Nearly 5,000 flights were canceled worldwide over the Christmas weekend when holiday plans were halted 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 proliferation of the new variant as the cause of the disruption. At least 850 of the flights canceled on Saturday had been set to fly in, in or out of the United States.
Thousands of Americans hoping to return home for Christmas were likely stranded, while extreme weather in some parts of the country caused further complications.
Several major airlines, including United, Delta and Alaska, said they had been forced to cancel hundreds of flights on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day after the omicron variant infected employees and crew members.
This is because thousands of people across the United States were expected to quarantine this Christmas after testing positive for Covid-1[ads1]9, while many others canceled, delayed or changed their party plans due to increasing cases in the midst of the spread of the highly transferable variant. .
On Christmas Eve alone, more than 197,300 new Covid cases 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 its Covid data tracking on Friday and will not do so through Christmas and Christmas Day, until they resume on Monday, December 27.
Extreme Christmas weather also threatened travel difficulties, with winter storms in the western United States leading to rain, snow and potentially even a rare white Christmas for some.
On Thursday, floods in California killed two people after their vehicle sank in a flooded suburb in Millbrae, south of San Francisco. There was also an evacuation order issued in Orange County due to possible landslides and debris flows in three gorges, but they were lifted on Christmas Eve.
In a summary of forecasts for Christmas Day, the National Weather Service said parts of the west could expect “significant snowfall in the mountains, snow disrupting travel in the lowlands and rain over the holiday weekend.”
“Abnormally cold conditions and a torrential downpour of humidity in the Pacific Ocean result in prolonged periods of mountain snow and coastal / valley rain, some of which can fall heavily at times,” the weather service said, adding that “enough cold air is in place for even major cities. in the northwest to receive measurable snowfall. “
However, the heaviest snowfall was expected to come down in the northern and central Sierras, with 2 to 4 feet of snow expected.
“Travel will be treacherous, at times impossible, from the Sierras to the Central Rockies this weekend due to whiteout conditions and driving snow,” the National Weather Service warned.
The snow already caused major travel delays on Christmas Eve, with several spinouts that forced the closure of highways and freeways for hours, according to NBC-affiliated KCRA-TV.
The delays lasted so long that some families began to take seats out of the vehicles and make an impromptu tailgate, KCRA reported.
In Portland, Oregon, a winter storm warning was issued as residents waited to see if they would have a white Christmas this year.
According to the National Weather Service, the city’s metro area can receive as much as 2 to 5 inches of snow. Meanwhile, Seattle in neighboring Washington can also witness a rare few inches of snow, with the city during a winter weather forecast until Sunday afternoon.
As parts of the western United States experience storms, areas in the central and eastern United States are expected to see unusually warm temperatures, with record high temperatures also possible from the southern plains of the Mid-Atlantic.
“The warmest average temperatures for Christmas Day will range from the heart of Texas to the Middle Mississippi Valley, Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic where temperature departures appear to range between 25 and 35 degrees above normal,” the National Weather Service said.