- Nearly 1,100 Atlanta flights canceled ahead of winter storm for Wednesday
- Charlotte, North Carolina, and Dallas also posting winter weather cancellations
- Many Atlantans stayed home after the city's recent winter weather traffic nightmare
Just stay home. That's the message from officials in the path of the South's latest nasty winter weather.
In Atlanta, where less than 3 inches of snow recently brought the city to a grinding, gridlocked halt, drivers and officials seemed to have learned some lessons. Roadways were uncongested and schools closed across the metro area Tuesday morning, hours ahead of most of the expected inclement weather.
Much of the city heeded the advice of local officials who advised drivers to avoid the roads from Tuesday through midday Thursday.
By late Tuesday afternoon, flight cancellations for Wednesday were stacking up with about 1,700 canceled across the United States. More than 1,100 of those Wednesday cancellations were heading to or from the world's busiest airport in Atlanta.
At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, more than 400 Tuesday flights were also canceled out of more than 1,200 U.S. flight cancellations on Tuesday, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.com.
On Tuesday afternoon, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines said it had canceled more than 1,500 Wednesday Delta and Delta Connection flights. The airline moved quickly Monday night to cancel more than 500 Tuesday flights ahead of the storm, according to spokesman Morgan Durrant.
All Wednesday Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways departures -- about 160 flights -- are canceled in Atlanta, according to a statement from the joint airlines.
The airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, is another spot where operations are getting snarled by winter weather, with more than 450 Wednesday flight cancellations at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, according to FlightAware. That's after more than 300 Tuesday cancellations.
The Atlanta airport ramped up winter storm operations Monday night, putting essential employees on 12-hour shifts in preparation for the week's bad weather. The airport said in a statement that it "will remain open and fully operational this week."
The airport has 11 de-icing pads, 100,000 gallons of de-icing fluids and 50,000 pounds of de-icing pellets ready to treat icy aircraft and runways as well as 50,000 pounds of a salt/sand mixture to treat the airport roadways, according to spokesman Reese McCranie. During the last winter storm, the airport went through 13,000 gallons of de-icing fluid, 35,000 pounds of de-icing pellets and 35,000 pounds of the salt/sand mixture, McCranie said.
Those materials will surely be needed if forecasts calling for freezing precipitation through much of Wednesday hold true.
"Accordingly, Atlanta will not be on a regular schedule until Thursday at the earliest," wrote Daniel Baker, chief of executive officer of FlightAware.com.
Airline customers should check their flight status with airlines before departing for the airport. Many airlines are offering flexible, no-fee changes to travel dates.
For those who must travel, North Carolina's Department of Transportation cautions drivers to reduce their speed, leave plenty of room between vehicles and approach bridges and overpasses with extreme caution. Do not apply your brakes on a bridge or if your car begins to slide.
If your car begins to slip, turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide and take your foot off the gas, the department advises.
AAA advises motorists to check tire pressure and make sure car batteries, cooling systems and antifreeze levels are in order. Keep gas tanks close to full, the automobile association advises, so you'll be able to run the engine for heat in case you get stranded.
AAA suggests keeping the following items in your car: a shovel and a bag of sand; a snowbrush and ice scraper; jumper cables; a spare tire; windshield wiper fluid; a cell phone and car charger; and blankets, gloves, hats and food, water and essential medication. Conserve the battery life on your cell phone by turning it off when not expecting or making a call.