Local News

Winter storm affects local Amtrak, flights

SEBRING - Yolanda Franklin was waiting Thursday at the Amtrak train station in Sebring to take the afternoon train to Miami.

She was one of the lucky ones.

Because of the winter storm battering the Northeast and the South, Amtrak Thursday canceled some of its trains and modified the schedules for others.

Since Franklin was traveling within Florida, she lucked out.

The Silver Star - train 91 and 92 - were running Thursday, but only from Jacksonville to Miami. Train 91 is the southbound one while 92 goes northbound. Both travel between New York and Miami.

While two of the four trains that stop in Sebring were running on truncated routes, canceled Thursday were the other two - the Silver Meteor, which also goes from Miami to New York. Train 98 goes north while Train 97 is the southbound one.

Kimberly Woods, with Amtrak media relations, said they were scheduled to decide later Thursday when the Silver Star and other long distance trains in and out of Florida would resume.

Franklin, who said she got a text message that let her know of the train schedule, appreciated the courtesy and said she would have driven if the rail journey was not possible Thursday.

Amtrak Acela Express trains between Washington and Boston, Northeast Regional trains between Boston and Norfolk, Va., Keystone Service between New York and Harrisburg, Pa., and Empire Service between New York and Albany, N.Y., were operating at reduced frequency or modified schedules Thursday.

Along with the Silver Meteor, Amtrak had canceled Auto Train, Crescent, Carolinian, Palmetto and Piedmont trains Thursday.

"Passengers holding reservations that require modification are being accommodated on other trains and proactively notified by Amtrak Customer Service," Woods said.

Meanwhile, airlines cancelled hundreds of flights at Atlanta's airport - the world's busiest - as the remnants of a snow and ice storm move across the area.

A total of about 860 flights Thursday into and out of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport were cancelled, according to the flight tracking service FlightAware.

That represents about 30 percent of the total flights for the day at Atlanta's airport, which is the major hub for Delta Air Lines.

On Wednesday, more than two-thirds of all scheduled flights to and from Atlanta's airport were canceled.

Nationwide, airlines cancelled more than 6,000 flights for Thursday, more than the number cancelled Wednesday, and that number was expected to rise as freezing precipitation moved over major airports in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C.; and New York, the Associated Press reported.

As of 3 p.m. Thursday, FlightAware was expecting 58 flight delays and 531 cancellations for Friday, a number that could rise.

According to FlightAware, 81 departures from Orlando International Airport were grounded and 83 Orlando-bound flights were delayed as of 3 p.m. Thursday.

The numbers were lower at the airports in Miami and Tampa.

More than 10,000 flights had been canceled so far this week.

Gwen Young, with Young At Heart Travel, said one of her clients, who was supposed to travel out of Baltimore airport to go on a cruise, cannot even drive to the airport.

If the severe weather continues she is expecting more cancellations and changes and said her clients with cancellation protection insurance will get a full refund and can reschedule their cruise.

"It's a good thing," she said of the policy, which she said a majority of her clients get.

The Associated Press contributed to the report.