Thousands of flights are canceled as a massive winter storm tears across the US

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

(CNN) -- US airlines have canceled more than 3,500 flights combined for Wednesday and Thursday as a powerful winter storm packing ice, rain, sleet and snow is stretching from the Midwest to the South.

For Wednesday, Chicago O'Hare, a United and American Airlines hub, is the most affected airport with 241 cancellations, according to flight tracking site FlightAware. St. Louis, Denver and Detroit airports are also accumulating cancellations with 300 as of Wednesday afternoon. In total, airlines have canceled 1,700 US flights Wednesday.

Thursday appears to be even worse, with nearly 1,900 flights already canceled. Nearly 90% of scheduled flights from Dallas Love Field, a Southwest hub, have already been canceled. The airline has already cut 15% of its schedule for Thursday. Dallas Fort Worth, another American Airlines hub, has more than 230 cancellations, which accounts for 25% of its schedule.

Airlines issue travel waivers letting travelers rebook for free when severe weather impacts operations. CNN Travel has a guide about what to do if your flight is affected.

Ice accumulation is expected across the South, including in the Dallas-Fort Worth region and Memphis, with effects that could linger into the weekend. Overall, more than 90 million people are under winter weather alerts that stretch from the Rockies to New England.

"A corridor of heavy ice accumulation (exceeding a quarter of an inch) is likely from Texas through the Ohio Valley," the Weather Prediction Center said early Wednesday. "Locations impacted by snow and/or ice are expected to have temperatures remain below freezing, and well below average for at least a couple of days after the wintry precip(itation) ends."

It's been a miserable few weeks to be an airline traveler, especially after last weekend's storm that complicated travel. Winter weather and Omicron surges left 20,000 US flights canceled over the busy holiday travel season. As travel picked up, staffing cuts also left airlines with fewer employees than they had before the pandemic.

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