By Meredith Carey. Photos: Getty.
We at Traveler learned a new word today: bombogenesis. In laymans terms, it means low-pressure systems that intensify rapidly, and drop at least 24 millibars (a measurement of atmospheric pressure) in 24 hours. It usually leads to a storm "bombing out," according to the Weather Channel, which means dramatic winds, blizzard conditions, intense snowfall, and even lightning. Why do you need to know? Because Winter Storm Stella, a major nor'easter that is expected to hit the Midwest and Northeast late Monday, might bomb out. And that means lots and lots of cancelled flights.
In fact, 1,100 flights have already been cancelled as of Monday morning and 2,559 flights have been proactively cancelled for Tuesday. On Monday, heavy snow and strong winds are expected to stretch from Washington, D.C. to Boston, but the storm will hit a much larger swatch of the U.S., too. Stella is expected to impact travel from eastern Wisconsin to the Atlantic, and rain and snow is forecasted to cause delays, road closures, school closures, and cancellations from North Carolina into Maine, covering a distance of more than 1,000 miles.
Between Monday and Tuesday night, Accuweather predicts New York City might get anywhere from 12 to 24 inches of snow.
"In some locations in Pennsylvania, New York state and New England, snowfall from this storm could be the biggest March snowstorm since that of the 1993 March blizzard," said AccuWeather meteorologist Elliot Abrams.
If forecasts are accurate, airports like New York's JFK, LaGuardia, Newark, and Boston's Logan airports could stop flights for much of Tuesday. The weather won't be warming up through the week so delays and cancellations could extend into early Wednesday. But, airlines are already waiving change fees, so passengers can get a jump start on revising their travel plans. Here's what you need to know:
- American Airlines is waiving change fees for flights to and from certain airports in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Maine, and more. Passengers can rebook their travel for Tuesday or Wednesday flights to March 16 or 17 for free. There is no extra fee as long as you book in the same cabin.
- Delta is rebooking travelers flying in and out of 30 airports across the Northeast. Passengers can change their plans and rebook their flights for March 16 or 17. A difference in fare may apply, but the change fee, which is usually $200, has been waived.
- Southwest Airlines does not charge change fees regularly but has advised passengers flying now through Wednesday of possible cancellations and delays. Travelers can rebook or travel standby within 14 days of their original dates at no extra fee.
- Travelers flying on Virgin America to or from JFK, Newark, LaGuardia, Boston, Dulles, and Reagan can rebook their flights between now and March 19 without paying change fees or the difference in fares (as long as they're booking for the same seat class).
- United has waived a change fee and any difference in fare for flights across the Northeast. New flights must be booked for travel on or before March 17.
- JetBlue is waiving fees for travelers across the Northeast for flights scheduled for Tuesday. Passengers may rebook their travel for departures between Monday and Thursday, March 16, or elect to receive a refund if their flight is cancelled. For travelers headed to or leaving Chicago, flights can be rebooked between now and Wednesday.
Other international airlines will also be affected (whether by strike or by the weather). Make sure to check the airline's travel alerts page.
Buckle up, everyone. Stellllllaaaaaaaaaaa may be the biggest winter storm of the year.
This story originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveler.
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