BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Nearly 5,000 U.S. flights were canceled Thursday because of the heavy snow storm along the East Coast, and travelers at BWI Airport are scrambling to find alternate ways to reach their final destinations.

Some say they have been stranded for hours, while others will be traveling for more than a day just to get home.

The massive winter storm dealt a crippling blow to airports along the North East. At JFK International in New York, snow pounded grounded planeX on the tarmac.

More than 1,700 fights going through that region’s busiest airports were suspended. The travel nightmare is also having an impact at BWI Airport, where a 10th grade class returning to Denver from a trip to Israel has been stranded for hours.

“Our travel agent had booked us on a flight out of Baltimore tonight, and we had to get train tickets, and come down here on the Amtrak, and we’ve been camped out here since about 11 a.m.,” said Melanie Knowles.

Snow and high winds reduced visibility at BWI Thursday morning. the snow team worked to clear air field, and staffers fielded questions from worried travelers at check-in

“It’s just a nightmare,” traveler Spencer Wrench said. “Everywhere is screwed up.”

The flight board at BWI was packed with cancellations and delays. The airport is urging travelers to call ahead before heading out.

“The snow here locally was not terrible significant, but obviously further to the Northeast in large markets like New York and Boston, the storm is much more intense,” said BWI spokesman Jonathan Dean.

American Airlines and Delta offer direct flights from BWI to JFK, but with that airport shut down for much of the day, those planes remained grounded.

All told, the storm rattled operations at airports nationwide, with the largest number of canceled flights along the East Coast.

Some are not waiting for take off, they’re renting a car and hitting the road.

“We had a broken-down plane, we had terrible weather,” traveler Bernard Mostert said.

Although Philadelphia and BWI remained open, they were not accepting diverted flights

Nearly 900 flights already canceled for Friday around the county.

If you are traveling, check for updates and allow extra time.

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