Hundreds of Flights Grounded as Bowl Fans Try to Go Home

A winter storm spread snow, ice and sleet across the Northeast, dropping as much as 8 inches (20 centimeters) on parts of New York City and grounding flights as visiting Super Bowl fans sought to get home.

Light snow that began falling in New York before 5 a.m. reached 8 inches in Central Park as of 4 p.m., the National Weather Service reported. About 6.5 inches was on the ground at New York’s John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, while New Jersey’s Newark Liberty had 7.3.

“The snow is moving away from the area,” Joe Pollina, a meteorologist with the weather service in Upton, New York, said by telephone. “We do have more in the way of wintry weather later in the week that might actually be worse because there’s ice in the forecast, not just snow.”

As of 6:34 p.m. in New York, 1,980 flights within, into, or out of the U.S. were canceled and 4,709 delayed, according to FlightAware, a Houston-based airline tracking company. The three major airports in the New York City area, where the National Football League’s championship game was played yesterday, were reporting delays as long as two hours, the Federal Aviation Administration said on its website.

Fans Wait

“People from all over the country are here in different types of jerseys, yet we’re all in the same situation right now,” said Darin Smith, 52, a Seattle Seahawks fan from Redmond, Washington, who was waiting at LaGuardia International Airport. “Everyone is stuck and ready to go home.”

Smith said his flight, with a connection in Chicago, was to have departed at 11:45 a.m. It was rescheduled for 2:20 p.m. and then for 4 p.m.

“It messes everything up, but today I do it with a smile because I’m going home a champion with my team,” he said.

Fans who planned to get home by corporate jet were also finding slow-going. The Super Bowl has become the biggest annual event for business-jet travelers, according to Argus International Inc., a Cincinnati-based aviation research firm.

“In conditions like this, it’s challenging,” Jon Boyd, general manager for Carlyle Group LP’s Landmark Aviation facility at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York.

Corporate Jets

The airport has closed almost once an hour today to clear runways, he said. The snow also made it difficult to reach planes parked on a closed runway and forced pilots to clean off aircraft before departing.

“We have lots of refreshments and food, which is fortunate because we have lobbies full of people,” Boyd said.

Winter storm warnings and advisories stretched from Utah to Vermont. The storm was also expected to drop as much as 8 inches on Ohio. Two inches an hour of snow may fall in New Jersey, the weather service said.

A mixture of rain and snow was forecast for Washington, with little or no accumulation. Boston’s Logan International Airport got a half-inch of snow as the storm focused more on the corridor from Philadelphia to New York.

Skies over the Northeast will be clear late today and tomorrow, then a new storm may bring 4 inches of snow and sleet to New York City tomorrow night and the next day, the weather service said. The Boston area might see 6 inches.

“The roads have a good deal of snow on them, and they’re going to be slick with the forecast for ice,” Pollina said. “Take it slow. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to get.”

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