Though sweaty pits and tank tops are the look in the northeast this Christmas, wildfires are still blazing in Ventura County, closing down Union Pacific rail lines. So, no matter how much praying is going on over the holidays, there’s never a season when travel goes without a hitch.
Though there are currently no significant airline delays, intense weather in the Deep South, Southwest, and Maine threaten to make this weekend a turbulent one.
On Wednesday, a tornado killed 15 people in Mississippi, and the National Weather Service is expecting severe thunderstorms, high winds, and possible tornadoes and flash flooding over the weekend in the same Jackson area.
It’s also reporting heavy snowfall in the Rockies, blizzards from eastern New Mexico through West Texas and flooding in East Texas to the Mississippi Valley. There will possibly be heavy snow from the High Plains to the Upper Midwest. Maine should also expect a snowy Sunday in central and northern Maine, a whopping 6 to 9 inches. The NWS unfortunately assures, “Travel conditions will be hazardous in many locations through Sunday.”
And the weather isn’t the only force to blame when it comes to timely air travel. This October, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association called for a congressional hearing about understaffing at air traffic control facilities. The group stated that this is the fifth year that the Official Federal Aviation Administration has not hired an adequate number of air traffic controllers. As of this August, “the FAA had only hired 1,178 of a planned 1,772 air traffic controllers, putting the agency 34 percent behind its goal,” and on top of that madness, “Of the 10,859 certified controllers, 30 percent are eligible to retire at any time.” Paired with this weekend’s tornados and blizzards, this could lead to many additional hours guzzling lagers at Chili’s Too waiting on your flight.
Despite these shortfalls, the National Weather Service reassures on Twitter that it’s working around the clock to keep us safe. But as Andre 3000 once sang, “You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather.”