TAMPA — Nearly 40 percent of flights in and out of Tampa International Airport were canceled Tuesday — the most this winter — as an enormous snowstorm bore down on the Midwest.
It was a record day for a season that already has seen more canceled flights at TIA than at any time in recent years.
The string of bad weather up North started in December, much earlier than usual, said Brenda Geoghagan, an airport spokeswoman.
"And of course, the season's not over yet," Geoghagan said.
At least 88 flights in and out of TIA were canceled out of about 220 scheduled for the day, among thousands scrubbed across the country. The previous high for the season was 58.
Snow could affect about a third of the country over the next few days, according to weather forecasters. The storms are expected to bring ice, sleet, snow and possibly tornadoes to the Midwest before rolling through the Northeast, where some cities already have been hammered by snow this winter.
Most passengers aren't stranded. Fewer than 10 percent of TIA's passengers are on connecting flights, so most return to a hotel or home, Geoghagan said. Other snow days with several canceled flights went smoothly in Tampa, and Tuesday was not a peak day for travel.
The canceled flights in Tampa involved cities in the path of the storm, including Chicago, Detroit and Kansas City. Many northern cities expect to see record snowfall.
St. Louis, Kansas City and Milwaukee could be dealing with the brunt of the storm with up to 2 feet of snowfall expected by midweek.
Forecasts show this week could bring Chicago its third-biggest snowstorm with up to 20 inches of snow. The city was hit hardest in 1967 with 23 inches of snow.
But Tampa Bay? It'll be warm.
"I think people in other parts of the country are going to wish they were in Florida today," said Juli Marquez, Bay News 9 meteorologist.
Overnight into Wednesday will be breezy, and temperatures will dip into the 60s. There could be some scattered showers and patchy fog, too, Marquez said.
Wednesday is expected to bring a cold front and a chance of thunderstorms. Thursday will be mostly cloudy with a chance for rain and cooler weather. Still, it'll only get down to the 60s.
Friday will be warm again, along with another chance of scattered showers.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.