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Storm's effects on Monday travel uncertain

White-out conditions pose a challenge for drivers on

White-out conditions pose a challenge for drivers on the Southern State Parkway near the Meadowbrook Parkway overpass. (Dec. 26, 2010) Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

If Sunday was a day of canceled travel plans, Monday is expected to dawn as a day of uncertainty.

The massive snowstorm that blasted its way up the East Coast prevented more than 1,400 flights from departing New York City's three major airports, and it wasn't clear when operations would return to normal, said Sara Joren, a Port Authority spokeswoman.

At Long Island MacArthur Airport, no flights departed after 2 p.m. Sunday. Flights will not resume until at least noon Monday, spokeswoman Catherine Green said.

The Long Island Rail Road temporarily suspended eastbound service for all but one of its 13 branches late last night. LIRR spokesman Joe Calderone said switches near Jamaica station were freezing up, forcing the cancellation. "We're working on trying to get them operating," Calderone said. "We have switch heaters near Jamaica, but the wind is literally blowing them out each time we relight them."

The railroad had announced earlier in the night that trains would run on a holiday schedule Monday. It was unclear how suspensions would affect that plan. About 400 LIRR employees are working on keeping the tracks clear and the trains running, Calderone said earlier in the evening.

Amtrak canceled trains from New York to Boston Sunday night but did not say how service would be affected Monday.

Among the lucky travelers Sunday were Eric Stone and his Hicksville soccer team of more than a dozen 16-year-old boys. They reached the MacArthur Airport terminal before noon to take a 1:50 p.m. flight to Orlando. The flight turned out to be the last one of the day leaving the airport.

Stone said his son and the other boys had planned the trip to Disney World for months for an event in which they would play teams from all over the country.

"The boys would have been crushed because they've worked very, very hard for this," said Stone's wife, Sharon.

But Paul Reynolds of Chicago wasn't as lucky. The power-tools salesman and his family are planning to move to Port Jefferson, and Reynolds said he had to get home before the moving truck showed up on Wednesday. "I just called my wife," he said. "I'm going to be here at least another day."

At Kennedy Airport, AirTrain service was canceled about 8 p.m. At the American Airlines terminal Sunday afternoon, passengers sprawled out on the floor with their bags while a long line choked a row of ticket counters. An announcement was made that all American Airlines departures were canceled for the rest of the day.

Some travelers were trying to make the best of their chances to get ahead of the storm.

Denise Saunders, a high school counselor from Deer Park, arrived at MacArthur Sunday morning intent on making her 8 a.m. flight Monday to visit her family in Charlotte, N.C.

"I came 24 hours ahead," Saunders said. "I came prepared to have to stay here overnight."

With Ted Phillips

and Michael Amon

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