More than 1,700 flights have been cancelled across the United States, according to the flight tracking site FlightAware, as severe winter weather threatens holiday travel.
As of Thursday morning, 1,759 flights have been cancelled nationwide. More than 800 US flights have already been canceled for Friday.
Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport leads the way, followed by Denver International and Chicago’s Midway International. Cancellations at those airports could have a wider impact, since they are busy hubs where travelers often change planes in order to reach other destinations. Thursday is expected to be the busiest pre-Christmas day for travel.
Weather forecasters are predicting a “bomb cyclone,” and the National Weather Service says more than 100 million people are under winter alerts and wind chill alerts — that’s roughly one-third of the US population.
Temperatures in Denver are predicted to plummet to 10 degrees below zero by daybreak Thursday. Chicago could see near blizzard conditions with snow beginning midday Thursday and continuing into Friday morning.
Maria Ihekwaba, who was traveling from Chicago to Clear Lake, Iowa with her granddaughter on Thursday morning, told CNN she was trying to depart as soon as possible.
“Especially when you’re traveling from Chicago, you never know what could happen in Chicago because it’s the windy city,” Ihekwaba said.
Traveler Kari Lucas, from San Diego, told CNN she was visiting her sister and brother-in-law, but cut the trip short as she didn’t want to get caught in the impending weather.
“I was worried because San Diego, we don’t get these snowstorms,” she said. “So I don’t like it to be trapped in the airport for long periods of time.”
“It seemed like the best choice to make right now,” she said.
Many airlines have issued weather waivers, and travelers should check that their flights are still scheduled for takeoff before departing for the airport. Experts are warning flyers to arrive early at the airport in order to beat the crowds.
– CNN’s Dave Hennen contributed to this report.