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Published February 03 2012

UPDATED: Fog makes Hector flight plans hazy

FARGO – A combination of dense fog here and a snowstorm in Denver created headaches for would-be travelers at Hector International Airport on Friday.

At least seven flights were canceled or diverted from late Thursday afternoon to early Friday afternoon, stranding many people at the airport, said Shawn Dobberstein, executive director of the Fargo Airport Authority.

One or two airlines had arranged for travelers to go to Minneapolis by bus due to the fog delay, he said.

Jim and Deb Paasch from Jamestown, N.D., were among the many travelers affected by Thursday and Friday’s delays.

The couple drove from Jamestown on Thursday night to make a 7 a.m. flight from Fargo to Minneapolis, where they would then continue on to vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

After six hours of waiting at the airport, they said their son, who lives in Fargo, would be picking them up soon to drive them to Minneapolis. They hoped they’d be able to catch a later flight to Mexico.

“It’s no fun, but what can you do,” Jim Paasch said.

Not far away, Tim Struck was keeping a nervous eye on the status of his return flight to Chicago, which was scheduled to depart in two hours.

In town for business, Struck said he held on to his rental car a little bit longer just in case his flight was affected.

“It hasn’t been delayed yet. That’s a good thing,” he said. “I’m just hoping to get home.”

Dobberstein said the first commercial flight to land since 4:30 p.m. Thursday – a United Airlines flight from Chicago – arrived at about 1:30 p.m. Friday.

Though Fargo remained under a dense fog advisory through Saturday morning, fog and cloud cover started to lift enough on Friday afternoon to make landing possible.

“Things are picking up,” Dobberstein said.

Landing requires a half-mile of visibility and a cloud ceiling of at least 300 feet, Dobberstein said. Fog had reduced visibility to far less than that.

Flights to and from Denver could continue to be delayed or canceled through Sunday because of a snowstorm there, he said.

More than 600 flights were canceled at Denver International Airport on Friday, according to a message posted on the airport’s website.

At least a half a dozen flights scheduled to take off and another five arrivals at the airport in Grand Forks were also canceled on Friday, officials said.

Fog should start to lift in Fargo around noon today, the National Weather Service says. The rest of the day is forecast to be partly sunny with a high of 32.

In Denver, snowfall is expected to stop late Saturday morning, with a total accumulation of 9-15 inches possible, the NWS said.

To check the status of an arrival or departure from Hector, go online to www.fargoairport.com and click on the flight information link.


The Grand Forks Herald contributed to this report.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535