The unusual weather at Dallas Airport is just the first of several weather-impacted delays to sweep the country in the coming months.
Heidi Hughes, a grandmother from Albuquerque, vows to never again step foot in the Metroplex.
“It is outrageous,” said Hughes, who was stranded in the area for two nights along with her son, Chris, and 6-year-old granddaughter, Tylie, because of flight cancellations.
The three have already missed a special Air Force ceremony for Hughes’ other son in Little Rock. On Saturday afternoon, they were just trying to get back home.
“I think I’m going to have to be ready for more, and I might have to stay here a third night,” Hughes said. “I’m really upset about that. I’ll never come to Dallas again if I can help it.”
Hughes was one of thousands of weary passengers who remained stranded on Day 3 of an ice storm that has brought North Texas to a virtual standstill.
On Saturday, airlines had canceled more than 400 flights, on top of more than 1,000 Thursday and Friday.
Between 3,000 and 4,000 passengers spent the night in chairs or cots at DFW on Friday night.
Two runways remained open Saturday, and crews worked to clear others and keep taxiways and ramps open.
Roads to and from the airport were still icy and were expected to become more treacherous after dark.
While taxis are still providing limited service, DFW officials say passengers should expect to wait about 15 minutes for rides because of the poor driving conditions.
Frustrated passengers were eager to share their stories.
Rick Nelson of Dallas was trying to make it to a business meeting in Tokyo for the second day in a row. He was standing in a line in Terminal C that wrapped around the lobby area.
“This meeting has been scheduled over a month ago,” he said. “I really need to make it.”
Earline Gumm of Fort Worth had just arrived from Los Angeles after spending two weeks on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. But she said the ground transportation she had arranged to her home was canceled, so she was staying in a hotel Saturday night.
“We should have stayed another day in Kauai,” she said. “There, it was beautiful and then we come home to this.”
DFW workers provided coffee, water and snacks to travelers. On Saturday, jugglers, illustrators, balloon artists and other entertainers were in the terminals to help keep people smiling.
“We are kind of helping everyone with their long waits in line,” said Martha Watson, a Dallas artist who was completing a caricature of Tylie Hughes, Hughes’ granddaughter.
Smiling ear to ear, 7-year-old Landon Harlin of Las Colinas also posed as artist Chris Galvin of Arlington drew his portrait.
Nearby watched his mother, Jana Sayman, who was visiting the airport in the hope of meeting her sister and brother-in-law during a layover from Denver. The couple was expecting to head to Costa Rica on Friday.
“We’re here waiting for them,” Sayman said. “We haven’t seen them.”
(c)2013 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Distributed by MCT Information Services.
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Photo credit: Motorists drive slowly on N. Sylvania Ave. after an overnight ice storm in Fort Worth, Texas, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. David Kent / Fort Worth Star-Telegram