Pasco — Some holiday travelers scrambled to make alternative plans Friday, even as dense fog -- which caused canceled and delayed flights around the Northwest -- began to clear up in the Tri-Cities.
The heavy fog reduced visibility to less than a quarter mile Thursday night, forcing incoming and outgoing planes to stay grounded. Delays and cancellations at the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco stretched into Friday morning.
Fourteen flights were delayed between Thursday and Friday, said Buck Taft, airport spokesman. A half-mile visibility is needed to land at the airport, he said.
A dense fog warning is in effect in the Tri-Cities until 10 a.m. today, said the National Weather Service. Patchy fog is expected to continue into early next week, with temperatures in the low 30s today and Sunday.
The weather service's air stagnation advisory also has been extended to Monday.
Nineteen Tri-City Americans hockey players were stranded in different airports by the fog Thursday, but they all made it back to the Tri-Cities in time for Friday night's game against the Portland Winterhawks.
Ron Sheneberger was heading back to his Yakima home Thursday after spending Christmas in Las Vegas, when the fog diverted his plane to Spokane, he said. He was forced to rent a car in Spokane.
Sheneberger was at the Pasco airport Friday to pick up his car before heading home, he said.
"We started descending and they said (the fog) was getting worse," he said. "We had to circle for a while before going to Spokane. I didn't know what they were going to do."
By Friday afternoon, the skies around the Tri-Cities began to clear and some planes were allowed to take off and land, though some flights remained delayed, Taft said.
Passengers flying Allegiant Air found themselves searching for places stay Friday night.
Allegiant canceled at least two of its flights heading to Phoenix and Las Vegas, Taft said. Airport officials didn't expect any other cancellations or travelers spending the night at the airport.
Fred Bancroft booked a room at the Pasco Red Lion after finding out his return flight to Phoenix was canceled, he said. He and his wife were visiting family in Spokane for Christmas.
The couple were optimisticthat they would be able to get on a plane today, Bancroft said. They planned to use the cancellation as a chance to take in the Tri-Cities.
"We are retired, so it doesn't really mean too much for us," Bancroft said. "There's a lot of other people that are trying to figure out what to do."