Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for Illinois Weather

Friday's travels were seriously complicated by the storms that passed through Chicago in the morning. As you know, flight delays snowball and affect travel and connections all over the country. My trip went something like this:

9:30 AM -- Arrived at University of Illinois Willard Airport in Savoy and returned my snazzy red Camry rental way in advance of the 11:30 AM flight to Chicago on an American Eagle commuter jet.

11:00 AM -- Time to board the plane, but instead we got an announcement that the flight was delayed until 12:30 PM. My Chicago to Denver flight was scheduled for 2:30 but had been delayed to 3:15, so my connection was still okay.

Noon -- Time to board the plane, but instead we got an announcement that the flight was delayed until 1:30 PM. Thank goodness for my new Kindle. I read the first half of Headwind by K.K. Brees during this trip.

We boarded the plane and taxied out to the runway, but on the tarmac the plane stopped and abruptly powered down. We had been told by Chicago ground control to hold until 2:15. I knew there was no chance to make a 3:15 flight, but hoped that my Chicago/Denver flight was also delayed again.

At 2:15 we took off and got to Chicago in excellent time, but then were held up a bit before landing. (Note: I hate circling over an airport way more than taking off, landing, or flying.) Finally landed and taxied almost to the gate....but had to wait just short of the jetway for a while. I think there was no one present to connect the walkway to the plane.

Finally in the airport, I discovered my Denver flight had indeed been delayed...until 4:30. I had a chance to get something to eat, a bacon, egg, and cheese bagel that sat in my stomach like a lump of lead. Headed for my gate and waited...noticed the departure time change again to 4:42 PM. We eventually boarded, taxied, took off and landed in Denver.

The thing is, I travel to Illinois at least twice a year. Sometimes I fly to Indianapolis and drive over, but that has been uncomfortable a time or two because of ground fog. I really hate driving for 2-3 hours in fog.

Other times I go through Chicago so I can fly direct into Champaign. The windy city is never calm, but wind is the least of our problems. The biggest risk throughout Illinois is from violent storms and tornadoes.

One time, my commuter flight was ready to board in Champaign and the tornado sirens went off. Sure enough, we saw the twister touch down in the distance to the west of the airport before we were sent to a lower level to hover under the stairs.

Another time I watched a violent thunderstorm play out in the dark in lightning flashes and roiling, black clouds as our commuter flight skirted the edge of the storm and scooted under the clouds to land. Just as I was walking out the front door to catch a shuttle, the tornado sirens sounded. I was ready to crawl back under those stairs, but the shuttle driver said, "No, come on, we'll outrun it."

I grew up on a farm in central Illinois, so you'd think I'd be used to the weather, just like that shuttle driver. It's not so. I'm afraid of thunderstorms and terrified of tornadoes. In Northern Colorado, we don't get too much of that. That's fine with me.

18 comments:

Jenny said...

I've been to Illinois a few times, and it's a great state...except for the weather! Glad you're back safe and sound.

Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - I know of what you speak, having lived in IL myself. And yes, the weather can be....something else, indeed! We were lucky while we lived there that nothing truly dreadful happened, weather-wise, but we had more than one tornado warning, heavy snowfall, etc..

Heidi Windmiller said...

Oh--I've forgotten about those Illinois days...I when to school in Champaign and then lived in Chicago for a number of years. Sorry to hear about your complications.

ham1299 said...

I'm an Illinois native, and don't remember many tornadoes or anything like that when I was a kid. (But I lived near Chicago, where it's not usually as bad so far as tornadoes go.) But, I went to the University of Illinois, and there was at least one or two tornado that would hit very close by every year.

Which airport in Chicago were you going through? I'm assuming O'Hare, because flying through that one is such a pain. I had a similar experience flying from Moline to New Hampshire. I was scheduled to go through Chicago, but ended up sitting at the airport for at least 4 hours because of some delay through O'Hare. It was crazy!

Karen Walker said...

When I lived in New York it was like this. I'm with you - happy to be in New Mexico, where we only contend with wind once in awhile.
Karen

Name: Luana Krause said...

Flying can be an adventure. I've never visited Illinois, although we drove through on a car trip on our way to Pennsylvania. I was also at O'Hare for a connecting flight. The longest delay I've ever had was at Denver for 8 hours!

Kim said...

Wow, that would freak me out seeing a tornado. I am freaked out by storms anyway. I am from Indiana which has similar weather but never have actually seen a tornado. Scary stuff. Oh, and I am also scared of flying.

TheyCallMeVarmit said...

Sorry for the bad weather...we get pretty much the same crud here in Alabama. Nice post though, have never been to Illinois.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I get bad weather everytime I go to the hairdressers,
I enjoyed your post and here we are a year down the line still doing A to Z.
Yvonne.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

And yet another reason why I hate to fly...

Jeanne said...

I grew up in Illinois and now live in Florida. I don't miss the difficult winters and the tornado season, which is scary. Down here we have hurricanes at times but we have a week's notice to get ready. Tornadoes were scary. The Chicago area was windy and cold, not my favorite weather.

Jemi Fraser said...

Arriving at a destination - but not able to actually get there - has to be so frustrating!!! Glad you made it home safe and sound!

Monti said...

My daughter is a Captain with American Airlines and flies in all of the areas you mentioned. I noticed on her Facebook page she was delayed for quite a while in Chicago on Saturday. Glad you got back to Denver eventually!!!

Monti
NotesAlongTheWay

Susan Oloier said...

I grew up in SE WI, so I know the weather of which you speak. That is why I live in CO now.

pam2spicy said...

I is also for Iowa. It's close enough to Illinois we caught the same weather patterns. We had lots of rolling thunder storms but growing up I can only remember one tornado warning. Had more tornado warnings here in Ft. Collins, CO. hmmm Glad you made it home, Pat

Pam

Betty Craker Henderson said...

There is nothing like dealing with flight delays because of bad weather. Ugh.

Melissa Bradley said...

I live in Chicago and those storms were terrible. I'm glad you made it back safely. I've come close to tornadoes, but fortunately have never been involved in one.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Patricia .. sounds kinda interesting in a masochistic way .. just glad you're safe .. I really am not too keen on storms .. good "I" though .. cheers Hilary