Holiday travel weather forecast: As winter storm bears down, some scramble to change plans

Chicago weather forecast shows significant amount of snow possible

Tuesday, December 20, 2022
As winter storm bears down, travelers scramble to change plans
The Chicago weather forecast is showing a significant amount of snow this week, and those using air travel are scrambling to change their plans.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The coming storm is expected to create dangerous conditions on the roads, and havoc for airline travelers.

Many were already adjusting their flight plans Tuesday ahead of the holidays.

That storm is expected to bear down on Chicago right before Christmas.

SEE MORE: What can I do if my flight is canceled, delayed? How to prepare for likely 2022 holiday travel mess

So those who are choosing to fly are hoping they don't get stranded or stuck.

"I am so much relieved. I don't miss a Christmas. I can be home before the storm hits," said Dureti Gelgelu, who was heading to Oregon.

Some travelers landing at O'Hare Monday were happy to make it home before the storm.

Others visiting said they wasted no time re-booking their flights.

See storm timing, totals: Significant winter storm could bring more than a foot of snow by Christmas

Kelly Derr is in the area on a work trip, and was originally supposed to fly back home to Tennessee Thursday afternoon.

She re-booked her return flight before she even got off the plane.

"I don't want to be stranded here in Chicago when I've got six people coming into my house for the holidays," she said.

The Kotso family from the Rockford area planned a last minute trip to Mexico.

"It could be worse, right? We could be stranded down there or stranded here. I think I'd rather be down somewhere warm." Steven Kotso said.

Airlines and transit agencies are already warning people traveling by air, rail or road to be ready for the arrival of treacherous winter conditions.

RELATED: Airlines issue travel waivers ahead of massive 'bomb cyclone' of wintry weather

Most airlines currently have weather waivers in place.

That means you can change your flights for free, if you have flexible travel plans.

So far, there have not been any major cancellations.

The airlines predict the busiest travel day at O'Hare will be Thursday, as crowds return to pre-pandemic numbers.

The Chicago Department of Aviation said it's prepared for the storm.

"We have 500 staff members who are ready to work 24/7 and 350 pieces of snow removing equipment, lots of salt and lots of de-icer for the roadways," said Karen Pride, with the Chicago Department of Aviation.

Some travelers even asked Santa to use his magic to keep the planes on schedule Tuesday.

Ariana Rafaty is flying to Aruba with lots of family. They're feeling fortunate to miss all the snow.

"We kind of scheduled this in advance. We lucked out since we're not gonna be here while it's really bad, but I'm really grateful that were able to go somewhere," she said.

Travelers are urged to check with their airlines during the week to make sure their flights are not canceled.

As holiday travelers buzzed throughout the airport, there was a large emergency response at O'Hare's Terminal 1 about 6:30 a.m., as Chicago fire crews arrived to assist the Federal Aviation Administration in investigating a report of a suspicious package, CFD said.

Emergency crews responded to a suspicious package at O'Hare Tuesday morning.

Authorities cordoned off sections of Terminal 1 temporarily, but caution tape was removed by about 7 a.m.

"I saw a bunch of emergency lights, and I was like 'oh great we're gonna be late' but we're not late," traveler Jeff Andersen said.

CPD said officers responded to a threat, but the scene has been secured.

The Chicago Fire Department responded to O'Hare Airport after a report of a suspicious package.

Travelers are allowed to move throughout the terminal again.

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