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What If A Storm Bulldozed An Entire Major Airport?  
User currently offlineSAN787 From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 616 posts, RR: 1
Posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 6134 times:

I was thinking of all the brutal weather this time of year from tornadoes in the midwest to hurricanes along the gulf and east coast to earthquakes on the west coast. This got me thinking as to what would happen if a storm made a direct hit on for instance ORD, DFW, FLL, MIA or an earthquake severely damaged runways/terminals at SFO. These are areas very susceptible to see mother nature's bad side.

Aside from the number of people and their safety in these airports, how many aircraft are on the ground at any given time at ORD/DFW/SFO?

Are these respective terminals built to withstand brutal effects of storms/earthquakes in their given geographical area?

Are runways in the Bay Area able to withstand a large magnitude earthquake?

Ultimately, what if a major US airport (and airline hub) was knocked completely out of commission due to a significant act of mother nature?

 scratchchin 


those who don't get carried away should be.
34 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineLitz From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1757 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 6132 times:
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The best people to chime in on this, perhaps, would be some of our members who work at MSY ... the one airport in the country (I think, at least) that has come the closest to this scenario.

They took some pretty good damage and were closed for a bit; then due to the emergency situation in the city, they were open for emergency flights only for the longest time.

- litz


User currently offlineSFOnative From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 209 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 6114 times:



Quoting SAN787 (Thread starter):
Aside from the number of people and their safety in these airports, how many aircraft are on the ground at any given time at ORD/DFW/SFO?

With regular Airline, Cargo and Private Jets, easily dozens of aircraft at SFO.

Quoting SAN787 (Thread starter):
Are runways in the Bay Area able to withstand a large magnitude earthquake?

This question is kind of relevant to what you consider a "large magnitude" earthquake. In 1989 the Loma Prieta quake was 6.9 magnitude and the runways faired just fine. So to answer your question, Yes, the runways are ready for some violent shaking. But, an earthquake of biblical proportions, maybe not, but that has yet to happen in recorded history eventhough the fear mongering local media suggests it is going to happen any day now whenever it is a slow news day....  Wink


User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 6044 times:

If it was PHL, we then could start fresh!

(There are so many airports one could fill that blank with..)  Wink


User currently offlineKFLLCFII From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 3296 posts, RR: 30
Reply 4, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 6032 times:



Quoting SAN787 (Thread starter):
This got me thinking as to what would happen if a storm made a direct hit on for instance ORD, DFW, FLL, MIA or an earthquake severely damaged runways/terminals at SFO. These are areas very susceptible to see mother nature's bad side.

Search the net for photos of the then-Homestead Air Force Base (now Air Reserve Base) right after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. That's what an airport will look like after a direct Category-5 hit.



"About the only way to look at it, just a pity you are not POTUS KFLLCFII, seems as if we would all be better off."
User currently offlineUAL747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 6033 times:

Damn near came close to happening in OKC on May 3, 1999. Had the Tornado been just 5 miles north, if even that, it would have completely destroyed the major structures at Will Rogers before it crossed I-35. It damn near took out Tinker Air Force Base as well.

Highest recorded winds on earth in history, and it was also a mile wide at the base of the tornado.

Speaking of Hurricanes, my grandparents are/were at our house in South Padre, TX, which is a long island about 2 miles off the coast of texas, but only about .5 miles wide. They left the island on Tuesday morning and have been staying in MacAllen, TX since Tuesday since Hurricane Dolly pretty much planted its eye right on South Padre. Power is still out there, but hoping to get it restored soon so they can continue their vacation.

UAL


User currently offlineNADC10Fan From United States of America, joined May 2005, 165 posts, RR: 11
Reply 6, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 5964 times:

MSY did okay in Katrina. Some damage, but it was functioning okay within a relatively short amount of time. I know this, because I flew out of there 10/23/05, to get home to FLL just a few hours before WIlma hit there.

A week later, I left FLL for GPT (it had, btw, reopened after Wilma had passed within something like 48 hours). Now GPT was an airport that was ... in a bad way. Even then, it was a total mess both inside and out. Frankly, Gulfport / Biloxi was almost wiped off the map.

Even so, they got it as cleaned up as they could, and it was at least functional. No carpets, simple chairs, a lot of walls without even sheetrock, areas of it closed ... but it was still functioning. According to Wikipedia, it had reopened by 9/8/08, so there's some idea ...



TANSTAAFL!
User currently offlineBlueFlyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 3945 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 5881 times:
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Quoting SAN787 (Thread starter):
Are these respective terminals built to withstand brutal effects of storms/earthquakes in their given geographical area?

I believe I read somewhere all DFW terminals are built to handle a direct tornado hit (minus the windows, of course). The restrooms are the designated tornado shelters, as their entrance is such that it is highly unlikely that flying glass could get in.



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineCadet57 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 9085 posts, RR: 31
Reply 8, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 5849 times:



Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 3):
(There are so many airports one could fill that blank with..)

Oh! Oh! Is it ABE?  duck   Wink



Doors open, right hand side, next stop is Springfield.
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 5761 times:



Quoting Cadet57 (Reply 8):
Oh! Oh! Is it ABE?

No... I think my bretheren at COA would probably insert EWR; and my UAL buddies ORD...  Wink


User currently offlineAviateur From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 1351 posts, RR: 12
Reply 10, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 5675 times:



Quoting SAN787 (Thread starter):
Are runways in the Bay Area able to withstand a large magnitude earthquake?

I remember that scene in the movie "EARTHQUAKE", where a 707 is about to touchdown at LAX when suddenly the runway cracks and heaves.

I forget what happens after that.


PS



Patrick Smith is an airline pilot, air travel columnist and author
User currently offlineLTBEWR From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 13043 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 5656 times:

Besides MSY with Katrina, perhaps the worst storm hit at a significant commercial airport was at BDL, in Windsor Locks, CT. in 1979 from a rather nasty tornado. There was damage at the eastern side of the airport, especially to the facilities of the New England Air Museum. A number of a/c of the Museum were damaged beyond repair. It also badly damaged nearby commercial buildings, including one of a maker of vending machines.

User currently offlineSoon7x7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 5652 times:

Perhaps for a few days following it, might be a TSA free zone...can't wait!

User currently offlineCadet57 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 9085 posts, RR: 31
Reply 13, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 5616 times:



Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 12):
, especially to the facilities of the New England Air Museum. A number of a/c of the Museum were damaged beyond repair.

Mhm. A nice display of what happened that day is in the Civil Hanger there. Very sad, some irreplaceable aircraft were lost. One that always springs to mind was a Capitol Connie.



Doors open, right hand side, next stop is Springfield.
User currently offlineTXKF2010 From Bermuda, joined Nov 2005, 206 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 5529 times:

At least with hurricanes, you have time to get the aircraft out of the way and can "prepare" the buildings for the storm. Unlike with tornado or earthquakes, they just happen, so everything would go at once. And I know I'm dipping way to far in the deep end of the pool here, but what happens if a tsunami occurs...forget it.


...Rastafari Stands Alone...
User currently offlineSAN787 From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 616 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 5492 times:



Quoting TXKF2010 (Reply 15):
t least with hurricanes, you have time to get the aircraft out of the way and can "prepare" the buildings for the storm. Unlike with tornado or earthquakes

very good point.



those who don't get carried away should be.
User currently offlineRampart From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 3110 posts, RR: 6
Reply 16, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 5393 times:



Quoting TXKF2010 (Reply 14):
And I know I'm dipping way to far in the deep end of the pool here, but what happens if a tsunami occurs...forget it.

I would think that HNL and perhaps some exposed airports in Japan would have contingencies for tsunami. They're possible in the Pacific Basin, and coastal (or floating) airports would be vulnerable. Depending on where it originated, they would have up to several hours to prepare... or just minutes.

Quoting SFOnative (Reply 2):
But, an earthquake of biblical proportions, maybe not, but that has yet to happen in recorded history eventhough the fear mongering local media suggests it is going to happen any day now whenever it is a slow news day....

OK, so what's your definition of "Biblical"? Jericho? It did happen, and flattened said city (numerous times actually, based on geological records). 8.0? It will happen in the Bay Area eventually. It has to. That's how faults work.

-Rampart


User currently offlinePanAm747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4242 posts, RR: 8
Reply 17, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 5300 times:



Quote:
I remember that scene in the movie "EARTHQUAKE", where a 707 is about to touchdown at LAX when suddenly the runway cracks and heaves.

I forget what happens after that.

The flight, from somewhere on the east coast, was to arrive in Los Angeles in mid-afternoon. Debra Lee Scott, playing a newlywed woman flying with her new husband, an architect going to work for Charlton Heston's character, tells her disinterested husband his fortune through the reading of a deck of cards.. Ominously, she turns over the ace of spades, fortelling possible death.

Just as the plane touches down at LAX, the earthquake begins. The controller in the tower falls over and shouts desperately for the plane to go around. The pilot desperately applies power to get the plane airborne again, as a giant rupture in the runway appears. As it slowly widens, the drama keeps going until finally, and painstakingly, the 707/880/4-engine jet of some sort (it changes from stock footage clip to stock footage clip!) barely clears the rupture and heads off to its alternate airport, San Francisco.

The thing to remember with earthquake faults is that not all of them are mapped, such as the Northridge earthquake of 1994, and many that are known are listed as "inactive", as the one that caused the Loma Prieta quake of 1989.

Anything to any airport is possible.



Pan Am:The World's Most Experienced Airline - P(oor) S(ailor's) A(irline): San Diego's Hometown Airline-Catch Our Smile!
User currently offlineTSS From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 3067 posts, RR: 5
Reply 18, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 5278 times:

BHM has exactly the same sort of restroom entrances as DFW. It had never occurred to me that they were designed that way to obstruct flying glass in the event of a tornado, but it makes perfect sense that they would be.

Since the individual terminals at LAX vary somewhat in age, I wonder to what level of earthquake resistance they're certified?



Able to kill active threads stone dead with a single post!
User currently offlineMasseyBrown From United States of America, joined Dec 2002, 5376 posts, RR: 7
Reply 19, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day ago) and read 5235 times:

This article discusses the damage to OAK runway 11-29 as a result of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=1521267



I love long German words like 'Freundschaftsbezeigungen'.
User currently offlineManfredj From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 1132 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (6 years 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 4475 times:

Daytona Beach is class C airspace. It's a pretty big airport for my school, Embry Riddle. This is as close to destruction as I can remember....just look at our field....

http://www.airliners.net/photo/Embry...C_&prev_id=1187880&next_id=1185404

It's what happens when a tornado hits ground ON the airport.

[Edited 2008-07-26 08:44:28]


757: The last of the best
User currently offline4holer From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 2999 posts, RR: 9
Reply 21, posted (6 years 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 4228 times:

Some B-36s met up with a tornado some years ago...
http://www.cowtown.net/proweb/tornado/tornado.htm

(pics at link)


Edit:

And I found this satellite pic following the tornado at OKC where you can see the swath on a beeline to an airport (not sure which one), but takes a left turn at the last minute. I've seen a pic of the same scene from an airplane as well that shows it even more dramatically, but can't find it at the moment...

http://www.fas.usda.gov/pecad2/highlights/99-05/okcity22.jpg

Second edit:
The airport in the path that was spared in the above pic is Tinker AFB.
OKC airport itself is on the left edge of that satellite photo. I remember that day looking online for the weather conditions at the airport and seeing "tornado" on the current weather report.

[Edited 2008-07-26 09:33:42]

[Edited 2008-07-26 09:34:33]


Ghosts appear and fade away.....................
User currently offlineEKSkycargo370 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2006, 150 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (6 years 1 week 14 hours ago) and read 3868 times:

Can this major storm please head in the direction of LHR?

User currently offlineNQYGuy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (6 years 1 week 13 hours ago) and read 3323 times:

I was watching some ITV 'Airline' spin-off this afternoon on ITV2 which was looking at the 'operations' of Sanford and MCO in Florida. It was interesting because it showed MCO being closed, and the last flight to depart before operations were suspended.. which was actually an ATA 727.

User currently offlineCatdaddy63 From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 296 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (6 years 1 week 13 hours ago) and read 3283 times:
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The Air Force has several mobile units available that can set up mobile control towers and radar systems in a very short period of time. Everything is designed to be airlifted or trucked to where they are needed. In case of a major emergency I'm sure they would be tasked to deploy. With generator power an airfield could be back to limited operations pretty quickly.

25 SFOnative : An 8.0 is not unlikely, but much like Japan who seems to have quakes near that size quite often and are still with us today, I don't think the Bay Ar
26 Superhub : It did, it was called Terminal 5 . Shame it wasn't big enough. I assume the authorities would try to quickly restore the airport so that it could rap
27 Rampart : SFO, I think you were actually replying to my comment... the machine sometimes confuses those. I think both Tokyo and San Francisco are similarly awa
28 Ikramerica : Despite the hype, Katrina was not the kind of storm being discussed here. The reason it did the damage it did (and got the press it did) was that it
29 OPNLguy : With Dolly's recent visit to the Gulf Coast, HRL was closed for 4-5 days afterwards. There was no power at the airport (or in the city, for that matte
30 Post contains links Jbrusnak : Hi, A limited scenario of this actually happened in Seattle following the earthquake we had here in 2001. The airport suffered $32M in damage and the
31 747MegaTop : Please add LAX too to fill that blank.
32 747MegaTop : I think earthquakes can be tackled too. I distinctly remember a documentary about KIX on Discovery way back. Here is an excerpt from wikipidea (http:
33 2travel2know : Some Caribbean airports, KIN comes to my mind 1st, because of their location, will be severely damaged if ever hit by a Katrina-type or worse hurrican
34 Post contains links NADC10Fan : C'mon, Ikra. I'm disappointed in you. How could you read what I wrote and walk away with MSY, MSY, MSY??? Katrina should be amongst the storms we tal
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