Travel Alert January 2017: Ice Storm Impacts Midwestern United States

I f the midwestern United States is in your travel plans over the next few days, you may want to consider delaying your travel — or, at least, keep yourself updated as to the latest information pertaining to the weather — as an ice storm is wreaking havoc on flights and ground transportation.

Travel Alert January 2017: Ice Storm Impacts Midwestern United States

A massive ice storm has been adversely affecting the midwestern United States. Substantial power outages and damage to trees is most likely to occur in central Kansas and western Oklahoma — areas which are expected to be impacted the most…

…but even a thin layer of ice can significantly disrupt travel — which is why winter weather watches, warnings and advisories have been issued in virtually half of the states in the United States.

The southeastern United States has been enjoying warmer temperatures this past week — which means that the line between warm and cold weather has moved north and west into the midwestern United States. When precipitation occurs in warmer weather in areas where the ground is freezing cold, the precipitation is in the form of rain; but it freezes upon impact with the ground and usually results in a coating of ice. This phenomenon is known as freezing rain; and that is what typically causes ice storms. Freezing rain should not be confused with sleet, which is precipitation that starts off in liquid form but is already frozen into little pellets by the time it hits the ground.

Regardless of experience with winter weather, ice is almost impossible on which to walk — let alone drive, take off or land; and especially on hilly terrain — and even after taking measures to melt it, it can refreeze during the night when the air is colder and there is no radiation from the light of the sun. This can lead to “black ice” — ice which exists but is difficult to see — and it can cause accidents without notice.

People poked fun at the debacle which occurred almost three years ago in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area due to the abysmal lack of response by state and local authorities to a winter storm. Although there were plenty of flight delays and cancellations as a result back then, highways were clogged with abandoned cars due to severe gridlock conditions and ice on the roadways throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area — parts of which had issues with ice only last week.

Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations

If you are traveling to anywhere in the southern or eastern United States over the few days, expect delays and cancellations of flights. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to these tropical systems which may adversely affect your travel plans. Better yet, postponing or canceling your trip might be a better option — no matter which mode of travel you plan on taking.

If you have a flight scheduled, your flight may be delayed or canceled — and you may be eligible for a waiver of a fee to change your itinerary. If you are driving in any of these areas, watch out for deteriorating weather conditions and traffic problems.

Here are six airlines which have issued travel alerts as a result of the ice storm:


As you can see, the aforementioned alerts widely vary by airline; so be sure to contact your airline or transportation provider for the latest information pertaining to your travels — if they are adversely affected — and please: travel safely.

Photograph ©2011 by Brian Cohen.

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