Nearly 5,000 flights were canceled across the world over Christmas weekend as travel plans for the holidays were cut short amid the rapidly spreading omicron variant of Covid-19.
Nearly 2,500 global flights were canceled on Christmas day alone, according to flight tracker FlightAware, with some airlines citing the spread of the new variant as the cause of the disruption. At least 850 of the flights canceled on Saturday were to be made within, to or from the United States.
Thousands of Americans who hoped to return home for Christmas likely found themselves stranded, while in parts of the country extreme weather conditions caused further complications.
Several major airlines, including United, Delta and Alaska, have said they have had to cancel hundreds Christmas Eve and Christmas Day flights after the omicron variant infected employees and crew members.
It comes as thousands of people across the United States were due to be quarantined this Christmas after testing positive for Covid-19, while many more have canceled, delayed or changed their party plans due to the ‘increased cases amid the spread of the highly transmissible variant.
On Christmas Eve alone, more than 197,300 new cases of Covid were reported, according to a tracker maintained by the New York Times, which noted that many states did not report data for the day.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not update their Covid data tracker on Friday and will not do so until Christmas and Boxing Day, before resuming on Monday, December 27.
Extreme Christmas weather conditions also threatened travel difficulties, with winter storms in the western United States bringing rain, snow and potentially even a rare white Christmas for some.
Flooding in California killed two on Thursday after their vehicle was submerged in a flooded underpass in Millbrae, south of San Francisco. Evacuation orders were also issued in Orange County due to possible mudslides and debris flows in three canyons, but they were lifted on Christmas Eve.
In a summary of the Christmas Day forecast, the National Weather Service said parts of the west could expect “heavy mountain snowfall, lowland snow disrupting travel and snowfall. rain during the holiday weekend “.
“Abnormally cold conditions and a barrage of Pacific moisture result in prolonged spells of mountain snow and coastal / valley rain, some of which can occasionally fall heavily,” the Weather Service said, adding that “enough cold air is in place even for metropolitan northwestern regions to receive measurable snowfall. ”
However, the heaviest snowfall was expected to fall in the northern and central Sierras, with 2-4 feet of snow expected.
“Travel will be dangerous, if not impossible at times, from the Sierras to the Central Rockies this weekend due to whiteout and blowing snow conditions,” the National Weather Service warned.
Snow has already caused significant travel delays on Christmas Eve, with multiple fallout forcing highways and highways to close for hours, according to NBC affiliate KCRA-TV.
The delays lasted so long that some families began to pull chairs out of their vehicles and create an improvised tailgate, KCRA reported.
In Portland, Oregon, a winter storm warning was issued as residents waited to see if they would get a White Christmas this year.
According to the National Weather Service, the city’s metropolitan area could receive up to 2 to 5 inches of snow. Meanwhile, Seattle, in neighboring Washington state, could also witness a few inches of snowfall as the city is subject to a winter weather advisory until Sunday afternoon.
While parts of the western United States experience storms, parts of the central and eastern United States are expected to experience unusually warm temperatures, with records that could also be reached in the southern plains through to mid-Atlantic.
The warmest average temperatures for Christmas Day will stretch from the heart of Texas to the central Mississippi Valley, the Ohio Valley and the mid-Atlantic, where the temperature differences appear to be between 25 and 35 degrees above normal, ”the National Weather Service said.