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In this winter that has already brought some crazy cold weather to parts of the United States, there is now a Winter Storm Warning complete with predictions of possible snow and ice for….Houston. Yup, that coastal city we live in near the Gulf of Mexico in Texas that often sees temperatures hit 110 degrees in the summer. Now, forecasters and computers in these parts have a history of getting “overly excited” about the possibility of winter precipitation, but it does seem to look likely that at least something will come out of this Winter Storm Warning for some parts of Houston and surrounding areas (especially to the north of Houston) beginning late tonight and into early Friday.
Because of this United has issued a weather waiver for January 23rd and 24th for the following airports:
- Houston, TX (IAH)
- Austin, TX (AUS)
- San Antonio, TX (SAT)
What this weather waiver means:
- Fees for same-day flight changes are waived within 24 hours of original departure.
- For all other changes, the change fee will be waived, but a difference in fare may apply.
This storm may not be enough to cause any major disruption, but it doesn’t take much for things to get a big bogged down around here as folks have virtually no experience driving in icy/snowy conditions, and we don’t have near the infrastructure to deal with winter storms as parts of the country that get them on a regular basis. Basically we all just sit inside for a day or so until it all passes.
What does this have to do with travel? Well, potentially a fair amount if you planned on transiting a Houston airport late tonight or especially early Friday morning. For those not up-to-date on their Houston geography, Hobby Airport is further to the south and is really pretty close to the coast where the temperatures generally stay a bit warmer. IAH is located in the northern part of the city where temperatures tend to get a few degrees colder. If we actually do get some wintery mix that extends far enough south to impact one of the airports, then expect at least some delays.
We do have de-icing equipment here, but I’m sure we don’t have the volume of equipment that you would see at an airport that deals with this on a regular basis. Even if the conditions at the airports are pretty good, the crews have to be able to drive from their houses to the airport in order to make the planes fly. That process may take longer than normal in the morning if the road conditions in the surrounding areas aren’t great.
If you have the ability to route your flights in a way that avoids IAH late tonight, or especially early tomorrow, that would be the safest course of action. Otherwise, just hope the forecasters were overly ambitions when they got the school kids’ hopes up that there might be some wintery stuff by the time the sun rises on Friday morning.
To give you an idea of how rare this sort of thing is in Houston, many of the pre-schools in the area (including ours) have an annual “Snow Day” where they pay some ca$h to buy snow for the kids to play in. I’m sure those kids are crossing their fingers for a real snow/ice day tomorrow.