Plane Slides Off Icy Taxiway as Intense Winter Storm Continues to Muck Up Thanksgiving Travel

Ron Brackett
Published: December 1, 2019
Blizzard conditions stopped traffic on Interstate 90 near Rapid City, South Dakota, Saturday evening.
(South Dakota Department of Transportation)

This article is no longer being updated. Find the latest on the winter storm here

A Delta Air Lines jet slid off a taxiway in Buffalo on Sunday as a winter storm continued to batter much of the United States closing interstates and delaying or canceling hundreds of flights.

More than 91,000 customers were without electricity in Michigan and Wisconsin as of 2:45 p.m. Sunday, according to Another 9,600 Pennsylvania customers had no power.

Several vehicles were involved in a crash Sunday morning on northbound Interstate 81 about 38 miles north of Scranton, Pennsylvania, according to the state Transportation Department. Crashes were also reported on Interstate 80 southwest of Williamsport. An overturned tractor-trailer closed westbound lanes of I-80 in Knowlton Township, New Jersey.

PennDOT announced that speeds would be limited to 45 mph on several interstates on Monday because of the weather.

Ice on the road closed Interstate 86 in both directions between Exit 59 and Exit 56 in Chemung, New York, and at Exit 46 in Corning, the Department of Transportation reported. At least 10 vehicles were involved in a crash on southbound I-81 near Chenango, the DOT reported. More than a dozen crashes were reported on Interstate 90 from Niagra Falls to Syracuse.

A Delta Air Lines aircraft slid off a taxiway after landing at Buffalo Niagara International Airport about 8:30 a.m. Sunday, WKBW reported. No injuries were reported, but the plane's wheel was stuck for a time.

"For lack of a better word, the plane fishtailed,” Joseph E. Guarino, airfield superintendent, told the Buffalo News.

Guarino said the plane's 72 passengers were evacuated down the airplane's stairs and taken by bus to the terminal.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo placed National Guard personnel on standby and activated the state's Emergency Operations Center.

"This storm has the potential to cause significant problems as many New Yorkers return from the Thanksgiving holiday today and commute to work tomorrow," Cuomo said in a statement. "Snow, black ice, rain and wind are a bad combination — but this isn't our first rodeo and we pre-deployed significant state assets and personnel to prepare for the storm and maintain the roads."

In Kingston, Ontario, which is north of Syracuse, a crash involving about 30 vehicles durijng whiteout conditions closed down westbound lanes of Highway 401, CTV News reported. There were reports of serious injuries.

In Massachusetts, several districts announced schools would be closed Monday because of what the National Weather Service called a “long duration, messy event." The State Police reduced the speed limit on Interstate 90 to 40 mph from the New York border to Westborough.

Roadways remained closed for much of the day across the Midwest, including parts of Interstate 80 in Nebraska and Wyoming and Interstate 76 in Colorado. A 100-mile section of I-80 in Nebraska and Wyoming closed Saturday morning because of high winds and blowing snow. It was reopened about 11:30 a.m. Sunday. Interstate 90 in South Dakota was reopened, but the Transportation Department still advised people to no travel.

Most highways in Minnesota were covered with snow, the state's Department of Transportation reported Sunday morning. A portion of Interstate 35 near Esko, Minnesota, was closed. The National Weather Service office in Duluth said numerous vehicles were stuck in snow drifts. More than 19 inches of snow had fallen in Duluth as of 6 a.m., the NWS said.

The Minnesota State Patrol said that from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, it tallied 187 crashes, with 21 injuries and no deaths, the Star Tribune reported. Three semitrailer trucks jackknifed and more than 300 vehicles spun out or ran off the road.

More than 900 flights were delayed and 560 flights were canceled about 1:15 p.m. Sunday, according to On Saturday, more than 7,300 flights were canceled or delayed.

Winter Storm Ezekiel was affecting more than 30 states on Sunday.

(MORE: Winter Storm Moving Into the Northeast; Here's When and Where to Expect the Worst

Weather is being looked at as a possible cause in the crash of a small-engine plane on Saturday in South Dakota. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said the crash happened as major winter weather barreled through the region.

Nine people were killed when the Pilatus PC-12 carrying 12 people crashed about 12:30 p.m., shortly after taking off from Chamberlain, about 140 miles west of Sioux Falls, according to The Associated Press. Peter Knudson of the National Transportation Safety Board said weather would be among several factors reviewed by NTSB investigators, but no cause had yet been determined.

The Rapid City, South Dakota, airport closed Saturday afternoon after visibility dropped so low that crews were unable to plow and use equipment.

One person was killed in a rollover accident near Cavour, South Dakota, or just northwest of Sioux Falls, early Friday. The pickup truck lost control on an ice covered road and went into a ditch and rolled. Both people in the truck had to be removed from the truck by authorities, but neither were wearing seat belts, according to KELO.

A crash on Interstate 15 near Willard, Utah, killed one person Wednesday morning when the car slid off the road, the Deseret News reported.

Authorities in Arizona found the bodies of two young children, and a third child was missing, after a vehicle was swept away while attempting to cross a runoff-swollen creek in Tonto National Forest on Friday, AP reported.

In addition, AP reported, two boys, ages 5 and 8, died Saturday near Patton, Missouri, when the vehicle they were riding in was swept off flooded roads. A 48-year-old man died in a separate incident near Sedgewickville, Missouri, according to AP.

In Minnesota, two lanes of I-94 near Moorhead was closed Saturday afternoon after a multivehicle accident involving at least one semitrailer.

Farther east, the city of Duluth, Minnesota, issued a "no travel advisory" beginning Saturday afternoon, according to AP. The National Weather Service reported blizzard conditions at the head of Lake Superior with snow falling at a rate of 1 inch per hour and winds gusting above 50 mph. NWS said huge waves were crashing onshore causing lake shore flooding.

Western Impacts

Tusayan, Arizona, declared a state of emergency because of heavy snow and lack of electricity Friday. Tusayan is located near the Grand Canyon National Park where over a foot of snow has been measured.

Crews clearing vehicles from the Southern California mountains.
(Twitter: @CHPFortTejon)

A shelter was setup in the Grand Canyon National Park to assist the more than 1,000 people who had not had heat or power since early Friday. Roads were reported to be impassable and there are fuel shortages.

Parts of Interstate 40 and Interstate 17 were closed south of Flagstaff, Arizona, in both directions early Friday due to heavy snow in the higher elevations, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. Several other roads were closed Friday morning in northern Arizona due to snow. The interstates were reopened midday Friday.

The Flagstaff area reported 8 to 12 inches of snowfall as of early Friday, with 15 inches measured at the Grand Canyon (South Rim).

In California, a portion of Interstate 5 from Grapevine to Castaic through Tejon Pass closed Thursday morning as heavy snow swept through the higher elevations. Snow gates were opened on I-5 near Santa Clarita to force northbound cars back southbound and down in elevation. Southbound lanes fully reopened Thursday afternoon.

The unusually intense winter storm downed trees, knocked out power and closed highways in parts of California Wednesday.

Motorists on Interstate 5 in Northern California reported being stuck on the road for hours and some spent the night in their cars, The Associated Press reported.

The California Department of Transportation and California Highway Patrol work to reopen a stretch of Interstate 5 in the northern part of the state on Wednesday, Nov. 27. 2019, after a winter storm caused multiple motor vehicle accidents and traffic backups.
(Caltrans District 2 via Twitter)

Christina Williams of Portland, Oregon, told the AP that it took her and her 13-year-son 17 hours to reach Redding, California, a journey that would normally take 10 hours.

Williams told the AP she and other stranded drivers used weather-related hashtags to connect on the social media platform Twitter and share information on road conditions. Williams described “spin-outs everywhere” and abandoned trucks.

"There were spin-outs everywhere, there were trucks that were abandoned and every time we stopped and started moving again, there were people who couldn't start moving again," she said. "Every time we stopped I was like, is this it? Are we going to be here overnight?"

About 100 miles of Interstate 5 between Yreka and Redding near the Oregon border was closed Tuesday night and into early Wednesday morning due to multiple vehicle spinouts, according to the California Department of Transportation. The southbound lanes reopened Wednesday morning. The northbound lanes reopened heading from Redding, California, all the way to the Oregon border Wednesday evening.

Authorities were working to remove "the extremely large number of vehicles" off the road.

The southbound portion of the interstate was also shut down from Ashland, Oregon, due to the conditions in Northern California, but has reopened.

The westbound lanes of Interstate 80 between Truckee and Nyack were also closed Wednesday morning due to multiple spinouts, the California Highway Patrol said. The roadway later reopened to passenger vehicles only.

The Placer County Sheriff's Office posted video of whiteout conditions in North Lake Tahoe.

Several other state highways in Northern California were closed or down to one lane overnight and into Wednesday morning due to snow, ice or trees blocking the roadway, Caltrans said. Highway 20 in Nevada County was closed near the intersection of I-80 due to whiteout conditions and excessive snow, and Highway 49 was closed between Downieville and Sattley in Sierra County.

More than 76,000 homes and businesses were without power in California Wednesday morning, according to Many of the outages were caused by high winds.

The storm met the criteria for a bomb cyclone as it moved toward the coasts of Northern California and southern Oregon on Tuesday, meaning its pressure dropped rapidly. The Weather Channel has named the system Winter Storm Ezekiel.

The storm's impacts started Tuesday and continued overnight, with snow, rain and heavy winds.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.