How Will Winter Storm Europa Affect Flights? It Could Get Messy

Joshua Lott/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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Because holiday travel isn't crazy enough with insane TSA lines and mass confusion, the universe threw in a winter storm to muck things up even further. Winter Storm Europa is set to dump snow, sleet and ice on the Northeast and thunderstorms all the way from the Great Lakes to Texas. But how will Winter Storm Europa affect flights? It could make messy holiday travel even messier.

The Guardian estimates that millions could face travel complications as Winter Storm Europa, and though most of the snags are with road closures due to rain and ice, airlines are prepping for some delays. Earlier this week in Appleton, Wisconsin, a flight carrying the Minnesota Vikings slid off of the icy runway, but things are about to get even worse.

The National Weather Service warned that once the storm exits the Rockies and hits the Great Plains, the low pressure will create strong winds, estimated around 60 mph, that could make travel hazardous for the northern-tier states.

But travel conditions could be affected across the country. The National Weather Service said that flights out of Houston — which has two busy airports — could be delayed by thunderstorms that Winter Storm Europa will bring to Texas. Additionally, the National Weather Service warned that Minneapolis could face delays due to wind.

Joshua Lott/Getty Images News/Getty Images
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 23 : Travelers wait in line to check-in for flights at O'Hare International Airport on December 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. O'hare International Airport is one of the busiest hubs in the nation during the weeks surrounding Christmas and New Years. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

Still, the major travel snafus are going to be with road closures. Highways in the Dakotas and Wyoming have closed, and a snow emergency has been declared in Bismarck, North Dakota. And in Arizona, a family had to be rescued after they became stranded in the snow on a forest road while they were trying to reach the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is closed in the winter. The couple and their 10-year-old son were rescued and treated for extreme cold exposure.

And the nasty weather will continue into 2017. Early next week, forecasters predict that Winter Storm Europa will bring snow, rain and sleet to the Northeast. So that's a good way to start off the new year! Maybe check your New Year's Eve plans and have a back-up ready to go.

So stay safe, pay attention to road conditions, and — if you're flying — maybe get to the airport a little bit earlier than usual. Because it wouldn't be holiday travel without at least one of your family members missing a flight and staying longer than expected. Just don't let it be you.