PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Heavy rain and strong winds complicated holiday travel plans Wednesday for commuters at Philadelphia International Airport and along the major roadways in the region.
The day before Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the year’s busiest travel days and it was crowded as expected at the airport. A storm that had the worst possible timing only managed to to slow things down more.
Airports up and down the East Coast were dealing with visibility issues and winds Wednesday morning.
Philadelphia International Airport was experiencing arrival delays of up to two hours and some departing flights were delayed anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.
Those delays were expected to last throughout the afternoon.
“Travelers and those coming to the airport to pick up arriving guests should allow plenty of time to get to the airport,” said Victoria Lupica, spokesperson for the Philadelphia International Airport.
Lupica strongly recommended that travelers check with their airline on flight status or call the toll-free flight information line at 1-800-PHL-GATE for up to the minute schedule status.
Lupica added that the airport has TSA pre-check lanes at Terminals A-East, B, C and D/E for frequent travelers who are enrolled in the program, which allows expedited screening benefits.
For those taking to the roads, flooding was a big problem and the heavy rain was being blamed for several serious accidents along major roadways, including one fatal crash on the westbound Schuylkill Expressway (read related story).
AAA Mid-Atlantic was urging drivers to be smart when getting into their cars and heading to their holiday destinations.
“What you really need to do is plan ahead, pack your patience on this trip, allow extra time for getting to the airport, if that’s how you’re going,” said spokesman Jim Lardear. “If you’re going to take to the roads, know that there is going to be a lot of danger out there with ponding and flood waters and the high winds.”
Lardear said motorists should consider leaving much later in the day, or even wait until Thursday morning to avoid all of the dangers on the road.
While motorists and air travelers wrestled with delays, those heading to Thanksgiving destinations by train were finding things to be smooth sailing.
At 30th Street Station, trains were departing on time and Amtrak was optimistic that trend would continue throughout the day.
“One of the real nice things about the railroad is that to a certain extent we’re somewhat immune from some of the weather conditions that can make travel on other modes a bit of a hassle,” said spokesman Craig Shultz. “So we don’t really expect all that much of a dramatic impact on the railroad as it pertains to the weather.”
Nevertheless, Schultz said Amtrak was prepared for potential trouble. Emergency equipment was available, along with diesel engines and tree cutting crews to handle any power outages.
Amtrak was expecting a record number of passengers to ride the rails on Wednesday.