Update, 11:50 a.m.: Two runways at Sea-Tac are open for arriving and departing flights.
Earlier: The air travel nightmare is beginning to abate this morning as maintenance crews cleared one runway and one taxiway at Sea-Tac Airport.
The airport was closed completely for several hours this morning as crews worked to remove the ice coatings from the hard surfaces at the airport.
Those closures created mayhem with flight schedules. A great majority of flights were simply canceled. Others were marked for long delays, some as long an hour. A few optimistically appeared on the departure boards as on-time, but the conditions outside, a freezing drizzle that coated planes, taxiways and runways, scotched those predictions.
The airport now is working on getting the backlog of flights into the air.
Other flights are now arriving. Some diverted to other airports while crews worked on clearing the runways.
Alaska Airlines, the airport’s largest user, canceled all flights until 10 a.m. except those destined for Hawaii, Mexico, the East Coast or the Midwest. The airline said it may cancel more flights depending on the weather as the day moves forward.
This morning’s snarl followed Wednesday’s snow storm that likewise kept planes on the ground or made their departures long-delayed events.
If temperatures warm as the day progresses, and crews make headway on the runways, the airport could once again return to some semblance of normalcy. But even if the weather breaks later this morning, the early morning cancellations and delays will domino through Sea-Tac’s schedule throughout the day as early morning cancellations and postponements affect subsequent arrivals and departures.
The airport and its airlines are advising passengers to keep in contact to see if and when their flights will depart.
Two sources on the net for schedule updates: Sea-Tac’s own schedule update site at http://www.portseattle.org/Sea-Tac/Pages/default.aspx or FlightStats.com, www.flightstats.com
Most airlines are offering passengers fee-free rebooking because of the weather-induced disruptions.