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Eastern storm leaves LAX travelers stranded

December 27, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
An East Coast blizzard is freezing up air travel across the U.S. as thousands of travelers try to return home from holiday trips.

New York's LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy Airport both reopened around 7 p.m. Eastern Time Monday. Newark Liberty was expected to start receiving inbound flights early Tuesday.

More than 1,400 flights were canceled out of the New York City area's three major airports alone Monday. In total, more than 5,000 flights have been canceled.

By afternoon, major U.S. airlines had announced more than 3,100 canceled flights for Monday. Continental, whose hub in Newark, N.J., was shut down by the storm, scrubbed 800 flights and Delta dropped 700.

Stranded travelers have resorted to sleeping on the cold, hard airport floors in hopes of catching a flight out. However, at Los Angeles International Airport, many could be stranded until as late as Tuesday.

The storm has virtually frozen air travel in the East, shutting airports including La Guardia, JFK and Newark Liberty airports.

Also, airports in Boston are littered with travelers camping out and stranded with no place to go.

As much as a foot of snow has fallen in certain areas. In some places, snow was expected to fall 2 to 4 inches an hour on Monday. A total of 12 to 16 inches was expected across nearly all of Rhode Island, Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts.

Almost 30 inches of snow fell in Bergen County, N.J., by Monday morning, and 20 inches was reported in New York City's Central Park early Monday.

A state of emergency has been declared from Delaware to the northern tip of Maine because of the severe weather and many are waiting and hoping to get home after the holidays.

"We thought we made it. We thought we were going to make the last plane out, but it turned sour, but you just got to deal with it. It's better to be safe than sorry," said one stranded passenger.

Along with the heavy snow, strong winds are also causing problems. Airlines are saying that they're not able to de-ice their airplanes because of those strong winds gusting up to 50 to 60 miles per hour.

The monster storm is the result of a low pressure system off the North Carolina coast and strengthened as it moved northeast, the National Weather Service said. Because of it, parts of the South had their first white Christmas since records have been kept.

If you're heading to the airport, you're advised to call ahead to make sure you are not stranded - flight boards and even airline websites are reportedly not updating consistently.

Delta, American, Alaska and Jet Blue are among the airlines with flights from Los Angeles International Airport that were delayed or canceled Sunday night due to inclement weather and airport closures in the Northeast.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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