Sandy Grounds More Than 10,000 Flights, Train Traffic Derailed

Airport and train traffic sits at a standstill as the storm approaches.

ByABC News
October 29, 2012, 6:41 AM

Oct. 29, 2012— -- Traffic in and out of airports and train stations from North Carolina to Boston have virtually shut down today, and may not be back in service until later this week.

At least 13,785 flights have been cancelled as a result of Hurricane Sandy, according to FlightAware, effectively shutting down commercial air traffic along the East Coast.

These cancellations are creating a ripple effect that is being felt across the entire country, forcing delays as far west as Seattle and San Francisco. Sandy is even grounding planes in Europe where flights to the U.S. are being canceled because their destination airports are shut down.

Plans to travel via train have been derailed, as Amtrak has shut down all East Coast service. On a typical day, over 300 trains would be running.

"You prepare, you prepare, you prepare, and then they can change," Kelly Bab, a traveler in Philadelphia, told ABC News.

Hurricane Sandy: Live Storm Tracker

Some air traffic control towers are already closed. They are New Haven Brainard and Groton-New London in Connecticut; Northeast Philadelphia in Pennsylvania; Atlantic City in New Jersey and Wilmington in Delaware.

"The FAA's top operational priority is to quickly re-establish air traffic service to support disaster relief efforts," the FAA told ABC News today.

"Following the storm, the FAA will conduct a damage assessment of air traffic facilities and navigational aids and set priorities to quickly repair or re-establish any damaged critical navigational aids or facilities," it said.

On a normal Monday there are approximately 10,000 airline flights in the states on the eastern seaboard from North Carolina to Massachusetts. Today has tracked 700 so far, and expects no more than 3,000.

The eye of Sandy is forecast to make landfall late Monday night in Atlantic City, N.J., bringing with it life-threatening storm surges and intense winds and rain, all of which will cripple transportation.

The passengers who have become stranded as the storm slowly makes its way north are for the most part taking the delays in stride.

"It's not the airlines' fault, you can't really control the weather," one passenger in San Francisco said. "Just go with the flow."

On Sunday, Jet Blue and United Airlines moved their planes out of the strike zone, where they will remain until Tuesday. But at low-lying airports like New York's LaGuardia and Kennedy International Airport, which are located next to water, there is also concern about the storm's surge.

"The thing we're going to be watching very, very closely is the flooding and the flood potential here in New York," Jet Blue COO Rob Maruster said. "With these airports basically at sea level, that poses a major risk to us."

Maruster said that the delays at the airport are likely to last through later of this week.

"It'll take us a couple days, probably until at least Thursday, if not Friday, to get back to normal with something this large," he said.

For now, travelers are just going to have to wait.