Around 7,000 transatlantic and US domestic flights have been cancelled as the east coast of America braces itself for the arrival of a dangerous hybrid storm.
Further cancellations are expected for Tuesday and Wednesday as Hurricane Sandy collides with a winter storm to create a potentially catastrophic weather system.
British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Air France began cancelling flights yesterday (Sunday) and have cancelled all flights in and out of New York and other US east coast destinations today.
BA has cancelled all flights to and from New York, Baltimore, Washington, Boston and Philadelphia, with the exception of the BA238 from Boston.
It is offering customers the chance to change their travel plans if they are due to travel to or from the east coast from October 26 to October 31.
Virgin has cancelled flights to and from New York, Washington and Boston and has also cancelled flights departing from JFK and Newark early tomorrow (Tuesday).
According to flight tracker website flightaware.com, 1,251 flights in total were cancelled yesterday and another 5,559 flights today.
"Every airline is allowing fee-free changes (and refunds in some cases) for itineraries potentially impacted by the storm," it said.
Hurricane Sandy has already swept across the Caribbean killing around 60 people.
A number of states on the east coast have declared a state of emergency.
In New York all public transport has been cancelled and 375,000 people in low-lying areas have been ordered to evacuate.
The Statue of Liberty, which was re-opened on Sunday after a year of renovation, has been closed again until at least Wednesday and the New York Stock Exchange, which initially said it would remain open, has now decided to close today and possibly tomorrow.
Forecasters have warned that the impact could reach as far as 520 miles from the eye of the storm, with tropical storm force winds up to 73 mph.
Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com, said: "Storm surge flooding will occur over a much larger area, when compared to a hurricane and more severe than a typical nor'easter.
"It is likely to be more than just a few waves over washing the seawall in the hardest-hit areas. Sandy has the potential to bring historic storm surge flooding near and north of the center. It is possible areas from New York City and Long Island to New Jersey, the Delmarva and into the Philadelphia areas have some of their worst coastal flooding on record, depending on exactly where the storm tracks."
by Bev Fearis
Monday, October 29, 2012