Travelers at O'Hare International Airport continued to suffer long delays on Monday afternoon, hours after one of the largest November snowstorms recorded in the Chicago area.
The storm dumped up to 13 inches of snow and contributed to more than 1,200 cancellations at Chicago airports on Sunday and Monday. Delays for arrivals at O'Hare averaged 1.5 hours at 3:20 p.m.
Heavy snow also caused delays on the Metra commuter train and on the roads during the morning rush hour, although conditions had improved on Monday afternoon.
The Federal Aviation Administration cited weather conditions, especially strong winds, as a cause of delays at O'Hare airports and in the Northeast, including airports in Boston, New Jersey and New York.
Some entry delays at O'Hare were more than three hours, which caused increasing frustration for passengers waiting to return home after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Shaena Wright, 18, waited in line to re-book her flight with a group of college students trying to return to Washington, D.C.
Wright said he had already lost three classes at George Washington University after two canceled flights.
"I really need to find a flight," Wright said. "I'm hysterical at this point."
Chicago Aviation spokeswoman Lauren Huffman said the city was able to open its parallel tracks at O'Hare on Monday afternoon.
"Hopefully, that will help," he said.
Conditions were better at the Midway airport, where delays averaged less than 15 minutes. Only 71 flights were canceled at Midway, compared to 1,161 at O'Hare, according to the Department of Aviation.
The boards showing exits at O'Hare were full of cancellations marked in red. He took a snack cart to appease American Airlines customers who waited in a particularly long line.
Adrienne Forgette, 63, of Farmington, N.M., had come to Chicago to visit her family. His daughter-in-law was ordered on Sunday, he said. His flight home was delayed several times and then canceled.
"It's pretty routine," he said as he waited in line to re-book his flight.
"It snowed so much in New Mexico two weeks ago," said Forgette, showing an inch with his fingers. "And everything was canceled."
Metra saw large delays in all its lines on Monday morning due to fallen trees, cars stuck in the tracks and some mechanical problems. But spokesman Michael Gillis said he does not expect big problems for the afternoon hours.
On Monday morning, the most severe impact was the Union Pacific North line in Kenosha, which suffered several long delays, including one that took approximately 2 1/2 hours to reach an outbound train. The delays along the line were caused by a fallen tree near Lake Forest that was trapped in a power line, Gillis said.
The Metra officers had to wait for the Commonwealth Edison crews to clear the mess.
Another major delay was caused by a bus accident near the Metra tracks at the North Central Service in Prospect Heights.
For the afternoon, some delays were reported until 3:30 p.m., including a 60-minute delay on a Union Pacific Northwest Line entrance train.
Vehicles on the roads in the area moved slowly due to snow during the morning rush hour, but travel times improved as the day wore on, said Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Guy Tridgell.
Tridgell said that the freeways in the Chicago area are in "very good shape," and that the gangs are now focusing on ramps, shoulders and other places that need attention.
Crews are also plowing on secondary routes in areas that saw higher snow totals in Kane, McHenry, Lake, DuPage and Cook North counties, Tridgell said.
"We have labor and equipment in those places, but motorists should anticipate a slower trip in the afternoon and evening, with some unforeseen conditions," he said.
He warned that IDOT will have a limited number of plows on treatment surfaces during the night to treat freezing and observe drifting snow, so drivers should be careful.
"The public should be aware that plowed surfaces that appear free of snow and ice can be quite slippery," Tridgell said.
The CTA did not find significant weather-related problems on trains or buses, said spokesman Jonathan Kaplan.