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Ice storm, snow strand travelers at Tampa International Airport

TAMPA — Nichole William and her niece expected to leave Sarasota about 6 p.m. Wednesday for a flight to North Carolina.

By the time they actually get in the air, they will have logged more than 27 hours in two airports.

If all goes well.

"I'm not an airport person," said the niece, 19-year-old Kayleigh Burke, curled up in a chair at Tampa International Airport.

As airports across the United States scrambled to deal with winter weather Thursday, Florida's snow-free airports were not spared. More than 70 flights were canceled Thursday at TIA.

Williams' journey was supposed to begin in Sarasota on Wednesday night.

First, a 6 p.m. flight was delayed by two hours. Then, as she was buckled in and the safety demonstration was beginning, the pilot announced the tarmac at the airport in Charlotte, N.C., had closed.

Passengers were not pleased. One man shook his seat until it broke, said Burke.

"We had been waiting, we were all seated and thought we were leaving and went nowhere," she said.

The two could have waited and left Sarasota on Thursday, but they decided to try to catch a flight from Tampa at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday. Two women in the same situation gave them a ride to Tampa.

As they awaited word on their flight, they pulled out laptops, played games and watched television.

They also worried that the next stage of their flight — Charlotte to New York — would be delayed.

"I'm hoping that it clears up so that we can get up there, because I know New York has a lot of snow," William said.

According to the National Weather Service, the storm could affect 22 states from Texas to Maine. Eight inches were possible in Washington, D.C. New York will see 8 to 12 inches.

At the US Airways ticket counter, dozens of people were in line before 10 a.m. Thursday to reschedule flights for themselves or someone else.

Mark Hogan, 55, was trying to get home to Ottawa, through Philadelphia, where another foot of snow was expected Thursday.

"Philly got hosed pretty well yesterday," Hogan said.

He was waiting to cancel his scheduled flight there Thursday night for fear of getting stuck in that airport. He will look for another flight to take home on Friday.

TIA officials urged travelers to check their flight's status online before heading to the airport.

If picking someone up at the airport, they said, waiting in the cellphone lot is also recommended.

This report includes information from the Associated Press.

Canceled flights on the board at Raleigh-Durham International Airport include many for Charlotte and Atlanta.

Getty Images

Canceled flights on the board at Raleigh-Durham International Airport include many for Charlotte and Atlanta.

Ice storm, snow strand travelers at Tampa International Airport 02/13/14 [Last modified: Thursday, February 13, 2014 9:07pm]
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