Update: Weather cancels hundreds of flights

Courtesy Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines had canceled six flights into and out of the capital city by 3 p.m. today (Friday), due to the wind.

The airline is still backed up due to Thursday’s snow and freezing rain in Seattle. But company spokesman Paul McElroy says schedules should be back to normal by tomorrow. By the end of the weekend, everybody who was booked on a flight that was canceled should be where they had planned to go.

Thursday’s weather forced the cancellation of 387 Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air flights in and out of Seattle, affecting 32,500 passengers.

“For the most part we operated a normal schedule as long as you weren’t touching Seattle,” he says.

Alaska operates about 120 flights a day out of Seattle Tacoma International Airport, 30 percent of its schedule.

McElroy says only 30 flights departed Seattle yesterday, but there were some arrivals.

“Once the airport was really open and we could have arrivals again, those airplanes were warm and we could more easily de-ice them and get them back out again,” he says.

De-icing was one of the biggest problems. McElroy says it took about an hour to de-ice each jet, four times longer than usual. It also required quadruple the amount of deicing fluid.

“Oh my gosh, all those icicles dripping off the sides of our aircraft,” he says. “For a while yesterday we were even legally prohibited from flying just because the icing was so bad.

All airlines were prohibited from flying into and out of Seattle until 10 a.m. Thursday, due to the freezing rain.

If you’re one of the thousands of passengers trying to get on a flight, the airlines will rebook or refund the cost of the ticket. McElroy says change fees are also being waived until Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Juneau’s high wind warning remains in effect until tomorrow morning.

National Weather Service meteorologist Joel Curtis says winds reached 77 mph early this morning at the Douglas Boat Harbor.

“Eldred Rock has just been screaming as usual. Skagway has gusts to 60 miles per hours and it’s just windy wherever you can pick up a channel facing the north,” Curtis says.

Tonight’s Juneau-Douglas hockey games have been postponed until Saturday and Sunday, due to a flight cancellation.

The JDHS varsity will play West Valley at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, with the junior varsity game at 7 p.m. The varsity teams play again Sunday at 7:30 a.m. at Treadwell Ice Arena.

Tonight’s University of Alaska Southeast presentation on whale songs has also been cancelled. Backed up flights out of Seattle prevented whale researcher Jim Darling from flying to Juneau.

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