News / Economy

Weather Playing Havoc with Holiday Travel

Travelers wait in line to check in as they prepare to travel to Cuba at Miami International Airport in Miami, 23 Dec 2010
Travelers wait in line to check in as they prepare to travel to Cuba at Miami International Airport in Miami, 23 Dec 2010


Travelers around the world are being besieged by all kinds of problems this Christmas season: snow, mudslides and even terror threats.

Snow in Western Europe has meant a beautiful white Christmas for some people, but travel delays for many others.

The main airport in Paris was running short of de-icing liquid. Many planes could not get off the ground, leaving desperate passengers stranded on the Christmas Eve.

Some unlucky travelers were still stuck at the airport on Friday morning. One Mexican woman said she had been waiting for a flight to Geneva since Thursday. She slept the night with her young child at the airport.

An Italian traveller, Ramona Sansotta, said her flight had already been cancelled twice.

"We hope to get back home before Christmas," said Sansotta.

Snow and ice also disrupted Brussels airport in Belgium.  Richard and Kathy Broughton were trying to get home to the US.

"Our kids are over there, all the rest of the family are there," said Broughton.  "But not us this time. Oh well, Merry Christmas. The Christmas that wasn't."

But snow was not bothering everyone in the world.

China's landmark national stadium in Beijing was transformed into a winter wonderland with artificial snow: more than 25,000 tons of it.

"This is the first time I have seen snow," said student Li Yanxiao.

But in the United States the weather was playing a dirty game on California. Instead of clean, white snow, people there were facing dirty mudslides.

In Highland, California, people were chased from their homes by tides of mud and water, leaving behind homes strung with holiday lights.

The tough task was to dig out vehicles stuck in the mud. Bill Peters works for the state's Forestry and Fire Protection Department.

"You've got to dig out," said Bill Peters.  "You've got to put it on a truck, you've got to dump it, you've got to come back. It becomes a 24-7 process."

Overall, millions of Americans are braving cold weather and snow and traveling 80 kilometers or more by car or by air to be with their families for Christmas.

Passengers traveling by air face a new security alert. Airport screeners are extra-focused on thermos-type insulated beverage containers.

Security agents say there is no specific terror plot, but they are concerned.

Meanwhile, those traveling by car or truck are paying more for gas, 75 cents a liter ($3 a gallon). The national average has never been that high at Christmas-time.

Still, the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that 9 out of 10 Americans will travel by car and almost three million will fly.

"During challenging economic times there is a battle between the heartstrings and the purse strings when it comes to time to visit family and friends during the holidays and usually the heartstrings will win out," said Troy Green of AAA.

You May Like

Video Obama: Action on Climate Change 'Economic, Security Imperative'

President spoke to reporters on sidelines of UN Climate Summit outside Paris, where leaders are working to agree on binding measures

IMF Bets on China’s Resolve to Reform

IMF announcement already raising questions about just how much Beijing is committed to such reforms

UNICEF: Hidden Epidemic of HIV Among Adolescents

Researchers warn that Asia Pacific nations facing sharp rise in incidence of HIV among adolescents

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies


Rates may not be current.