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Northern snow scrubs 16 flights to, from Tampa International Airport

TAMPA — Sixteen flights in and out of Tampa International Airport on Tuesday were canceled because of the snowstorm pummeling the Northeast.

Most of the canceled flights were to and from the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore areas, said airport spokeswoman Brenda Geoghagan.

Nine Southwest Airlines flights were canceled, United had five, and US Airways and Delta each had one. Ten were departures, and six were arrivals.

Each airline also had a few flights delayed.

All this as another snowstorm was gaining momentum Tuesday in the mid-Atlantic region.

Some of the stranded passengers at TIA meandered around the main terminal, checking the departure boards from time to time.

Peter van Aartrijk of Springfield, Va., was supposed to fly home Sunday after arriving Wednesday for a Tampa conference and a visit with family in St. Petersburg. Then the snowstorm began hitting Virginia, so his 11 a.m. flight was canceled.

Then his rebooked flight was canceled Monday. On Monday night, his airline called and said a flight was departing shortly, but he was at Central Cigars in downtown St. Petersburg, he said, and his car got stuck in a locked municipal parking lot.

On Tuesday morning, Aartrijk went to the airport for a 9 a.m. flight, which was canceled, followed by an 11 a.m. cancellation. He sat with a double-shot espresso drink from Starbucks, setting up a makeshift office with his laptop and cell phone.

"I tell this to everyone but my wife: There's a lot worse places to get stranded," Aartrijk, 51, said.

Amber James, a 25-year-old barista at the airport Starbucks, said some stranded customers seemed upset, though a few seemed happy about staying away from the snow.

Geoghagan said she hoped passengers would be patient, "especially if you're trying to get into D.C. and Baltimore. Those seem to be the hardest hit."

The airport recommends checking its Web site for changes to flight plans.

National Weather Service forecaster John McMichael said that some areas in and around Washington got 3 feet of snow in the past couple of days after a major storm struck overnight Friday.

That part of the country could easily see another foot of snow in a second storm Tuesday night, McMichael said.

"This will have a significant impact to the Northeast," he said.

It's not clear how many more flight cancellations could be in store.

"The storm is hitting today and tomorrow, so I guess we'll have to see how much snow there is," Geoghagan sad. "We can't control the weather."

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Northern snow scrubs 16 flights to, from Tampa International Airport 02/09/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 1:02pm]
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