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'Bomb cyclone' drops chaos on holiday travel plans in Connecticut

Bradley Airport Holiday Rush
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
Ruthi Davila walks with her sons Efrain (right) and Jarieo Cortes and their dog Bella at Bradley International Airport. Davila, who said their flight had been delayed two hours, was hoping to make it to Florida for an annual Christmas family gathering before a winter storm hit Connecticut.

President Joe Biden warned Americans to take seriously a storm that is spreading severe cold, snow and wind, saying Thursday from the Oval Office that “this is not like a snow day when you were a kid.”

The National Weather Service said that frigid air will move through the central United States to the east and that wind chill advisories will affect about 135 million people in coming days.

In Connecticut, the storm is expected to bring rain, localized flooding and strong winds – complicating travel plans this holiday weekend.

Officials at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks said Thursday that flight disruptions are expected due to the storm. Alisa Sisic, with the Connecticut Airport Authority, said it’s important for travelers to know their flight’s status before getting to the airport.

“Stay in close contact with your airline to confirm that your flight is still on time, that it’s not been delayed or even canceled,” Sisic said.

More than 1,800 flights had been canceled by midday Thursday nationwide, according to the tracking site FlightAware, with Chicago O'Hare and Denver International seeing the most cancellations. Freezing rain forced Delta Airlines to halt departures from its hub in Seattle.

“A lot of the airline partners have been issuing travel waivers, which means individuals have the opportunity to reschedule their flight at no additional charges,” Sisic said.

Forecasters expect a bomb cyclone to develop near the Great Lakes. That occurs when atmospheric pressure drops quickly in a strong storm.

Connecticut Public meteorologist Garett Argianas said heavy rain from Thursday is expected to cause moderate to locally major coastal flooding Friday morning.

He said cold air will rush into Connecticut Friday afternoon, icing up any areas of standing water.

Sisic said Bradley Airport is keeping a close eye on the forecast Friday so that runways and other surfaces can be pretreated before temperatures fall below freezing.

Amtrak, meanwhile, canceled service on more than 20 routes, primarily in the Midwest. Service between Chicago and Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit, and St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, was suspended through Christmas Day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jennifer Ahrens is a producer for Morning Edition. After spending 20+ years producing TV shows for CNN and ESPN, she decided to tackle a new medium because she values Public Broadcasting's mission. She wants to educate and entertain an audience and Connecticut Public lets her do that.
Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@ctpublic.org.