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Polar vortex contributes to multi-billion dollar losses

Cancellations at Newark and many other airports continue to impact business continuity for many Americans.
Cancellations at Newark and many other airports continue to impact business continuity for many Americans.

Many Americans are trying to get back from their holiday vacations, but an early January snow storm and extreme cold from the polar vortex continues to cause significant delays.

Due to flight cancelations, school closures and lack of outdoor activity in many states, economists predict that that the polar vortex may cause a loss of 0.1 to 0.2 percent of GDP growth in the first quarter, CNBC reported.

"We think that the problem will be short-lived, but we estimate it will cost about $5 billion because of the sheer size of the population affected — about 200 million people in the eastern two-thirds of the country," Evan Gold, senior vice president at Planalytics, told the source.

Thousands of flights across major airports like Chicago O'Hare, New York City's LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International are struggling to find solutions around the polar vortex. Below freezing temperatures are freezing aircraft equipment as well as putting employees at risk.

"It's a combination of everything that has had a domino effect the last few days," JetBlue spokesman Anders Lindstrom explained to Reuters. "As one of the largest carriers in the Northeast, weather in this area impacts our entire route network and operations."

These are times when having a business continuity plan in place could have the most potential — the sooner customers are in the loop about the company's next steps, the less frustrated they will be.

For example, JetBlue made the executive decision to cancel all flights Monday afternoon, and to extend such provisions into Tuesday. While that may have angered many travelers, Fox News contributor Rick Seaney mentioned that it was "a smart move by JetBlue." Instead of having passengers wait in a crowded airport, customers were able to look for alternatives from the privacy of hotel rooms or a relative's home.

The unintended consequences of harsh weather will continue to challenge companies and business owners, so it is pertinent to always be ahead of such risks. Business continuity consultants can help establish a strategy that will enable operations under certain circumstances.