Blizzard Strands Travelers Across Country

The Blizzard of 2003 was weaving a web of delays far beyond the East Coast, stranding travelers at airports and rail terminals throughout the country.

The Federal Aviation Administration said weather conditions closed airports from New York to Washington, and emergencies were declared in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Delaware.

The major airports at Philadelphia and Washington were closed Monday except for one runway at Washington Dulles International Airport. New York's LaGuardia closed all its runways; Newark Liberty International and John F. Kennedy officially stayed open, but almost all domestic flights were canceled.

The snowstorm, however, wasn't just causing delays for those on the frigid East Coast.

At Los Angeles International Airport, there were delays of up to five hours and some cancellations Sunday.

And thousands were stranded in Florida Monday as they waited out the deadly winter storm.

About 40 flights -- 15 percent of those scheduled -- could not depart Monday from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, stranding about 5,000 passengers.

"This is the most cancellations I have seen in years," Fort Lauderdale airport spokesman Jim Reynolds said.

Thousands more were stranded at Miami International Airport, where a spokesperson said the airport kept restaurants open late Sunday and early Monday to feed stranded passengers. Miami is a major hub connecting South America and the Caribbean with the rest of the United States.

The nation's capital and surrounding areas were hit particularly hard by the storm.

It appears it may be at least Monday night before any planes will get in or out of Baltimore-Washington International Airport, where more than 400 flights have been canceled. Officials said about 150 travelers spent the night at the airport, where airport workers distributed blankets and pillows to them.

Spokeswoman Tracy Newman said she wasn't certain when operations at BWI would resume. Although the snow had stopped, she said ground crews were still battling heavy winds.

Robert and Elizabeth Huffman had been returning to Washington after a trip to the Bahamas, but their connecting flight out of Miami International was canceled.

"We are not going anywhere," Elizabeth Huffman said.

"Everything's canceled until Wednesday, which I find hard to believe," she said.

Her husband found an alternative.

"We are thinking about going to the beach for the day," he said.

Dulles International had one runway open Monday, but Delta and United Airlines canceled their flights into the airport for most of the day.

Richmond International Airport was open Monday and conditions were said to be improving. Spokesman Troy Bell said about a quarter of the flights were taking off early Monday. He said planes needed major de-icing efforts.

Bell said the terminal was busy, as travelers stranded Sunday tried to get flights out Monday.

In Roanoke, Va., airport spokeswoman Amanda DeHaven said there were delays and cancellations.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport remained closed Monday and Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority spokeswoman Tara Hamilton said the airport would not reopen until 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Atlantic City International Airport was closed Sunday night and a spokesman said to expect substantial delays Monday.

At Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport there were a dozen flights canceled as of Monday morning, a spokeswoman said.

Despite some cancellations, the mood was "just fine" at Denver International Airport, according to a spokesman. "We've got great weather here," he said. "People are finding out their flights are canceled and they just go back to the hotel."

American Airlines canceled at least 15 flights from Puerto Rico on Monday and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was also stranded.

Albright, who gave a speech in San Juan on Iraq Saturday night, was first scheduled to fly back Sunday on a private jet to Washington.

But she postponed the return until Monday, said Reina Benitez, president of the World Forum of Puerto Rico, which organized her appearance.

American Airlines canceled flights from San Juan's Luis Munoz Marin airport to Baltimore, Boston, Hartford, Connecticut, New York, Newark, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington, airline spokeswoman Minnette Velez said.

Customers can make flight changes without penalty until Feb. 21, she said.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline could not immediately provide the number of affected passengers, but said it would not pay for hotel rooms for those who may need to stay overnight on this balmy Caribbean island.

"We don't control the weather," Velez said.

Those trying to make a go of it on the rails weren't having much better luck than prospective fliers.

Amtrak canceled about 25 percent of its Northeast trains as part of a modified holiday schedule and operated empty trains overnight to keep fresh snow from settling along the tracks, said Dan Stessel, a railroad spokesman.

On Monday, most trains between Boston and Washington were operating, said an advisory statement on But all trains operating between Washington and Florida had been canceled, including the Silver Service trains that operate to and from New York City and the Auto Train operating to and from Lorton, Va.

Many travelers were left stranded by the snowfall, but most weren't as far from home as Lynn Anderson of Belfast, Ireland.

"It's turned into a complete nightmare, said Anderson, who left her husband behind in Belfast and had to stay overnight in a downtown Philadelphia hotel. I've never been stranded by myself before."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.