Sophomore Ruth Ann Roberts and junior Keegan Carson left Saturday, Feb. 15 with advisor Kristen Wyse to fly out to the National Association for the National Association for Campus Activities Convention in Boston.
They flew from Des Moines to Chicago without a problem and were originally supposed to have a four-hour delay. Then, the winter weather intervened.
“We were aware that the weather had the possibility to be bad. Originally, however, the weather was supposed to hit Boston after our flight had landed. We thought we were in the clear,” Roberts said.
It was 24 degrees outside and by the end of the day, Chicago would receive close to nine inches of snow. USA Today reported that more than 6,500 flights were cancelled nationwide on Feb. 13. The number was expected to climb through the weekend, interfering with the CAB representatives’ trip east.
Mark Duell, FlightAware.com’s Vice President of Operations, called the day “the fifth worst day for flight cancellations we’ve seen in the last 3 years” in a Feb. 14 email to USA Today’s travel blog ‘Today in the Sky’.
CNN reported that Americans in two-dozen states are experiencing colder than normal weather due to a distorted ‘polar vortex’: a low-pressure system that consists of a circulation of strong, upper-level winds that normally surround the northern pole in a counterclockwise motion.
The distortion of the polar vortex occurs when there is a change of intensity and the winds become weaker. The result is a jet stream of cold dense Artic air that flows through southern lands and dramatically lowers the temperatures. This distortion only occurs in the Northern Hemisphere including North America, Europe and Asia. It can happen several times a year, but does not always lead to cold snaps each time.
After two hours of waiting in the airport, Roberts, Carson and Wyse were notified that their flight had been cancelled. Wyse hurried to talk to an agent and discuss their options.
“I found out that all flights to Boston were cancelled for that day due to the storm starting sooner than expected,” said Wyse.
Wyse booked them a flight to Baltimore, so they could get fairly close to Boston. However, their flight was not due to leave until 8 p.m. that evening, so they had some time to kill.
“Most of the day was spent reading, walking around, and watching Netflix and Hulu,” Wyse said.
After 12 hours of waiting in Chicago, the three boarded the plane bound for Baltimore.
“Literally right as we sat down in our chairs on the plane, it started to snow. They were huge snowflakes, and we could just tell that everyone on the plane was ready to get off the ground in hopes of not getting another flight cancelled,” Roberts said.
Luckily, the plane was not delayed, and the three landed safely in Baltimore shortly after 11 p.m.
“When we landed in Boston the next morning, the roads were clean, and it was warmer in Boston than it was in Iowa. Apparently, the weather in Boston itself was not that bad, and it was just the airport being careful by closing down and canceling our flight,” Roberts said.
Simpson First-Year Area Coordinator Laura Shell and her husband were headed to Lincoln, Nebraska. They had checked the weather before leaving and didn’t have any concerns.
“We knew there would be snow, but didn’t think it would inhibit our ability to travel,” she said. “We only got to Dexter before making the decision to turn around. I knew there was a car about 50 yards in front of me, but couldn’t see it anymore because of the blowing snow, so I didn’t feel safe on the road.”
Shell made the decision to head to Ames to watch the Iowa State basketball game, thinking the weather would be better up north.
“We came to a stop on the interstate. Then, the car directly behind us went in the ditch on the left and the next car spun into the ditch on the right.”
No one was hurt, and Shell and her husband made it back home safely.
“I’m ready for winter to be over. I think we’ve had enough snow,” Shell said.
Wyse said she has not really enjoyed the winter weather this year.
“I liked that we had snow around the holidays since last year it was pretty scarce, but other than that I have not enjoyed it. I live in Des Moines, so it has made many drives to work dangerous and difficult and messed with my schedule multiple times.”
Roberts agreed. “I am ready for the spring and the time of year where we no longer have to wear winter coats outside anymore.”
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, which is said to have an 80 percent accuracy rate, the Des Moines area will continue to be cold and snowy with brief warm periods until mid-March.
However, on the brighter side, it says April and May will be warmer than usual.