The dangerous Northeast blizzard predicted to cripple the country’s air travel has forced the cancellation of 8,000 flights since Sunday.
While the nor’easter Stella was downgraded as it hit New York City on Tuesday with snow totals falling short of initial estimates, mass cancellations and states of emergency stayed in effect.
Airlines cancelled more than 6,000 flights as of Tuesday morning – a figure that is likely to grow – given it promised to be the worst travel day for the late winter storm.
Airports in New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia were among the hardest hit, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.
Nearly all flights at New York City’s three airports were canceled on Tuesday, with similar issues at Boston and Baltimore. Most flights were cancelled before the day even began.
Other major airports in the Northeast, including Philadelphia, Washington Dulles and Washington Reagan National, also experienced major disruptions with about 50 percent of flights cancelled on Tuesday morning.
Authorities had been advising 50 million people to prepare for what could be the worst storm this winter season from New York City to Boston.
The region was expected to be hit with up to 24 inches of snow bringing along with it blizzard-like conditions and 60mph winds. Officials even declared a state of emergency in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland.
But forecasters significantly downgraded their predictions on Tuesday morning around 9am and instead predicted the Big Apple would receive 4 to 8 inches.
Airline officials had started preparing for the storm by cancelling flights ahead of time with more than 2,000 flights cancelled for Monday.
More than 900 flights have already been cancelled for Wednesday.
Amtrak also canceled and modified service up and down the Northeast Corridor. In New York City, the above-ground portions of the subway system were shut down on Tuesday morning.
Tuesday’s cancellations includes roughly hundreds of flights on Southwest Airlines, JetBlue and American Airlines.
More cancellations were expected, with Southwest planning to stop almost all of its Northeast flights Tuesday. Other airlines were considering similar moves.
Major US airlines will allow ticketed travelers affected by the storm to change their flights without an additional fee.
Officials are asking those with travel plans early this week to check with airlines ahead of time to see about possible cancellations or delays.
A state of emergency was issued in four states across the northeast as Winter Storm Stella is set to slam the area up until early Wednesday morning.
State of emergencies in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland have all taken effect as of midnight on Monday and 50 million residents are being urged to prepare for the ‘life-threatening’ storm.
The harsh winter weather has already claimed lives in Milwaukee after two elderly men on different sides of the city collapsed while shoveling snow on Monday.