How Winter Storm Gia Is Affecting Flights Is Already Disruptive

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The U.S. will be hit with a serious winter storm over the weekend, the Weather Channel reports. Winter Storm Gia is projected coat around half of the continental U.S. with snow, according to Fox News, and as much as 12 inches of snowfall is expected in some major cities. If you're wondering how Winter Storm Gia is affecting flights, the answer is: Significantly.

The Weather Channel reports that in Missouri, a plane at Columbia Regional Airport slid off the runway after landing. There were 80 people on board at the time, ABC 17 reports, but thankfully, none of them were injured in the incident. According to the flight-tracking site FlightAware, 286 flights to, from or in the U.S. were cancelled on Friday, and another 3,392 were delayed.

Looking ahead to the weekend, several airlines have issued warnings to customers regarding more potential flight delays and cancellations. Southwest Airlines says that flights in or out of more than a dozen cities, including Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, Baltimore, and Washington D.C., may face disruptions, delays or cancellations over the weekend. Delta is advising customers flying to or from Kansas City or St. Louis to reschedule, and several airlines — including Southwest, Delta, United and Frontier —  have already offered refunds or waivers for cancelled flights.

The details of these waivers varies depending on the airline and flight. United has rolled out two different Gia-related waivers, while Delta and Frontier are offering one for all affected travelers. Southwest, meanwhile, offers free itinerary changes even when there isn't a winter storm as part of its standard terms and conditions, so anybody scheduled to take a flight in Gia's path can reschedule their flight for free.

The National Weather Service said that over 20 million Americans may be affected by Gia. A 1,500-mile stretch of snow is expected to reach from Denver to New York City, USA Today reports. Kansas City, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Louisville, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Washington and Baltimore are among of the major cities expected to be heavily impacted by the storm, while parts of West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and North Carolina will face less severe effects, according to USA Today.

According to AccuWeather, "a general" three to six inches of snow is expected in the storm's path, but some areas will see around 12 inches of snowfall over the weekend. AccuWeather Meteorologist Bill Deger says that "in much of swath from Missouri to southern Ohio, [the snow] will heavy and wet and a strain to shovel."

"The snow will be wet and clinging in nature," Deger says. "Weak tree limbs may give way under the weight of the snow and lead to sporadic power outages."

According to KSDK, numerous accidents have been reported in Missouri on account of the storm, including 10 within one hour in the Chesterfield region. Parts of Interstate 70, Interstate 55 and Interstate 44 have been temporarily closed as a result, and local police have warned residents to stay off of the roads "unless absolutely necessary," KSDK reports.