Sea-Tac open for business after day of cancellations

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All runways at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were open Friday morning after hundreds of flights were canceled due to icy conditions.

Port of Seattle spokesperson Perry Cooper said the airport does not expect operational impacts Friday, but a backlog of passengers and flights may cause delays for specific airlines.

Sea-Tac had to shut down early Thursday when a major ice storm covered the region. It was the airport's first closure in at least a decade.

“This is an extremely rare event,” Port of Seattle spokeswoman Carla Skaggs said. “I can’t remember this happening in the last 10 years.”

The airport's three runways opened later, but there were major delays and cancellations.

Some passengers had been at the airport since 4 a.m. Thursday and were still waiting for flights Thursday night. 

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air said the freezing rain and snow forced the carriers to cancel 310 flights affecting 29,000 passengers. Only 15 of Alaska's 114 daily flights and one Horizon flight had departed Seattle on Thursday.

"We are doing our best to operate as many flights as possible to get people where they need to go as we cope with severe ice accumulation on our planes," Alaska Airlines' president Brad Tilden said. "We appreciate customers' patience and understanding as we contend with the freezing rain that has disrupted travel throughout the region."

Crews worked through the night to de-ice the airport’s three runways, but their efforts were hindered by freezing rain.

Skaggs said travelers should check with the Port of Seattle or their airline for flight status information.

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air said in a statement, "Weather reports forecast freezing rain until midnight with rain expected tomorrow (Friday). If that holds true, the carriers expect to return to mostly normal operations on Friday, however, the forecasts have been changing frequently."

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