Hundreds of flights were cancelled and thousands more delayed across the United States on Thursday as a powerful winter storm swept through the centre of the country, frustrating holiday travellers.
More than 6,500 flights were delayed and some 800 more were cancelled, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.
A mix of rain, snow and strong winds also made travel dangerous or impossible on roads, especially in the northern and central plains, where some areas could see more than a foot of snow before the storm subsides Friday.
Authorities reported white out conditions in parts of Nebraska and closed a section of an interstate road.
North Dakota issued a no-travel advisory for the entire eastern side of the state. A small airport in the city of Fargo was shut down and all flights were cancelled.
The severe weather arrived as many Americans were traveling for the Christmas holiday.
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Texas—a major hub for American Airlines through which more than 200,000 holiday travellers were expected to pass—experienced the heaviest disruptions. More than 450 flights were cancelled and more than 600 others were delayed.
“Our Christmas vacation is ruined,” stranded traveller Denise Knight told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper.
“By the time we get where we’re going, it’ll be time for us to come back. Now we’ve got hotel rooms, no luggage, no clean clothes and no guaranteed flights until Saturday.”
The National Weather Service forecast heavy snow and gusty winds would persist through early Friday in north central states while heavy rainfall, with potential flash flooding, was possible in parts of the South.