NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Low visibility in the Tri-State Area made for major delays at all three area airports late Wednesday, and some passengers were fit to be tied.
Late Wednesday afternoon, traffic management program was instituted due to the poor visibility, leading to delays of 2 hours and 35 minutes at LaGuardia Airport. Delays were even more severe at Newark Liberty International Airport, where outbound flights were departing an average of 3 hours and 28 minutes late.
At John F. Kennedy International Airport, departing flights were delayed an average of an hour and nine minutes.
Lengthy delays — and cancellations that left many stranded — persisted well into the night Wednesday.
As CBS2’s Brian Webb reported, the arrival and departure boards at LaGuardia spelled out the bad news for many travelers. These days, the late arrivals are not marked as delays; the times are just unapologetically adjusted.
“When we first got here, they didn’t tell us that they were being delayed, so we were pretty aggravated, but we got coffee, and now we’re just hanging out until he comes,” said Morgan Fraser, who was picking up her brother.
The news got worse throughout the day at the airports. By midday, the average departure was delayed an hour. Arrivals were closer to an hour and a half.
“It’s OK,” said Roderick Garr. “I mean, it’s kind of slow, but I mean, you feel it’s going to be that way. It’s Christmastime.”
Hany Mostafa’s flight to Atlanta was called off. He had been planning to head from Atlanta on to Jamaica in the Caribbean to catch a holiday cruise with his family.
“I’m trying to go to Atlanta, but the flight is canceled and there is no other flights in any neighbor airports, — so you have nothing out of JFK, Newark Airport, even Philadelphia — so no flights,” he said. “I’m going to sleep over here I guess.”
Dennis Hall had been trying to fly to Cleveland. He had just gotten off a cruise ship after spending 10 days in the Caribbean.
“It’s a nightmare,” he said. “I’m sure the weather had a lot to do with it.”
Sam Rappaport saw his flight to Montreal canceled.
“The website says one thing — somebody just came by and said it was cancelled, then I called and it said it wasn’t canceled, so — corporate America,” Rappaport said.
And Karen Lewis told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell she was trying to get home to Fort Lauderdale. She was looking for options.
“You know, I am actually pretty calm right now. I am trying to keep my cool,” she said. “Trying to figure out what to do next; obviously not a great feeling.”
But some air travelers were told they would not be able to get onto a flight before Christmas at all.
“We’re trying to fly in for Christmas where I’m from – to Michigan – and they canceled the flight on us, so now they’re saying there’s no flights until after Christmas – not even one anywhere in this area versus that area,” one woman said.
“After Christmas,” the woman’s husband added, before addressing others in the ticket line while his wife and daughter laughed. “All of you in line, you’re wasting your time. American Airlines stinks.”
Shaye Lefkowitz of Brooklyn was also stuck at LaGuardia late into the night. She and her husband had been planning to take a flight to Dayton, Ohio that was canceled.
“I just want my money back at this point, because we paid like $1,500 dollars for a flight to Dayton, Ohio and got rebooked three times,” Lefkowitz said.
Like many others, Lefkowitz and her husband found out they likely will not make it to their destination at all in time for Christmas.
“My grandma, my aunts and uncles – yeah, it sucks,” she said.
Another man trying to get to Atlanta said he was going to carpool with another passenger for 13 1/2 hours, so he could get to Georgia for Christmas with his girlfriend.
Adding to the inconvenience overload was security that was even tighter courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration. Fewer passengers were able to opt out of body scanners – the ones critics call “virtual strip search machines.”
“I do enough traveling that I’m like, you know, really, there’s not much to see,” said Karlee Moore.
The delays came as a record number of travelers were taking to the skies – as well as hitting the roads — for what was expected to be one of the busiest travel days of the holiday season Wednesday.
For the first time, AAA predicts the number of people making a journey of 50 miles or more between Christmas and New Year’s will top 100 million, marking the seventh consecutive year of growth.
Six million people were expected to fly around the country Wednesday, and as the fog and rain persisted late into the night, travelers grew more fed up.
“We’ve been really patient up until like an hour ago, and then I lost it,” Lefkowitz said.
Meanwhile, as CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, it was not just air traffic that was affected. Throughout the evening, Tri-State Area roadways were jam-packed with drivers trying to get away for the holidays.
Major delays and bumper-to-bumper traffic were also reported on expressways all around the area.
Drivers faced not only heavy traffic, but flooded-out and dangerous roadways after it rained all day. The Whitestone Expressway in Queens was flooded late Wednesday, as seen in cellphone video.
Flooding was also seen on local streets in some communities, including Hoboken.
A dense fog advisory was in effect until 10 a.m. Thursday for the Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean on the South Shore of Long Island – also affecting Moriches Inlet, Montauk Point, Fire Island, and Sandy Hook, New Jersey.
Under a dense fog advisory, visibilities will frequently be reduced to less than one mile. A small craft advisory was also issued due to sustained wind speeds or frequent gusts of 25 to 33 knots on the water, and sea levels of 5 feet or higher.
Rough conditions were expected on the ocean through Thursday night, and inexperienced mariners should avoid going out on the water, the National Weather Service warned.
Visibility was down to 1.7 miles in the city, and 1.5 miles in Bronxville and Mount Kisco as of 5 p.m., CBS2’s Elise Finch reported.
CBS2 Weather reported periods of rain will continue through the afternoon and into the night. Finch reported rainfall totaled 1.67 inches in Central Park, 1.14 inches in Trenton, New Jersey, 1.32 inches in Islip, and 2.34 inches in Bridgeport, Connecticut late Monday.
A 30 percent chance of showers remains on Christmas Eve, but the main story will be record-shattering warmth. The low 70s are expected in Central Park.
Into Christmas Day, temperatures will cool down a little bit and some more sun will be seen, but there could be a little rain into the evening.