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Airlines cancel hundreds of weekend flights as thunderstorms sweep through Florida

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– More than 9,000 U.S. flights were delayed over the weekend.

Southwest Airlines was the hardest hit and had started Saturday with a backend technical problem.

– Air traffic control slowed or paused traffic in Florida on Saturday due to storms.

Thunderstorms are especially challenging for airlines because they are harder to predict and plan for compared with other weather like winter storms and hurricanes, during which airlines often cancel flights hours if not days in advance.

Before the storms sparked delays in Florida, the airline had briefly paused departures early in the day to perform checks on a backend system that it had reset as part of regular maintenance overnight.

Airlines are currently scrambling to staff up to handle the travel demand that surged as Covid cases declined this winter. Staffing shortages worsened flight disruptions last year.