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Wintry Weather Means Slow-Going For Many Holiday Travelers

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Wintry Weather Means Slow-Going For Many Holiday Travelers

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Wintry Weather Means Slow-Going For Many Holiday Travelers

Wintry Weather Means Slow-Going For Many Holiday Travelers

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A nor'easter is likely to make a mess of roads in the Northeast on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The weather is not cooperating on this busy travel day. More than a thousand flights have been canceled - many of them in the Northeast, where a major storm has dropped snow, sleet and rain from North Carolina to New England. NPR's Joel Rose reports on the slow going for millions of travelers.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: A nasty mix of rain and sleet is falling on the far west side of Manhattan, where a half-dozen buses are loading passengers.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: 11:30 - up against the wall. 12 o'clock's coming down.

ROSE: Hundreds of travelers are lined up on the sidewalk trying to stay warm.

BONNIE HUDDA: I have layers on me, but it doesn't help.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I know.

HUDDA: My feet - my feet are getting all wet.

ROSE: Bonnie Hudda (ph) of West Chester is trying to get to Baltimore, where the rest of her family is waiting.

HUDDA: My grandson is worth it, but - oh, today's his birthday, so I have to be there - his first birthday. (Laughter).

ROSE: Standing a few spots back in a line is Brianne Revely (ph) of Harlem.

Would you have booked this ticket if you knew it was going to be like this today?

BRIANNE REVELY: I would've took the train if I realized it was going to snow because I wouldn't, you know, be out here in the cold. And it's raining, and I had to buy an umbrella.

ROSE: These riders are hoping to get out of town before the sleet turns to snow and starts to pile up. That's likely to affect travel up and down Interstate 95, one of the nation's busiest highways. And airports in the region are not much better. More than a thousand flights were canceled today - the bulk of them in the Northeast - and thousands of planes were delayed.

ERIK HANSEN: When you start to have problems with JFK, Newark, Philadelphia, Washington, those delays and cancellations really spread out across the country.

ROSE: Erik Hansen is with the U.S. Travel Association, an industry trade group. He says, a lot of airports and flights are jam-packed, which means problems in one region can quickly become problems everywhere. Consider a flight that's 15 minutes late leaving New York for Chicago.

HANSEN: And the next flight that is going to happen on that aircraft is going to be even later, as well. So you have this stacking effect, similar to traffic on the highway. And that's really where the system starts to slow down.

ROSE: Shana Burns (ph) is experiencing that slowdown firsthand.

SHANA BURNS: I am sitting at my gate hoping that we can start boarding soon, but expecting probably another delay because it's still snowing back home.

ROSE: Burns is a freshman at Texas A and M University. She's trying to fly from Dallas, where the weather today was 65 and sunny, to Minneapolis-St. Paul, where it never got above 30 degrees.

BURNS: Well, we have a bunch of people just camping out, a couple people laying on the floor. You know, everyone has their movies out or bringing their food in, trying to pass the time, hoping that the plane gets around eventually.

ROSE: Burns is no stranger to the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. She spent 34 hours there last year when an ice storm grounded her flight back to Minnesota. That's a record she is hoping not to break this year. Joel Rose, NPR News, New York.

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