DETROIT (WJRT) - (1/22/2019) - Ice and snow forced the Detroit Metropolitan Airport to completely close at 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA says the airport initially was expected to reopen at 1 a.m. However, continued bad weather forced it to remain closed through the night and into Wednesday morning.
Airport officials said freezing rain diluted de-icing fluid, rendering it ineffective.
Hundreds of travelers leaving Detroit were stranded in the airport overnight while passengers coming to Southeast Michigan got diverted to airports across the Eastern United States for the night.
Flights finally began departing Detroit Metro late Wednesday morning. Anyone on a flight departing or arriving at the airport should check the status before heading there due to the backlog of cancellations and delays.
The Associated Press reported one runway reopened around 10 a.m. and others were expected to reopen later in the day. Arriving flights were still delayed by about five hours Wednesday afternoon.
One of the travelers stuck overnight was new ABC12 Morning News anchor Matt Barbour, who was visiting Mid-Michigan on Tuesday ahead of his move to the area in April.
He hunkered down in the airport with his wife and 2-year-old daughter while awaiting a flight back to Atlanta. The family finally received word that they could board a flight out around noon.
"It's been a mess," Barbour said. "A lot of folks ended up spending the night out here at the airport. Thankfully, we were able to get a hotel last night before they all booked up."
His flight to Atlanta was next to a plane also heading south to Florida. Those passengers boarded the plane, backed away from the gate and taxied toward the runway before it was called back to the gate.
"There were concerns about the runway being safe," Barbour said. "So when we saw that happen, we said 'okay, we probably need to just go ahead and get out of the airport."
Most of Southeast Michigan was getting hit with snow showers after some light freezing rain fell earlier, making roadways and runways very slippery.