I was planning to fly to Tampa today, then give presentations at the Charlotte County Genealogical Society in Port Charlotte, Florida, on Friday as well as some other presentations at the Pinellas Genealogical Society in Largo, Florida, on Saturday. However, Mother Nature got in the way.
If you live in the north central or northeastern part of the United States, you already know the problem. If you live elsewhere, check your newscasts. The north central and northeastern states have received a second crippling blizzard in the past two weeks. Several major cities are just about shut down right now with snow-clogged highways.
More than 6,000 flights have been canceled in the U.S. in the past two days, according to FlightStats.com. That is the most since at least 2004, when the Oregon-based company started gathering data, said Meara McLaughlin, vice president of business development.
More than 500 flights have been canceled for today, and “hundreds and hundreds more” are likely, she said.
Of course, clogged highways means the buses don't run. Amtrak, the national passenger railroad, hasn’t run a full schedule since last week’s storm.
Strangely, the snowfall where I live has been very light, only an inch or two. The major problems exist in cities south of me: New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. I planned to fly from Manchester, New Hampshire. Indeed, that airport is open right now, and a few planes are traveling in and out, but very few. The flight I booked was scheduled to stop at Philadelphia and then continue on to Tampa. Philadelphia International Airport has had problems with more than 8 inches of new snow.
The biggest problem is a lack of airplanes: most of them are either sitting in the southern or western parts of the country or else are snowed in at some airport in the east. In theory, a non-stop flight could take place from my local (open) airport to Florida, but there is no aircraft and no aircrew available. Even the non-stops to sunny areas in other parts of the country are not flying simply because the airlines don't have aircraft or rested crews in all the right places. The few airliners that are flying in the east are all overbooked as the airlines try to get stranded passengers to their destinations. Obtaining a ticket on one of the few flights to leave is essentially impossible.
My flight was canceled because the aircraft never arrived in Manchester. It was stuck someplace else. There are no seats available on any other flights headed to Florida. So, I'll be home this weekend.
To the folks in Port Charlotte and in Largo who planned on attending one of these presentations: my apologies. I was looking forward to the trip, but it now looks impossible.