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Tornado Warnings And Major Airport Operations  
User currently offlineBigB From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 593 posts, RR: 3
Posted (2 years 12 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 4304 times:

With a tornado hitting KSTL last night. This event has raised a series of questions in my mind about airport operations. Do airports have a plan in place for whenever a tornado warning is issued for passengers? I wonder if airports like DFW and ORD have a plan in place because these airports are located in a region that see Tornadoes very often. For example, a tornado warning was issued far advance prior till a tornado hit Lambert field but people were told to head to ground level right as the tornado hit.

Luckly, this tornado was not a EF5 or esle it would have been too late for a lot of those folks. I like to hear thoughts and opinions.


ETSN Baber, USN
12 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinenkops From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 2634 posts, RR: 6
Reply 1, posted (2 years 12 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 4247 times:

A plan is usually set up in the Emergency Procedures Manual... for instance, in case of tornado warning , airport ops makes announcement for all passengers to stay clear of windows , and all emergency personnel are advised of warning (ARFF, police, etc.). Airlines are also told about watches and warnings so they can secure ground equip (in case of a watch) and other loose objects to prevent as much debris as possible.


next flights ACY-TPA-ACY on NK, ACY-ORD-DEN-IAH-ACY on UA
User currently offlinedumbell2424 From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 865 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (2 years 12 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 4229 times:
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The saddest part is that NWS is not allowed to tell ATC about tornado warnings per FAA rules

User currently offlinecorey07850 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2525 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (2 years 12 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 4226 times:

Quoting dumbell2424 (Reply 2):
The saddest part is that NWS is not allowed to tell ATC about tornado warnings per FAA rules

Why might that be?


User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 3701 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (2 years 12 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 4226 times:
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On the passenger side, there are signs throughout DFW's terminals indicating that restrooms do double-duty as tornado-safe shelters.


I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineMaverick623 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 5429 posts, RR: 6
Reply 5, posted (2 years 12 months 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 4202 times:

Quoting BigB (Thread starter):
Do airports have a plan in place for whenever a tornado warning is issued for passengers? I wonder if airports like DFW and ORD have a plan in place because these airports are located in a region that see Tornadoes very often.

Airports and airlines are required to have an emergency manual covering everything from severe weather to a public health quarantine.

Quoting BigB (Thread starter):
a tornado warning was issued far advance prior till a tornado hit Lambert field but people were told to head to ground level right as the tornado hit.

I mentioned this in another thread, and obviously there's going to be a review and report about the response, but as somebody who has witnessed an actual "out-of-nowhere" event throw airplanes around and blow out windows (a microburst), this looks like a serious failure to follow any sort of procedure, especially given that there was plenty of advanced warning.

Quoting dumbell2424 (Reply 2):
The saddest part is that NWS is not allowed to tell ATC about tornado warnings per FAA rules

I don't know where you heard this, but that's not accurate. The NWS publishes an alert, passes it to the FAA, who in turn puts it in the METAR and TAF. There's no direct link from the NWS office to the tower, obviously, but to suggest their warnings are essentially ignored is absolutely false.



"PHX is Phoenix, PDX is the other city" -777Way
User currently offlinedumbell2424 From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 865 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (2 years 12 months 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 4120 times:
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Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 5):
I don't know where you heard this, but that's not accurate. The NWS publishes an alert, passes it to the FAA, who in turn puts it in the METAR and TAF. There's no direct link from the NWS office to the tower, obviously, but to suggest their warnings are essentially ignored is absolutely false.

I dunno, just found it here, I guess it's accuracy can be disputed, but just what I read

http://meteorologicalmusings.blogspo...m/2011/04/miracle-in-st-louis.html


User currently offlineN243NW From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1609 posts, RR: 20
Reply 7, posted (2 years 12 months 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4086 times:

One of the things I noticed that was most interesting was the fact that the airplanes were either being boarded during the half-hour-long tornado warning or had been sitting at the gate loaded with pax waiting for the storm to blow over before pushing back. Wouldn't it make sense for airline personnel to offload all aircraft during a tornado warning, seeing as it's a much safer option than letting them sit in an exposed aircraft that won't be going anywhere until the storm passes anyway?  


B-52s don't take off. They scare the ground away.
User currently offlineImperialEagle From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 2060 posts, RR: 20
Reply 8, posted (2 years 12 months 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 4064 times:
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Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 5):
looks like a serious failure to follow any sort of procedure, especially given that there was plenty of advanced warning.
Quoting N243NW (Reply 7):
Wouldn't it make sense for airline personnel to offload all aircraft during a tornado warning, seeing as it's a much safer option than letting them sit in an exposed aircraft that won't be going anywhere until the storm passes anyway?

That's what I'm thinking. Can you imagine the carnage if a fully loaded aircraft were swept into the air an then dumped to the ground. It's not like it might just be able to glide it's way back down. Major parts of the aircraft could be torn off and/or damaged, etc. Not going to be good in any event. Even worse, an airport with the layout of ATL and a tornado passes between a couple of airside terminals during a busy period and lots of aircraft full of pax. etc. Not good!



"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough!"
User currently offlineMaverick623 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 5429 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (2 years 12 months 19 hours ago) and read 3962 times:

Quoting dumbell2424 (Reply 6):

I dunno, just found it here, I guess it's accuracy can be disputed, but just what I read

Understood.

I strongly dispute the accuracy of his statements. The blogger you linked is a scaremonger trying to hawk his book.

Tornado warnings (based on a visual or radar data of a funnel cloud/hook echo) are denoted in METARS as FC. KSTLs METAR for the hour that the storm hit the airport included +FC.

Where else would they get that info besides the NWS?

Quoting N243NW (Reply 7):
Wouldn't it make sense for airline personnel to offload all aircraft during a tornado warning,

Yup, which is why this will get a lot of scrutiny. They had ample warning that, even if the tornado didn't hit the airport, the downdrafts associated with it can still pack a wallop.



"PHX is Phoenix, PDX is the other city" -777Way
User currently offlineN243NW From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1609 posts, RR: 20
Reply 10, posted (2 years 12 months 16 hours ago) and read 3929 times:

Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 9):
Where else would they get that info besides the NWS?

Especially if the tornado was rain-wrapped, which sounds like the case. Plus, even if they could have seen it from the tower, there's a good chance that they had at least evacuated to a level below the tower cab without windows.



B-52s don't take off. They scare the ground away.
User currently offlinerwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2238 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (2 years 11 months 4 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 3860 times:
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Quoting blueflyer (Reply 4):
On the passenger side, there are signs throughout DFW's terminals indicating that restrooms do double-duty as tornado-safe shelters.

Same thing in DEN.


User currently offlinepilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3139 posts, RR: 11
Reply 12, posted (2 years 11 months 4 weeks ago) and read 3738 times:

Quoting N243NW (Reply 7):
One of the things I noticed that was most interesting was the fact that the airplanes were either being boarded during the half-hour-long tornado warning or had been sitting at the gate loaded with pax waiting for the storm to blow over before pushing back. Wouldn't it make sense for airline personnel to offload all aircraft during a tornado warning, seeing as it's a much safer option than letting them sit in an exposed aircraft that won't be going anywhere until the storm passes anyway?

Short answer, no.

Long answer, no. Having ramp personel on a ramp during a thunderstorm is much more dangerous. The aircraft is grounded and it takes a lot more than a 130mph windgust to flip a plane. It might move out on the ramp but flipping is far less likely. More likely would be somebody being injured when the plane is blown away from the jetbridge as was the case with a 757 in STL. The likelyhood of passengers being injured in the terminal by flying debris is much higher than being injured sitting on an aircraft out in the middle of the ramp.

St. Louis county has a policy of issuing a tornado warning when any county touching it has one. This inculdes those to the east. I spent many summers there on a sunny ramp without a cloud anywhere within 40 miles listening to tonado sirens or hearing them 30 minutes after the storm passed.



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