U.S. Air Traffic Delays Mount as Storm Aims for New York

Wednesday, 30 Jan 2013 02:17 PM

Air traffic in Atlanta, Chicago and New York has been delayed and three tornadoes were reported in Georgia as a wave of wild weather moving through the Eastern U.S. sends temperatures to near record levels.

The high temperature in New York City may reach 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 Celsius), shy of the record 64 for the day set in 2006, before a cold front brings heavy rain, strong wind and colder air, said David Stark, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Upton, N.Y.

“Tonight, with that cold front, we are going to see the potential for some strong, gusty winds,” Stark said. “Also, there is the potential for some small-stream and urban-type flooding, particularly across New York City and the lower Hudson Valley.”

High wind and flood warnings and advisories stretch from West Virginia to Maine, while a tornado watch has been posted from Alabama to Virginia as the front advances across the nation.

Air traffic at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has been delayed more than 30 minutes because of thunderstorms, while poor visibility has led to waits of more than an hour in New York, Newark,  Philadelphia and Chicago, according to the Federal Aviation Administration website.

LaGuardia Airport in New York reported delays of 2 hours and 18 minutes, according to the FAA.

As of 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, 400 U.S. flights had been canceled, with the majority of those occurring at Philadelphia, LaGuardia and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, according to FlightAware, a Houston-based flight data tracking company.

Wind gusts in New York may reach 55 miles (88 kilometers) per hour and an inch of rain may fall, according to the weather service. Gusts may reach 49 mph in Boston and 46 mph in Philadelphia.

Washington, D.C. is expected to have sustained winds of as much as 28 mph later today.

A daily record high of 63 degrees was set in Chicago yesterday, breaking the old mark posted in 1914, according to the weather service. The forecast high in Chicago today is 38 and the low is expected to fall to 16.

New York and the rest of the East Coast are about to experience that shift in temperatures as well, Stark said. By Thursday, the high in New York will be in the 40s with a low of 28. The normal high in New York is about 39, he said.

“We’re about 20 degrees above that for highs,” Stark said. “Right now, our forecast doesn’t show any records, which is 64, but we could see it come very close to that.”

Boston will have a high of 57 today before falling to a low of 16 in two days, according to the weather service. Today’s high in Philadelphia will be 61 and tomorrow’s low will be 28, and in Washington the high may reach 72 today before falling to a low of 31 on Thursday.

The worst of today’s weather may occur from West Virginia to Mississippi, where a tornado watch -- meaning the destructive storms could spawn at any time -- has been posted.

Three tornadoes have been reported in Georgia, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. There have been reports of cars overturned and buildings severely damaged in Adairsville, Ga., according to the center.

There have also been reports of wind damage, including downed power lines and trees, from Alabama to Pennsylvania.

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