A fierce storm bringing high winds and heavy rain is causing flight delays and other problems around the Northeast. (March 2)

Last update: 5:20 p.m. ET. 

Airlines had canceled more than 3,200 flights Friday as a powerful nor’easter brought rain, snow and severe wind to much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Most carriers were waiving change fees for fliers there.

Underscoring the impact of the storm on flights, the air traffic control tower at Washington Dulles briefly was “evacuated due to high winds,” according to a tweet from the airport. Controllers return shortly after. On another flight arriving to Dulles earlier Friday, nearly all on board got ill from a “bumpy landing.” 

Disruptions from the storm were widespread. 

Nationwide, 3,220 flights had been canceled and another 3,045 delayed as of 5:20 p.m. ET, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware

Most of those cancellations were spread across airports in the Northeast, where wind gusts of up to 70 mph were possible. The winds were expected to have an unusually long duration, lasting into Saturday. Some preemptive cancellations were already being reported for Saturday, with 280 already grounded.    

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“Many airlines proactively cancelled flights last night and this morning in anticipation of the forecasted winds,” FlightAware Sara Orsi said in a Friday afternoon statement. “This has reduced broader impact to operations and will help them recover their schedules faster.”

“We expect this situation to improve by tomorrow morning,” she added.

For Friday, the storm was snarling flight schedules, including several of the nation’s busiest airports.

About % of the entire day’s schedule had been canceled at New York LaGuardia. More than 700 flights — 365 departures and 360 arrivals – were canceled there as of 5:20 p.m. ET, according to FlightAware. About a third had been grounded at Boston, Washington Reagan National and Newark Liberty.

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Many of the region’s other major airports also were seeing significant cancellation tallies. Anywhere from 20% to 40% of the day’s flights had been canceled at the New York JFK, Philadelphia, Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y.,  airports.

The cancellation counts also were growing at several others, including Baltimore/Washington, Cleveland, Raleigh/Durham and Richmond, Va.

For flights that weren’t canceled, some fliers faced rough conditions because of the windy weather.

The pilot of a 50-seat regional jet landing at Washington Dulles reported nearly all on board became nauseous because of the “bumpy” landing conditions.

“Very bumpy on descent,” the pilot said in an in-flight report on conditions on the National Weather Service’s Aviation Weather Center website.

“Pretty much every one on the plane threw up,” continued the pilot, adding that not even they were immune. “Pilots were on the verge of throwing up.”

The pilot, identified as flying a Bombardier CRJ-200 for United Express, reported the conditions at 4,000 feet while landing at Dulles at 7:38 a.m. ET, according to the information on Aviation Weather Center.

Like the rest of the the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, the Washington area was dealing with strong sustained winds and gusts of 60 mph or more.

Against those conditions, most big airlines had waived change fees for Friday and Saturday flights to or from affected airports.  

The details varied by carrier, but they generally allowed customers to make one change to their itineraries without paying a change fee or fare difference. The policies covered a wide range of airports stretching form Virginia north into New York state and New England.

Scroll down for links to the flexible rebooking policies currently in place at big U.S. carriers:

Alaska Airlines/Virgin America


Cape Air





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WATCH: Delta’s last Boeing 747 makes low pass over Arizona ‘boneyard’


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