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Thursday flight cancellations top 1,200 nationwide, disrupting holiday travel


More than 1,400 flights across the United States have been canceled as severe winter weather threatens vacation travel, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.

As of Thursday morning, 1,486 flights have been canceled nationwide. More than 700 US flights have already been canceled on Friday.

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport leads the way, followed by Denver International Airport and Chicago’s Midway International Airport. Cancellations at these airports could have wider implications as they are busy hubs where travelers frequently change planes to reach other destinations. Expect a busy day.

Weather forecasters are predicting a “bomb cyclone” and the National Weather Service says more than 100 million people are under winter and cold weather warnings. That’s about one-third of the US population.

Denver temperatures are forecast to plummet to -10 degrees Celsius by dawn Thursday. Chicago could be in a near-blizzard condition with snow beginning around noon Thursday and falling through Friday morning.

Maria Ihekwaba, who was traveling from Chicago to Clear Lake, Iowa with her granddaughter on Thursday morning, told CNN that she was trying to leave as soon as possible.

“You never know what can happen in Chicago, especially if you’re traveling from Chicago because it’s a windy city,” Ihekwaba said.

Kari Lucas, a traveler from San Diego, told CNN that she was visiting her sister and brother-in-law, but cut the trip short because she didn’t want to get caught up in the impending weather.

“I was worried because we don’t get blizzards in San Diego,” she said. “So I don’t like being stuck in airports for too long.”

“It seemed like the best choice right now,” she said.

Many airlines issue weather waivers and travelers should confirm that their flight is scheduled to take off before leaving for the airport. Experts warn on flyers to arrive early at the airport to avoid crowds.

– CNN’s Dave Hennen contributed to this report.