CLEVELAND — Laurie and Eric Parish were just like hundreds of other Northeast Ohioans who were hoping to leave all the snow-winter weather over the past two days but quickly found out they were faced with a flight cancellation at Hopkins International Airport.
The slow, but steady long-term snowfall on Thursday caused nearly every flight at Hopkins to be canceled over more than an 18-hour period, with only Delta Airlines managing a few flights in and out of Cleveland.
The couple was trying to fly to Las Vegas on Frontier Airlines but found the trip to the airport and their canceled flight to be a challenge they hope other travelers can avoid.
“The drive to the airport was slippery, icy, actually a car in front of us kind of spun-out," Eric Parish said. “We were very excited to get out of here soon, we were looking forward to no snow.”
“Our flight was eventually supposed to leave at 10:30 but they canceled this flight and put us on a 7:30 flight,” Laurie Parish said. “Then we found out our flight was canceled. They gave us a full refund, but we did not get a notification that it was closed, that they canceled our flight."
Khalid Bahhur, Cleveland Commissioner of Airports, told News 5 his snow removal team was able to keep all runways open, with only having to cycle a shutdown of small sections of the airport for a matter of minutes to make a quick clean-up.
“It’s part of protocol, we typically shrink the airfield, so we close pavement, and then we open pavement as needed," Bahhur said. “For example, we may close a taxiway, address it, then reopen it a few minutes later."
“That’s not something that I can't predict whether or not we’re going to close the airport down. Again, as a safety protocol, safe airports close.”
Meanwhile, the Ohio Turnpike Commission reported it had all 93 of its plow trucks in operation on Thursday, allowing it to plow the entire turnpike every hour. Still, Ohio Turnpike Operations Maintenance Engineer Bryan Emery urged drivers to continue to take it slow and give plow operators plenty of room in the coming days.
"Drivers need to slow down," Emery said. “Especially in these types of whiteout conditions, where you do get these heavy accumulations at high rates, blowing and drifting snow makes it difficult to see.”
Laurie and Eric Parish are urging travelers to take extra time getting to the airport, and check on flight status often, especially right before you leave for Hopkins during heavy snow events.
“Double check, triple check, call them, you know, get a hold of somebody, just don’t depend on the email,” Eric Parish said.
"Even though I tried to call, but there was at least a 35 to 45-minute wait," Laurie Parish said. "Wait for the call before you drive."
The latest flight status, TSA wait times, and parking conditions can be found on the Hopkins International Airport website.