Snow Hits Northeast, Cancels Flights

Carmalinda Mann catches snowflakes as she poses for pictures by Alex Santos as snow falls around the "LOVE" sculpture in Philadelphia on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2007.
Carmalinda Mann catches snowflakes as she poses for pictures by Alex Santos as snow falls around the "LOVE" sculpture in Philadelphia on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2007.

The storm that pounded the Midwest brought snow and sleet across the Northeast on Monday, closing schools, turning highways sloppy and slowing air travelers.

At least 68 flights were canceled by JetBlue, whose flight schedule and reputation were severely battered by more than 1,000 canceled flights in the wake of the Valentine's Day storm two weeks ago.

"It was so bad," said 22-year-old Duke University student Segun Akande, whose flight from New York to Raleigh, N.C., was canceled after being delayed on a taxiway for hours Sunday. "We were waiting on the plane for so long. You would think they would tell us to go back to the terminal after an hour or two."

With memories still fresh of the ice storm that stopped flights across the region and stranded dozens of travelers on one Pennsylvania highway two weeks ago, the state's roads were salted and plowed early Monday, a state spokesman Ron Young said.

Officials across much of the region were relieved Monday to see snow instead ice. Accumulations included up to 4 inches in the New York City area and Connecticut, a fraction of the 2 feet that fell in southeastern Minnesota.

"It's not supposed to get really cold - not like that last storm we had, where everything turned to a big hunk of ice," said David Buck, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Schools were closed in parts of New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, and openings were delayed in Maryland.

JetBlue canceled flights into and out of Chicago and the Washington area over the weekend, plus 68 more flights on Monday at New York's Kennedy Airport. Monday's cancellations affected flights to or from Columbus, Ohio; Richmond, Va.; Washington; Portland, Maine; and Chicago.

During the Valentine's Day storm, JetBlue was heavily criticized because passengers were stranded on planes at Kennedy Airport for up to 10 1/2 hours. That storm affected more than 100,000 passengers and led to the airline's bill of rights for passengers.

The latest cancellations were to make sure crews and planes were in the right places so the company can quickly resume operations after the storm, spokeswoman Alison Eshelman said Sunday.

Aside from JetBlue's problems and slushy, icy roads, the rush hour was relatively smooth. Amtrak reported no delays and commuter rail services in Maryland, Virginia and the New York City area operated on their normal schedules.

The Baltimore-Washington area's three major airports were open and runways were clear, but some airline schedules were disrupted. Airlines canceled about 100 flights at the Newark airport, said Marc La Vorgna, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The Midwest took the brunt of the storm, receiving up to 2 feet of snow. Winter storm warnings remained in effect Monday for northern sections of Wisconsin and Michigan, and the National Weather Service said an additional foot of snow was possible in northern Michigan.

Nine traffic deaths were blamed on the huge storm system: eight in Wisconsin and one in Kansas. Major highways in parts of Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska were blocked for much of the weekend, and tornadoes destroyed homes in the South.

Heavy ice brought down miles of power lines and utility poles, mostly in Iowa, blacking out hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.

Iowa still had problems Monday, with many schools closed because of blackouts and roads still being cleared of snow. One of the state's major utilities, Alliant Energy, reported 75,000 customers still without power Monday morning, down from 120,000 Saturday night.

Airlines canceled hundreds of flights Sunday at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and dozens more at Midway Airport, said Wendy Abrams, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation. That was on top of cancellations Saturday. Abrams estimated that about 1,000 stranded passengers spent Saturday night at O'Hare.

Associated Press

Associated Press writers Brian Witte in Baltimore and Brett Zongker in Washington contributed to this report.