Chicago Storms Force 350 Cancellations as Delays Mount

Thunderstorms forced airlines to cancel more than 350 flights at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, the second busiest in the U.S., and began disrupting travel to and from New York.

More than 100 New York-area flights were scrubbed, mostly at LaGuardia Airport and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty, according to data tracker United Airlines and American Airlines cut flights at their O’Hare hub, while Southwest Airlines Co. scrapped trips at its Chicago Midway base.

“We anticipate the weather impacting the operation for a majority of the day” in Chicago, Michelle Agnew, a spokeswoman for Dallas-based Southwest, said in an e-mail.

Cancellations at hubs such as O’Hare, which trails only Atlanta in annual passenger totals, can ripple across the rest of the U.S. Severe thunderstorms may break out from Chicago to Boston today with high winds, hail and heavy rain, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

The scrubbed flights at O’Hare consisted of 163 departures and 195 inbound trips at 2:20 p.m. New York time, according to FlightAware. That was more than half the 636 cancellations in the U.S. today, FlightAware reported.

Flights headed to Chicago were delayed an average of one hour, according to Houston-based FlightAware.

Heavy rain across the Midwest has prompted flood warnings and advisories in parts of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Indiana, according to the National Weather Service.