to the airport. Even getting in enough staff to man ground ops, aircraft services, terminal passenger services, restaurants etc - is almost impossible.

I completely overlooked these issues in my head. My focus was solely on the winter ops inside the airport perimeter, and I didn't take into account pax and crew not showing up for their flights.
 
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zippyjet
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:59 am

Quoting Gonzalo (Thread starter):

So far each day of 2014 has featured a "weather cluster *uck" in at least one city. Flight cancellations, delays and overall irregular operations BKA "IROP" have been the new normal. Hopefully things will get better. This has been the coldest January in the Eastern half of the nation with above average precipitation which has been of the frozen variety. And though it may not be as monstrously cold the storm activity will ramp up and the amounts of heavy precipitation will go up. Everyone from weather folk to numerologists to psychics have said that Mother Nature will be anything but motherly this entire year. So, from animal cold and frozen precipitation right into the Spring Thunderstorm/Tornado season to the Hurricane season and so on.
 
71Zulu
Posts: 1932
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 12:42 am

RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:58 am

The last frozen bridge around MSY was just re-opened about 6 hours ago, with all the elevated roadways and bridges around here we were hit pretty hard with this ice, hasn't been this much ice around here since the 80's. ATL was way worse with some stranded in the cars 18 hours or more, many kids stuck at school and had to sleep there, people leaving their cars everywhere and walking home, it was a real disaster and should make for some fun campaign commercials at re-election time.

Here's some pics around Atlanta area,

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/25/us/gal.../weather-0125/index.html?hpt=hp_t1
 
TW870
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:39 am

The preemptive cancellation process does seem to prevent a lot of chaos. Though few people have been able to connect through Atlanta, there has not been a meltdown.

I am interested in the ramp-up, though. Here in Dayton, they cancelled the two morning flights today (Thursday). The noon flight is no less than 12 hours late. Check this out - and delta.com agrees with flightaware:

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/DAL1521

The 7pm flight is 5 hours late, and thus there are two MD-88s leaving 10 minutes apart, one 12 hours late, one 5 hours late. The 4:30 flight was only an hour and a half late.

Anyone know why they would delay that flight 12 hours? Did crew time out and they just gave them a daytime layover? I just wonder why they wouldn't just scrub and try to catch back up tomorrow?
 
MesaFlyGuy
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RE: Winter Storm In US Southern States: Effects?

Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:10 am

Quoting TW870 (Reply 67):
Anyone know why they would delay that flight 12 hours? Did crew time out and they just gave them a daytime layover?

I saw a similar situation on a 717 going from CHS-ATL today. The 6am departure left around 2:20pm and I noticed that the aircraft had come in last night around 1:30am, instead of the scheduled 9:45pm. I thought it would makes sense that they had a ten hour layover in compliance with the new regulations, and took an additional delay due to ATC restrictions.

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