Surviving Winter Travel Weather!

December 3, 2015
Winter Flying

Aaaah! The joys of traveling in winter weather.


Hello Almanac readers, Do you know what Old Farmers really do in the winter?

They travel to agricultural conventions. The harvests are over, hotel rates are low, and crop conventions allow them to see old friends and learn a few useful facts. And—since we are speakers at these conventions—we get to experience the joys of winter travel. 

A lot of you will also be travelling this winter, visiting your loved ones on the holidays or maybe visiting the slopes for some skiing. Let us, in the spirit of holiday giving, share some of our top winter travel tips. After all, we are in this together (frequently wedged in narrow airplane seats beside each other).

First: If you can fly non-stop, do so in the wintertime! If not, remember that El Niños shift the mid-winter storms south.

  • Yes, in fall and spring, it is smarter to choose your connections through southern airports like Dallas/Fort Worth to avoid snow delays.
  • In mid-winter, however, during El Niños, northern terminals have quieter weather and the southern tier of states usually have more storms. 

Remember that El Niños move the stormiest weather south. Source: NOAA

Second: Weather problems in one airport trigger delays throughout the system so fly early in the day.

  • The earlier you fly, fewer of these cascading delays will hit you.
  • Also, give yourself a longer than average time between connections. De-icing can make your flight depart one to two hours late and it’s better to spend a few hours reading in an airport than miss your connection and spend those hours trying to book a new flight.

Third: Bad weather and travelers on canceled flight trying to get new flights means planes can be overbooked. If you have assigned seats and check in by computer 24 hours early, you have less risk of being bumped. 

Remember, de-icing an airplane can add hours to travel. Source: Steve Torquay, Wikimedia

Finally: Start checking the weather reports for your airports, including connecting terminals two to three days before the flight.

Get the Twitter and follow your airline! If you see the flight is at risk for cancellation, check the Twitter feed frequently. The earlier you learn of a cancelled flight, the more likely you can get rebooked.

We love interesting weather, but here’s hoping your travel weather is boring this winter!

About This Blog

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to “Weather Whispers” by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these articles. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.