ST. LOUIS – Flight delays and cancellations stacked up Thursday at Lambert International Airport with an intense winter weather system sweeping through St. Louis and much of the United States.

The airport remained open with some planes still taking off and landing.  However, most flights scheduled for Thursday night were either delayed or canceled because of issues away from St. Louis.   

Planes are moving slowly at St. Louis-Lambert International Airport in St. Louis on Thursday, December 22, 2022. Below zero temperatures with 20 miles per hour winds and snow fall cancelled over 30 per cent of the scheduled flights on the day. (Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI)

Extreme cold was the key issue Thursday at Lambert, not the snow, according to Airport Director, Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge.   

“It’s a very dry snow.  That’s easier for the guys to work with because it comes off the runway quite quickly,” said Hamm-Niebruegge. “It’s more freezing of equipment based on these sub-zero temperatures that we’re looking at tonight going into tomorrow. It’s just going to be making sure everybody’s who’s working outside can get inside warm up, get a break.”     

There’s just more to do to get planes in the air in this kind of weather. De-icing crews were coating every plane before departure.

Snowplows also had to clear runways and taxiways.  For the day, overall, she expected 25-30% of all flights to be canceled or delayed, airport wide.   

Mackenzie Bennett, a college student trying to get home to Golden, CO, from Boston, for Christmas. She spent Wednesday night at Lambert Airport.   

”I got here at 10:30 last night. My flight just kept getting delayed.  Finally, it was canceled at 3 in the morning. So, I just spent the night here.  Now, I’m on hold trying to get home, but I’ve had three flights in between that have gotten canceled as well,” Bennett said.  

She left for a hotel Thursday afternoon.  She was booked on a flight for Denver at 5 a.m. Friday morning, hoping that it would not be canceled like the others.

Temperatures will drop below zero degrees at the airport overnight, while officials have also reported 1.4 inches of snow from the site.