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December 10, 2013

Storms snarl travel

MINNEAPOLIS — Snow and bitter cold snarled traffic and prompted another 1,650 U.S. flight cancellations on Monday, and tens of thousands of people were still without power after January-like weather barged in a month early.

The storm covered parts of north Texas in ice over the weekend and then moved East. Below-zero temperatures crowned the top of the U.S. from Idaho to Minnesota, where many roads still had an inch-thick plate of ice, polished smooth by traffic and impervious to ice-melting chemicals, making intersections an adventure.

Many travelers wished they were home, and people in homes without power wished they were somewhere else.

Some of the most difficult conditions were in North Texas. More than 22,000 Dallas-area homes and businesses were still without power on Monday, according to electric utility Oncor. That was down from 270,000 on Friday. Dallas students got a snow day.

More than half of the nation’s flight cancellations on Monday were at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, dominated by American Airlines. About 650 travelers were stranded there Sunday night.

Nationally, there have been more than 6,100 flight cancellations since Saturday, according to FlightStats.com, including more than 2,800 by American or its American Eagle regional airline. American emerged from bankruptcy protection and merged with US Airways on Monday.

A flight cancellation meant that Fred and Brenda Mull of Oklahoma City spent Sunday night in a Dallas hotel instead of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. American canceled their Monday morning flight, too, and they weren’t happy as they sat in the international lobby. They’d spent three hours on hold with American, which told them not to go to the airport or search for a new reservation — advice they ignored.

“Am I supposed to sit at the hotel and wait for them to call? And pay for the hotel?” Brenda Mull said. “They wouldn’t have gone through bankruptcy if they ran it like a business.” The couple was scheduled on another flight Monday night.

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