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Northern blizzard leads to more canceled flights at TIA

Daughter Emily, mom Laura, and son Eli, all of the Edelman family of Newark, N.J., search their laptop for alternate ways to get home Monday from Tampa International after their Continental flight was canceled.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Daughter Emily, mom Laura, and son Eli, all of the Edelman family of Newark, N.J., search their laptop for alternate ways to get home Monday from Tampa International after their Continental flight was canceled.

The holiday blizzard that buried the Northeast forced airlines to cancel 57 flights in and out of Tampa International Airport on Monday.

Travelers flying today might have more luck, with the Big Apple's major airports back in business.

New York's John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports and New Jersey's Newark Liberty opened Monday evening and were expected to stay open today.. The airports closed Sunday or early Monday. Metro New York is by far the biggest market for Tampa International.

It could be days before airlines flying out of TIA can find seats for travelers on canceled flights, with planes flying full for the holidays. JetBlue Airways told Barbara Belashuk that she would have to wait until New Year's Eve to return to White Plains, N.Y.

"I expected a delay, but not until Friday,'' said Belashuk, a bookkeeper visiting family in Valrico. "I feel terrible. I'm going to miss work. I have friends watching my dog.''

JetBlue canceled the 9:30 a.m. Sunday flight that Mario Velasquez and his family were going to take back to New York. He was upset that the airline canceled his flight but flew another one at 11:30 a.m. that same day to New York. On Monday morning, the airline said the family would have to wait until Friday. Facing big hotel bills, Velasquez tried without success to find seats on other airlines. The best he found was an American Airlines flight Thursday.

Carriers canceled 53 flights Sunday to and from Tampa International. More than 400 flights depart and arrive from TIA on an average day in December.

Both Sunday and Monday, most local cancellations were planes scheduled to fly between New York and Tampa. But they included flights to and from destinations across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic — Albany, N.Y., Baltimore, Boston, Hartford, Providence, R.I., and Philadelphia.

St. Petersburg-Clearwater International reported no weather-related delays.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

After this morning, temps will climb again

The Arctic blast of cold air will drop morning temperatures throughout Tampa Bay to near record lows. In Tampa, it was expected to drop to 30 degrees, close to the 29 degree record low in 1902. In downtown St. Petersburg, the forecast of 38 degrees is within a few degrees of the record of 35 set in 1925.

Farther inland and northward, record lows could be set. In St. Leo, it was forecast to drop to 26 degrees, tying the record set in 1902. In Brooksville, the 27 degree record low set in 1902 was expected to fall with today's projected low of 20 degrees. Record lows in Manatee, Citrus and Polk counties were forecast as well.

In the strawberry fields in eastern Hillsborough, farmers will again spray their crops with water to form a protective layer of ice.

Billy Simmons of E.W. Simmons Farm in Dover estimated he has lost 10 to 20 percent of his crop this month.

With the extra water spraying, public works officials urged drivers to use caution when driving by farms because patches of black ice could form on roads.

Hillsborough opened four cold shelters for the homeless and those without heat Monday night, marking the 10th time cold weather shelters have opened this year.

In Pinellas, it was the third night in a row all eight shelters were open.

"It could go down as the coldest December ever," said Mike Clay, chief meteorologist for Bay News 9. "It's going to be close."

Clay said the temperature will climb the rest of the week. By Friday, the lows will be in the 50s and the highs in the 70s.

"It looks like we're going to have a nice moderating trend for the next two weeks," he said.

Northern blizzard leads to more canceled flights at TIA 12/27/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 8:24am]
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