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Potential Ground, Air Delays Raise Holiday Shipping Concerns

As more than 110 million brace for this weekend's snowstorm, travel and holiday gift delivery concerns are mounting.

With the weekend's snowstorm predicted to dump anywhere from 1 to 12 inches on areas from St. Louis to Boston, roadway delays, flight cancellations and late deliveries are likely.

However, major airports, departments of transportation and shipping companies up are gearing up for the weekend's wintry weather.

While Saturdays are typically the least busy day of the week for air travel, airports across the Northeast are preparing for the worst.

"We will have crews on staff Saturday, Saturday night and Sunday morning," Director of Media Relations for Massport, which owns and operates Boston Logan International Airport, Matthew Brelis said.

While Boston airport personnel are experienced with operating in snowy conditions, winning the airport industry snow removal award for the last nine years, the industry isn't taking any chances.

"It's something we are used to and something we do well, but every storm is different and we never think that mother nature is something to take lightly," Brelis said. "But we will be prepared."

As the storm is projected to impact most of the Northeast's major airports, multiple airlines are advising travelers to keep themselves updated.

In Philadelphia, the city's international airport is advising flyers traveling on Saturday to check the status of the flight prior to leaving for the airport. Just last weekend a different snowstorm caused travel delays averaging 30 to 40 minutes at the Philadelphia International Airport.

To stay up to date on the latest flight delay information across the nation, travelers can visit the Federal Aviation Administration's website, which will classify airports by colors due to the lengths of their current delays.

As poor visibility, snow-covered runways and icy planes will likely cause air travel headaches, ground travel will be impaired as well.

Slippery roads, reduced visibility and the possibility of ice could halt travel along the I-80 and I-95 corridors Friday night through Sunday. However, road crews have already begun to take action.

"We have more than 2,250 trucks available although not all of them will be out at one time," PennDOT Spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt said. "Across the state our regions will be staffing up at different times starting early Saturday morning."

In Pennsylvania, roadways have already been prepped for winter weather, so most will not need additional salting during the storm, according to Waters-Trasatt, but regardless, the public is strongly encouraged to stay off the roadways if possible.

Farther north, Massachusetts has also put plans into motion, preparing to be hit the hardest by the storm. The state has more than 4,000 pieces of equipment ready and approximately 300,000 tons of salt, according to MassDOT Spokeswoman Sara Lavoie.

For those who will be out on the roadways this weekend, live traffic cameras, incident reports and winter road conditions are available online. See the chart at the bottom of this article to find your state's website.

Due to the likelihood of both air and ground travel, it is possible that holiday deliveries will also be hindered. Although, re-routing plans may aid in timely shipping despite the weather.

Contingency planning experts and staff meteorologists have been working round the clock at UPS, tracking developing weather patterns and creating alternate ground and air re-routing plans to enact if necessary, according to UPS Public Relations Director Susan Rosenburg.

"We've prepared at air gateways for de-icing of any weekend flights," Rosenburg said. "We'll do everything we can to maintain service with vehicles on the road as long as safety permits."

While last weekend's storm did delay some package processing in the Dallas area and in parts of Arkansas, UPS now has extra trailers, leased aircraft and more than 55,000 seasonal workers ready to manage the busiest holiday delivery day, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, regardless of this weekend's potential weather delays.

Roadway Information by State

Ill. Dept. of Transportation
Ill. Dept. of Transportation
New York
N.Y. State Thruway
Conn. DOT
Rhode Island
Vermont 511
New Hampshire

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