43 TIA flights canceled as snow blankets mid-Atlantic states

TAMPA — Forty-three flights out of Tampa International Airport were canceled Thursday morning to and from the snow-pummeled mid-Atlantic by around 6:30 a.m.

Twenty-three were arrivals and 20 were departures. That's about half the number halted on Wednesday, when 77 cancellations turned the usually bustling airport into a ghost town.

Airport spokeswoman Kelly Figley said it was the same scene on Thursday.

It's not clear when the airport will get back to normal, with most airlines reporting that they'll try to fill empty seats on existing flights to accommodate stranded passengers. It's all up to Mother Nature.

National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Oglesby said it seems most of the snow in the affected areas — in and around Washington D.C. — has moved off the coast.

"When you're talking about the airports, now it's a matter of snow removal," Oglesby said.

Another storm system is expected to move across the eastern United States on Friday, but it'll be south of D.C., bringing chances of rain to the bay area and snow to parts of Georgia, Alabama and possibly North Florida, Oglesby said.

That's good news for Northerners who need "a chance to dig out," Oglesby said.

Still, at least one stranded business passenger was able to get home on Thursday. Peter van Aartrijk, profiled in the St. Petersburg Times on Tuesday from his makeshift desk at the Tampa International Airport, finally flew home at 7:20 a.m.

Aartrijk was supposed to leave Tampa on Sunday. He was booked onto a half-dozen flights that were canceled.

"I took a picture of me getting on the plane because I couldn't believe it," Aartrijk said. "I've taken probably 1,000 plane rides in my life, but this one seemed a little different. This one almost seemed like my first flight."

He touched down at Washington-Dulles International Airport at about 9:30 a.m., gathered his things and headed out to the parking garage, where his green Chevy Tahoe had been waiting since last Wednesday.

There was just one problem. His car wouldn't start.

"If it was going to happen, this is the perfect time for my car not to start. It completes the whole thing. It completes the whole saga," Aartrijk said with a laugh. "Life is good."

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43 TIA flights canceled as snow blankets mid-Atlantic states 02/11/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 11, 2010 12:47pm]

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