>>>I guess if the Airport is not "officially Closed"..Its up to the Pilot ..Correct?
The only folks that "close" an airport are the entities that operate them (Port Authority, etc.) and they usually only do so for large-scale events like blizzards and flooding. If the airport fogs-in, it may be below landing or takeoff minimums (so flights can't operate) but it's never "closed" per se.
The same hold true for thunderstorms. Just as fog's severity can ebb/flow above/below minimums and cause stop/resume operations, thunderstorms usually move-in, impact the airport, and then move-out. An airport could have a thunderstorm directly overhead with visibility down to 1/4 mile (like BWI
yesterday) and the airport would never be technically closed--just temporarily unusable or below minimums.
>>>Which airports experience the most delays because of Severe weather..particulary Thunderstorms...DFW
Frontal thunderstorms can happen just about anywhere, but you can also have airmass thunderstorms that pop-up most every where, and especially along the Gulf Coast and Florida. If I had to venture a guess, I'd say TPA
see the most thunderstorms and related delays. That said, the NYC-DC corridor might see fewer storms, but the associated delays can be disproportionately higher to the congestion of the airspace.
>>>but what about close calls..cells very near the airport ..bad wind sr. etc.
AAs crash at LIT
and DLs at DFW
come to mind. Both pilots had clearance to land ..with disastrous results..
In addition to landing and takeoff minimums, there are also other operational parameters that like crosswind components that must be adhered to. When a storm cell moves-in, it may well drive the surface winds such that produce crosswinds out of limits, which temporarily make the airport unsuitable for operations. Still, as you pointed out with your LIT
/AA and DFW
/DL examples, accidents still happen. The fact that these kinds of accidents happen so infrequently when compared with the zillions of airline flights over the years suggests that folks take thunderstorms seriously and comply with company policies and procedures as well as use common sense.
pilot who had been waiting for a long time said he wanted to depart..even though ATC STRONGLY advised against it...He did anyway
If the weather wasn't on the airport proper and was more of a consideration during climbout after takeoff, what you mentioned could have other possible explanations. In many cases, it comes down to interpretation of the aircraft's weather radar (which is different from what ATC may show). One case where an accident occurred with the general scenario you mentioned was Pan Am 759 at MSY
back in 1982. I can't recall if any discussions transpired between crew/ATC as to whether they should depart or not, but several other aircraft declined departing runway 10 while PA759 did, and promptly encountered a microburst.
Sometimes, it comes down to human factors. It seems pretty clear from the LIT
/AA cockpit transcript that the captain (may he RIP) wanted to make it into LIT
no matter what due to a variety of reasons (long-day, they'd be illegal crewtime-wise if they diverted somewhere, etc.), and that some self-deceptive and reality-evasive thinking was going on. They knew the cell was headed towards the airport, and they knew the storm cell was driving the winds around (why they broke off from approaching 22L and set-up to approach 04R. When the visibility (as measured by RVR) dropped to a value below minimums, the F/O mentioned it, but was essentially overruled by the captain (a check airman) who noted that they were inside the marker so they could continue down to decision height. While technically correct, and something commonly done when the RVR is low due to fog, it ignored the reality of -what- was causing the RVR to be low, i.e. the heavy rain associated with the thunderstorm. It could have just as easily been hail driving the RVR values lower, or bowling balls.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.