NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Travelers flying into and out of New York’s major airports are doing their best to stay patient, with widespread delays being blamed on the pre-holiday travel crush and the stormy weather.
LaGuardia Airport has been reporting delays between 30 minutes to an hour. Delays have been running slightly shorter at Kennedy but have averaged nearly an hour and 20 minutes at Newark Liberty Airport.
“We are looking at the board and keeping an eye on it, our fingers crossed,” said traveler David Sara.
“It’s just time-consuming and it’s just important to come early so that you don’t have to deal with such a hassle,” another traveler told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria.
More than 43 million people are expected to travel over the long holiday weekend, including more than 3 million people who are expected to filter through airports, according to AAA.
“The timing of the storm couldn’t be worse,” said Chris Vaccaro, spokesman for the National Weather Service.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said traffic through the airports is roughly 30 percent above that of a typical Wednesday.
The agency’s interim aviation director, Thomas Bosco, said LaGuardia caught a break during the early part of the rush.
“The winds kind of died down, the rain kind of died down a little bit. But the forecasters are telling us that the wind and rain are supposed to pick up again,” Bosco told reporters including WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane.
At LaGuardia, delays were much more substantial earlier in the day, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
Many passengers were arriving well ahead of their scheduled departure times Wednesday anticipating flight delays and possible cancellations.
However, some travelers expressed relief as they arrived early, fearing the worst.
“There’s nobody here. We drove up and there’s no one here!” an excited Dale Montagna told Schneider.
Travel experts suggested airline passengers might be able to have penalty fees waived if they wanted to change their bookings because of the weather.
Delta, US Airways, United, JetBlue and American Airlines are among the many airlines waiving fees for those scheduled to fly to or from cities on the East Coast.
While many will be taking to the skies, the overwhelming majority of travelers, about 39 million people, will be on the roads.
“If there’s any saving grace with weather like this is that they’ll probably be sitting in traffic and going very slowly,” said AAA New York’s Robert Sinclair. “You won’t have to worry about sliding off the road at high speeds, but if you do get moving, then you need to be prepared.”
Transportation officials advised travelers to reduce speed on highways.
Some New York City roadways were jam packed this evening as many try to make their way to their Thanksgiving destination.
CBS 2’s Alice Gainer was on the West Side Highway Wednesday evening where she said traffic was slow but better than stop-and-go.
Gainer also made her way to the southbound side of FDR Drive where she reported traffic was better than expected. The northbound side, however, was jam-packed with drivers trying to leave the city.
Many motorists on the roads earlier Wednesday morning said the wind and rain made driving difficult.
“A lot of water, a little cautious,” one driver told 1010 WINS’ John Montone.
“Just the visibility is really low, it’s hard to see,” driver Kimberly Costanzo told CBS 2’s Don Champion “The splash back from the other cars gets to you.”
“When it rains like this and in the dark, it’s pretty bad,” a motorist told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.
“You feel the car shaking, moving a little bit,” another driver said. “But we’ve got to get to our family.”
Many people traveling hundreds of miles north for the long Thanksgiving weekend drove through the night to dodge the bad weather and the traffic, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported.
Along the Hutchinson River Parkway in White Plains Wednesday morning, drivers were contending with puddles on the shoulder and drifting tractor trailers catching the wind.
But overall, drivers said they were able to manage the tough conditions.
“The Jersey Turnpike was really bad. I hit traffic and I hit the wind and I hit the rain and everything,” one driver told Adams.
“Hydroplaning all the way down,” another holiday driver told Adams.
“It’s been raining all the way from Atlanta all the way up here. It hasn’t even stopped. I mean, just constant rain,” said another man.
For car-less urbanites, Amtrak is adding more trains for the holiday and a new breed of express intercity bus was drawing more passengers hoping to escape airport hassles without sacrificing comfort.
Heavy rain and winds began sweeping through the area Tuesday night, but forecasters, who called for two to four inches of rain in some spots, said the storm would start to loosen its grip as the day wore on.
Scattered power outages were also reported throughout New York and New Jersey Wednesday morning.
The large area of rain was expected to gradually move out into the Atlantic and the Canadian Maritimes. Wind was a concern, especially Wednesday morning.
The storm could also scuttle a major Big Apple Thanksgiving tradition — the big balloons at the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Wind regulations say the balloons don’t fly if sustained winds exceed 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph. Current forecasts call for sustained winds of 20 mph and gusts of 36 mph.
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