RALEIGH DURHAM INTERNATIONAL (WTVD) --A powerful nor'easter is lashing the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast prompting flight cancellations across the country, including at Raleigh Durham International Airport.
The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings for parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.
The storm was expected to dump 1 to 2 feet of snow on the New York City metro area with wind gusts of up to 55 mph.
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According to the airline-tracking website FlightAware, more than 5,000 Tuesday flights were canceled. Amtrak also canceled and modified service up and down the Northeast Corridor.
At RDU Tuesday, flight boards showed around 170 to New York and other Northeastern areas like Boston and Philadelphia were canceled.
Janine Aversing almost didn't make it to North Carolina in time to surprise her grandchildren.
"Well I'm flying out of Boston," Aversing said. "I anticipated a cancellation or a delay. So I called yesterday to rebook an earlier flight and luckily I did because my original flight got canceled."
Aversing said she had about a 30-minute delay while they de-iced the plane. But she's happy she rebooked early.
"I'm ecstatic," Aversing said. "I just talked to my grandson on the phone yesterday so he has no idea I'm coming and I can't wait to see the look on his face. And my granddaughter."
Rick French was also able to get on another flight after his connection in Chicago got cancelled. Now, he'll make it to Austin in time to deliver a speech. But he won't have his luggage.
"It's gonna make it a little difficult," French said. "I guess I'll be speaking in what I'm wearing but that's alright."
For Duke University students Khaled Alsaboh and James Peek, heading to Punta Cana for spring break, the cancellations actually worked in their favor. Now, they'll fly through Charlotte instead of through Newark.
"We're getting there at 12:30," Alsaboh said. "Originally I think we were supposed to get there at 1:15. It's about 45 minutes of more sun so I'm not complaining."
"We also have to wake up an hour later.. so happy," Peek said. "We get some extra beach time, which is not a bad thing."
Travelers are urged to check with their airlines before traveling.
The weather service's office near Philadelphia called the storm "life-threatening" and warned people to "shelter in place." Coastal flood warnings were in effect from Massachusetts to Delaware.
The heaviest snowfall was expected Tuesday morning through the afternoon, with snowfall rates as high as 2 to 4 inches per hour.
The nor'easter comes a week after the region saw temperatures climb into the 60s. Spring officially starts on March 20.
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