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Winter storm dumps snow, rain on Northeast, snarls airline flights

More than 2,000 flights have been canceled, and more than 200,000 customers are without power in several southern states as the impact of severe winter weather was felt across the nation. NBC's Eric Fisher reports.

A winter storm swept into the Northeast on Thursday, bringing up to 21 inches of snow, drenching rain – and a new round of travel headaches.

By late afternoon, more than 1,000 flights had been canceled, and more than 8,000 were delayed, according to FlightStats.com, frustrating thousands of stranded passengers.

At Philadelphia International Airport, assistant principal Tomorrow Jenkins was desperate to get to Orlando, Fla., where her high school’s band was slated to perform at a Rutgers University bowl game Friday.

Her flight had been delayed and canceled, and she missed a connection. “I’m a little anxious,” she told NBCPhiladelphia.com at the airport, where dozens of flights were scrapped on Thursday.

Passengers on a Southwest Airlines jet bound for Florida from Long Island faced an unexpected wait after the Boeing 737 went off the runway and got stuck in the grass. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said officials were investigating if wet weather was a factor in the mishap, which caused no injuries.

An American Airlines flight that landed safely in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night got stuck in snow for about two hours on the tarmac, The Associated Press reported. 

The Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, where all flights had been grounded until Wednesday afternoon after the storm passed, still had two dozen cancellations on the board.

It won't be a blockbuster snowfall, but most of the big cities in the Northeast will get one to three inches of snow. The Weather Channel's Chris Warren reports.

Read more at weather.com

A passenger who had been stuck on a plane at the gate there for three hours on Christmas night recorded an American Airlines pilot apologizing for the situation.

“I've made more personal phone calls than I know what to do with,” the pilot said in an audio recording obtained by WFAA-TV.

“I've spent my last quarter, to be honest with you. It's beyond reproach. I have no words to tell you... to tell you how sorry I am. This is way above our heads... by people that obviously, in my humble opinion, don't have a clue what they're doing,” said the pilot.

The airline said in a statement that it "was obviously a very challenging day" and apologized for any inconvenience.

The weather system, which developed just before Christmas, has already spawned twisters, high winds, icy roads, and record snowfall in the nation’s midsection, where it was blamed for a dozen deaths.

The Weather Channel's Eric Fisher reports from Lewiston, Maine, where snow is rapidly accumulating. The winter storm, which traveled from Texas up through the Midwest, is threatening to dump up to 2 feet of snow on parts of the Northeast.

On Thursday, it blanketed towns from Pennsylvania to Maine in white.

Woodford, Vt., got socked with 21 inches of snow -- the highest total of the storm so far. In Edwards, N.Y., 16 inches fell. Coudersport, Pa., saw 15 inches; Windsor, Mass., got 13.4 inches; and Lebanon, Maine, had a foot, the National Weather Service reported.

Where there wasn’t snow, there was rain. In New Jersey, flooding and high winds forced the closure of parts of Brick Township, local officials told the Weather Channel's Mike Seidel.

Thursday brought mostly rain to New York City, Philadelphia and Boston, but that could change this weekend. The Weather Channel’s Tom Niziol said a new system could dump up to four inches of snow on the major Northeast cities.

The Weather Channel's Michael Palmer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

On one of the busiest travel days of the year, bad weather has forced airlines to cancel or delay flights. NBC's Katy Tur reports.

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