US carriers have grounded 1,796 flights today, and 3,384 tomorrow - numbers which keep constantly rising - as Winter Storm Stella approaches the U.S. Northeast, according to FlightAware.com.
Chicago is bearing the largest share of Monday's cancellations, while Tuesday's disruptions are hitting hardest from Washington to Boston including the New York City area, AP adds. The major airlines are waiving ticket-change fees that range up to $200 for customers who want to change their travel plans. Restrictions vary by airline.
Southwest has canceled more than 300 flights for Monday and nearly another 900 scheduled for Tuesday, according to FlightAware. American Airlines and its American Eagle contractor Envoy Air together had canceled more than 300 flights Monday and 700 on Tuesday. JetBlue Airways, with major operations in Boston and New York, had already canceled more than 600 flights scheduled for Tuesday, FlightAware said.
The weather system may dump as much as 20 inches (51 centimeters) of snow from Connecticut to Long Island, including New York City, according to the National Weather Service. A deep freeze is poised to linger in the Northeast after the storm passes, sending Boston’s low to 14 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 10 Celsius) on March 16, 17 below average, AccuWeather Inc. data show
Meanwhile, as the blizzard bears down on the Eastern Seaboard, natural gas futures rose to one-month highs on speculation that demand for the heating fuel will surge during the storm, shrinking a supply glut, Bloomberg reports.
The late-winter cold blast is giving gas bulls a break after a warm start to the season sent the market plunging to an eight-month low earlier in the year. While gas stockpiles are still above normal for this time of year, frigid conditions could erode the surplus and stave off another price collapse before the summer.
“It’s not just tomorrow’s storm, but the forecast going out to late March that should be supportive for prices,” said Bob Yawger, director of the futures division at Mizuho Securities USA in New York. “But we’re coming to the end of the season, and storage is pretty healthy.”
While gas futures for April delivery rose 1.2%, to $3.044 per mmBTU at after earlier reaching $3.089, the highest since Feb. 10, gas is still down 18 percent this year, the worst performer among major commodities. However, a look at spot prices for NYC nat gas shows a much bigger spike, which is to be expected as the region will be most affected by the coming weather.
Of course, once the weather system passes later this week, expect a similar and just as sharp drop in prices.