What a snowstorm didn’t accomplish directly, it managed to get done anyway by slicking up a runway.
The storm warnings began already on Wednesday, with meteorologists telling travelers that Thursday would likely be wet and white. By Thursday morning, New York’s LaGuardia International Airport was all but paralyzed as snow and ice turned the runways into skating rinks. Freezing rain, thick fog and a slick surface faced the pilot on Delta Flight #1086 as he approached the snowy airport.
As the landing gear touched down and the wheels tried to lock on to the runway, passengers told television viewers on CNN they felt the plane slide to the left, veering off the runway upon its arrival from Atlanta, Georgia around 11 am local time.
The aircraft ground into a snowbank after having smashed through a security fence, finally coming to a halt just a few feet away from the water.
Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye said the runway had been plowed shortly before the incident.
The flight carried 127 passengers in addition to five crew members. At least 24 people were slightly injured in the crash; three were taken to an area hospital. A fuel leak on the left wing of the plane was stopped by fire crews.
Two runways were shut down immediately; as of 9 pm local time, only one runway was operational in the airport.
Nearly 900 flights were canceled and travelers with flights either departing from or arriving at LaGuardia were advised to check their flight status before setting out.