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Hundreds of flights axed as winter storm hits East

12:56 PM, Jan 28, 2013   |    comments
A man walks in view of the snow- and ice0 covered Lake Michigan with the skyline of Chicago looming in the background on Jan. 24, 2013. (Photo: Nam Y. Huh, AP)
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Flight schedules are taking a hit today as a winter storm moves from the Midwest into the Northeast.

Fliers won't suffer disruptions as severe as the ones from Christmastime storms that brought flights to a halt at several major airports. But, passengers scheduled to fly today (Jan. 28) should brace for problems in the Midwest and East Coast.

Flight-tracking service FlightAware says more than 540 U.S. flights have been canceled so far today, with the majority of those coming at airports experiencing poor weather from today's storm.

And, as has become the norm during poor weather, nearly every major airline is waiving change fees for fliers schedule to fly into the storm's path. The policies come with significant fine print, but - generally - they allow customers to make one change to their itineraries without having to pay change fees or any differences in fares.

Cancellations
The hardest hit as of noon ET this morning are two of the New York City-area airports. At Newark Liberty, 155 combined departures and arrivals have been canceled at Newark Liberty while the total is 94 at New York LaGuardia.

At Toronto's Pearson International, where snow and ice fell this morning, 104 flights had been canceled by noon, according to FlightAware.

Other airports seeing notable cancellation totals as of noon ET: Philadelphia (78), Chicago O'Hare (50), Minneapolis/St. Paul (32), Detroit (30) and Washington Reagan National (29).

Fortunately for passengers, the rate of cancellations has slowed since this morning.

Delays
Fliers whose flights aren't canceled could be hit with delays. FlightStats, another flight-tracking service, shows "significant" and "excessive" delays at more than a half-dozen airports (as of noon ET) in the Midwest, Northeast, mid-Atlantic and eastern Canada.

Flights bound for Philadelphia, Newark and Washington National are being delayed by an average of anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, according to the Federal Aviation Administration's delay map. And, of course, late arriving planes mean delays are likely for many departures as well.

Delays and continued cancellations remain a significant risk for much of the day - especially at the delay-prone airports of Newark Liberty, New York LaGuardia and Philadelphia.

To the north, freezing rain and drizzle are expected to develop after 5 p.m. ET in Boston and other parts of New England. Depending on the severity of the icing, that could mean problems for flights at Boston Logan and other airports in the region if the forecasts are accurate.

Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY

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