Record cold forces cancellation of over 30 flights from Phoenix
PHOENIX – Nearly two dozen flights Tuesday at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport were canceled and more were grounded for Wednesday as the Midwest braced for subzero temperatures.
American and Southwest airlines called off 22 flights to a part of the country where record-breaking lows were settling, from North Dakota to Missouri and into Ohio, after a powerful snowstorm pounded the region overnight.
At least 12 more flights were shut down from Sky Harbor for Wednesday.
“They said no overnight flights, so you’ve got to get out today, otherwise you’re not going anywhere,” Terrance Tidbaugh of Chicago said, standing in the early-morning quiet of Phoenix’s Terminal Four.
Forecasters were describing the impending subzero weather as potentially life-threatening.
Temperatures will be as many as 20 degrees below average in parts of the Upper Great Lakes region and Upper Mississippi Valley, according to the National Weather Service.
Many flights were also delayed but airports across the country remained open.
Subzero temperatures will begin Tuesday but Wednesday was expected to be the worst.
If Tidbaugh makes it home, he’ll have to endure a cold that has forced the closure of the Brookfield Zoo on Wednesday and Thursday for the safety of animals and workers alike. It’s only the fourth time the zoo has closed in its 85 years.
The high temperature forecast at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Wednesday was negative 14 degrees, which would break a record set on Jan. 18, 1994.
Tidbaugh hadn’t decided what to do if his flight home was cancelled.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” he said.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross and the Associated Press contributed to this report.