Storm causes big trouble for Thanksgiving travelers

On the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday getaway, there is trouble for travelers.

A storm system that began in the West last week is now heading into the Northeast with rain, wind, snow and ice.

The storm has caused the cancellation of more than 1,300 flights so far. CBS News
Some 1,300 flights have been canceled since the weekend. Many travelers who were looking to make to an early escape ended up stuck for hours at the airport.

The massive storm, which covers much of the country, is being blamed for at least 11 deaths.

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the world's busiest airport. It's also headquarters for Delta Airlines, which on Tuesday had to deal with the weather that's snarling air traffic from the Southeast all the way up to New England.

Delta Airlines will fly 1 million passengers on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We control the entire operation of Delta Airlines from within this facility," said Dave Holtz, vice-president of operations control.

Asked what Tuesday was like, Holtz said, "It's busy, it's busy. Green is not good, green is precipitation. It's rain in this case."

The more than 1,300 flight cancellations caused by the storm, already twice as many as last year’s holiday rush. Airlines are also warning passengers to expect delays.

Storm to make for icy roads on busiest travel day of the year
 "We've got a roomful of experts here that have figured out how to get ahead of it for the customer.  Delay's aren't necessarily bad for a customer if you tell them about it 24 hours early and they can plan accordingly," said Holtz.

The concern heading into Wednesday is the ripple effect.  If snow and ice affect travel in the Northeast,  that could impact flights at airports nationwide.

Some 3 million people are expected to fly, and about 12 times as many people will drive for the holiday.

From the South to the Northeast, freezing rain, ice and snow are coating the nation’s highways.

It's a potentially dangerous holiday mix of trouble for travelers like Amanda Southard in Laurel County, Ky.

"Kinda pretty slick coming out earlier," she said. "You could hardly see. It was kind of blinding."

With the storm

Where is the winter storm system headed?
heading east, salt trucks have been on the roads ahead of the 39 million people AAA spokesman Lon Anderson expects to drive over the next five days.

"It's going to be very crowded, very slow and it's really going to require an attitude adjustment because you know the time you thought you might be able to make, you're not going to be able to," Anderson said.

Wednesday will be the busiest day of the year on the roads, just as the storm is expected to intensify in some areas.
A satellite image shows the storm covering much of the United States on Tuesday. CBS News

Eric Fisher, chief meteorologist for CBS station WBZ in Boston, said the storm was heading up the Eastern Seaboard. The Interstate 95 corridor was seeing heavy rain Tuesday evening, will the precipitation expected to continue into Wednesday.

By Wednesday night, Fisher said, the storm will be over, but it may leave behind problems such as possible power outages -- and a lot of snow to shovel.

"The snow will be significant in many areas, especially western New York, Rochester to the Finger lakes through the Buffalo region," Fisher said.

Thursday morning is expected to be cold and windy, with winter temperatures returning.