Page last updated at 11:02 GMT, Thursday, 25 December 2008

Snow causes N America travel woe

Vancouver airport in Richmond, British Colombia, Canada on 24/12/08
Flights in Vancouver remained grounded on Christmas Eve

Thousands of holiday travellers in the United States and Canada are struggling to make it to their destinations after heavy snow brought travel chaos.

Some faced spending their Christmas Day at Chicago airport after hundreds of flights were cancelled on Tuesday and Wednesday due to bad weather.

Rail services and highways have also been badly affected.

Large parts of western US have been affected, and meteorologists forecast more snow and storms to come.

Canada is expected to receive a coast-to-coast white Christmas for the first time in 37 years.

Air Canada was forced to cancel its short and medium-haul flights out of Vancouver on Wednesday because of the snowy conditions.

Picks and shovels

Around 500 travellers spent Tuesday night at Chicago's O'Hare international airport - the country's second busiest airport - after some 500 flights were cancelled.

More than 100 flights were cancelled on Christmas Eve, and the city's aviation department said it had requested 75 temporary beds for stranded passengers.

Passenger with her wrapped Christmas presents waits at the American Airlines ticket counter at Chicago's O'Hare airport on 24/12/08
Some 500 passengers have been stranded at Chicago airport

One American Airlines plane slid off the runway on to the grass on Wednesday, although no-one was injured.

Weather problems at several other airports had led to a ripple effect across the country, with delays from San Francisco and Dallas to Boston and New York.

And rail services were also hit badly, with hundreds of passengers facing delays of up to 24 hours.

Operator Amtrak said its crews in some cities had headed out with picks and shovels to clear snow-covered track switches.

On the roads, at least 30 deaths have been blamed on the weather, the Associated Press reports.

On Wednesday two men died in an avalanche in the Rocky Mountains in the state of Utah

Meteorologists warn that more bad weather is to come - with up to nine inches (22cm) of snow forecast for Portland, Oregon.

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