Holiday travels troubled by snow, wind and more

— -- Rain and snow conspired against the crush of holiday travelers heading home Sunday, delaying flights and slowing traffic across much of the USA. Those on the move today will face fewer obstacles.

"The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic will have an increasingly dry day," said Mark Ressler, lead meteorologist at The Weather Channel. "I don't think delays should be as horrible as they were" on Sunday.

On Sunday, passengers milled in airports from Los Angeles to Atlanta, delayed by ice, wind, low visibility and other weather challenges. Elsewhere, police raced to accidents on rain-slicked roads.

Flights in Philadelphia and Newark, N.J., were delayed nearly four hours, and fliers in Boston and the New York City area were waiting 2½ hours for their planes to take off, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Buzz Bernard, also a lead meteorologist at The Weather Channel, identified two major culprits: rain along the East Coast and snow in parts of the Midwest.

In Chicago, about 50 flights were canceled by mid-afternoon, said Karen Pride, spokeswoman for the Chicago Airport System, which includes Chicago O'Hare and Midway international airports. "We will be putting up cots and blankets for passengers if they choose to stay here at the airport," she said.

"This is the first widespread snow we've had" in northern Illinois and northwest Indiana, said Andrew Krein, meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Chicago office. The storm will continue into this afternoon, he said, dumping up to 5 inches of snow.

In central Virginia, state troopers responded to 21 vehicle accidents between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. on congested roads, said a Virginia State Police spokesman, Sgt. Tom Cunningham. The previous Sunday there were five accidents during the same period.

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, "they've been canceling flights right and left," said Alison Degan, 20, a sophomore at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Degan started her morning in New Orleans, where she had spent Thanksgiving with her family. Because her plane sat on the tarmac for 45 minutes before taking off she missed her Atlanta connection to Baltimore. Degan snagged a seat on another flight but not until 10 p.m.

"I'm a little frustrated," she said while waiting at the airport's USO center, which helps members of the military and their families.

By afternoon, USO volunteers had given out 250 hot dogs, said Mary Lou Austin, CEO of USO Georgia. "We've had a lot of delays," Austin said. "There are more people waiting, and when they wait, they're anxious."