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Plane skids off runway at O'Hare

Monday, December 29, 2008
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No one was injured Wednesday night when an American Airlines plane hit an icy patch while turning onto a runway at O'Hare International Airport and slid sideways into the grass.

Flight 1544 was on its way to Washington D.C. but the MD80 ended up with its left main tire and nose tire in the grass. American spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan says all 54 passengers were bused to the airport and put on other flights.

Holiday Travel Delays

Some stranded travelers are still fighting to get home for the holidays.

Many travelers are on their way to their final destination. They're very hopeful that they'll be able to spend Christmas and the holidays with their families.

The situation is certainly different from Wednesday morning, and especially Tuesday night. On Wednesday afternoon, officials at O'Hare Airport told ABC7 that the average delay is about 30 minutes and less than 100 flights have been canceled. Travelers are optimistic and hopeful that their flights will depart as scheduled on Wednesday afternoon, and later in the evening.

There are still some travelers from the area who have been watching the storm and who came to the airport prepared. They wanted to make sure that they had everything just in case. One particular family right actually packed an entire suitcase full of junk food just in case the weather got bad.

"We have a suitcase case with a ton of food in case we got stranded. We heard some of these flights people were stranded for three days, so we have a lot of junk food. We're prepared," said Susie Boravsky, holiday traveler.

On Tuesday, more than 500 flights were canceled at O'Hare. Hundreds of passengers had to spend Tuesday night at the airport.

On Wednesday morning, many of those passengers were trying to get out of here, trying to get to their final destinations.

The situation has improved at O'Hare Airport. At Midway, the delays right were running between 30 and 40 minutes on Wednesday afternoon. There have been no cancellations at that airport.

If you are traveling, call your individual airlines ahead.

Christmas Eve Morning

Airlines were scrambling to get passengers to their destinations. Hundreds of flights were canceled at O'Hare Airport, leaving passengers with no choice but to spend the night at one of the world's busiest airports.

It was a restless night for hundreds, who tried to sleep wherever they could find a spot.

"That wasn't fun& I've been here since 11 last night," said Amanda Humes, who said she got sleep "here and there."

Many of the passengers who are stranded are international passengers, including Florent Meyer, who is headed to Indianapolis from Paris.

"Last night they canceled one of my flights. I was on standby for a second flight. It was canceled as well. So I slept at the airport overnight. Because I was very lucky, I had the last ticket for the morning flight. And then when I woke up, checked the display board, all of my flights were canceled for the day," said Meyer.

With the weather cooperating, the morning got off to a good start with only a handful of cancellations and delays. Just before 6 a.m., those who spent the night crowded the airlines' ticket counters hoping to get a flight out. Aviation officials are optimistic the airlines will be able to come through today - but there is a chance some travelers will have to spend another night here.

"This time yesterday, when we were talking, things looked pretty good. Then by mid-morning because of the weather conditions, things weren't so good after that. Hopefully the airlines are going to be able to get a lot of people out," said Karen Pride, Spokesperson, Chicago Dept. of Aviation.

Passengers arriving at O'Hare Wednesday hope there won't be a repeat. Morrine Murphy is sending her two kids to Mexico to visit relatives.

"I 'm feeling OK so far," said Morrine Murphy. "I just hope the line moves a little bit quick. I keep thinking positive thoughts, saying, 'They will make it. They will make it.'"

Chicago area roads messy

On Tuesday afternoon, traffic on the Kennedy Expressway at the Randolph overpass was just barely moving.

The side streets were covered with ice and snow. Residents were having a difficult time driving on many city streets. Some Chicagoans claim they have never seen such treacherous conditions on the side streets and they are concerned about residents who live in the area.

"This is the worst one we ever had. Many people getting laid off&need to get the streets together, get the snow up. It's ugly. People need to get around out here," said Zuriel Anderson, Chicago resident.

"Streets and sanitation needs to get out here and get on the job. Too many people stranded, man. People are stuck. Look at the streets," said Laveil Harper, Chicago resident.

The Streets and Sanitation commissioner says snow command has been monitoring the incoming snow bands to main streets and doing their best to keep traffic moving. Side streets are also a concern. They realize it must be addressed.

"That is our goal: to complete all the mains right now and get ready for this evening's rush and keep an eye on the system behind the one we just had and eventually get into the side streets, be it this evening or the early morning hours of tomorrow," said Mike Picardi, commissioner, Dept. of Streets & Sanitation.

According to Picardi, it has been a difficult season and the freezing temperatures make it difficult to keep side streets clean.

"Even though we plowed Saturday night, we plowed Sunday, the best we could do was flatten out the streets but they're still going to remain frozen until temperatures rise," said Picardi.

Streets and sanitation announced it has increased the number of snow-fighting trucks from 184 to 274 which is 100 percent of the fleet.

"If that system is heavy and produces snow that will cover the main, we will keep that out on the mains and once we're finished with the main after midnight at some point we will get inside and do all the side streets," said Picardi.

The commissioner says that one problem is when people clean around their cars and sidewalks and throw that snow into the side streets and that freezes and creates an ice problem. Picardi urges the public to put the snow in the parkway instead.

Forecasters say subzero temperatures that hit Illinois will give way to a snow and ice storm.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory from early Tuesday through early Wednesday across the northern tier of Illinois. Meteorologists say they expect snow to accumulate 2 to 4 inches on Tuesday before changing over to sleet and freezing rain on Tuesday night.

The expected snow and ice storm comes after brutally cold subzero temperatures and wind chills of as low as minus 35 degrees hit Illinois over the weekend.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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