Topic Author
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Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Inflight?

Sun Jun 06, 2004 4:10 am

Has anyone ever seen severe weather at an airport or inflight. When I mean "severe weather" I mean severe thunderstorms, Tornadoes, or hurricanes. I know there are PLENTY of midwest US airports that see tornadoes every so often (EG: DFW, IAH, STL, MCI, ORD, MDW.....) If so, have you ever had to take shelter in an airport from an approaching storm? Has there ever been excessive damage to an airport or a/c at an aiport? Thankfully, it has never happened to me, but I'm sure others have experienced severe weather that has effected travel plans.

Stories? Comments?
Boeing Nut
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Sun Jun 06, 2004 4:37 am

I work a STL operations, and two years ago, we had a massive hail storm here. Up to baseball size, with a tornado in the vicinity. It was the first time I was truly getting scared during a storm. The noise was horrendous. Somehow, not one window in the entire terminal complex was damaged. However, surrounding buildings, equipment and cars had the hell beat out of them. I still see cars that were damaged in that storm today. Then again, we had some wild weather here last week, so it's hard to tell if it's old or new damage!
I'm not a real aeronautical engineer, I just play one on
Topic Author
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Sun Jun 06, 2004 5:22 am


A little tidbit about STL. My dad was out there on business 15 years ago, and he said that was the only time where he had experienced a delay where a tornado was in the vicinity. He said the region was under a tornado warning. I think he was flying TWA at the time.
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Sun Jun 06, 2004 5:36 am

On an ATR-42 or 72 (can't remember where we were going to or the airline, I was only 8 at the time) we were flying through a thunderstorm and it got so bad! The turbulence hit us unexpectedly and the floor fell out from underneath us! It was horrifying. My mom's glass flew in the air and ended up all over the guy in front of her. The flight attendant who had been trying to make her way to the back to start trash duty flew up and practically hit the ceiling. The plan did a slight nosedown and everybody was screaming. The lights were flickering on and off and it was soooooo freaky! But then it started to taper off and then we landed at the airport. That is about the worst I have had it.

Dubai: Center of the 21st Century
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Sun Jun 06, 2004 5:41 am

I arrived at DEN in bad snowstorms 3 times...
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Sun Jun 06, 2004 6:47 am

HKG-SFO us and 2 other company 744's were basically following eachother (we too were in a UA744). Over the Pacific, the 744 infront of us reported moderate to severe turbulence. At that time the pilot came over the PA and asked the f/a's to stop the meal service and asked for the crew and pax to take a seat for an hour. We hit it hard but not as bad as the guy infront of us. About 45min we were safe to stand but still was a bit bumpy. We arrived at SFO in the normal cloudy and wet setting.

"It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark."
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Sun Jun 06, 2004 7:12 am

two years ago after some very hot summer-days there was a huge front coming in from the west with heavy thunderstorms, more or less all over Northern Germany. It hit one flight very badly, which was a Crossair-flight from Basel to Hamburg on a Saab2000. They couldn´t land at Hamburg due to strong winds in this approaching thunderstorm, planned to divert into close-by Bremen, which then was already closed, from there they tried Hannover, had a missed approach due to the showers, then decided to go eastwards to Berlin (which a lot of other airliners did...), queued up there in approach but had to abort this as well because...guess what...the thunderstorm arrived there too. They tried to escape further to the east but were running out of fuel and made an emergency landing on a former Russian Air Force-airport called Werneuchen, approx 50 km east of Berlin. Taking into account all circumstances (dawn, strong weather, no lights on rwy) they succeeded quite well in landing there, but the aircraft was damaged beyond repair when it hit a wall of sand, which local authorities placed there after young people used this closed runway for illegal car races before... all pax and crew got off the aircraft quite well, but I guess there were no more empty airsickness-bags left  Wink/being sarcastic
We are not talking about just a summer-thunderstorm, it really was a historic one (plenty of damages occured in Berlin and other cities that night). Even though we were pre-warned from the airports in the west and the weather-warning, which made our ground-staff to tie down every loose equipment, I remember very well how quick this weather popped up... and the amazing faces we made from inside the building when we saw it happening....

By the way - here is a picture of the aircraft involved
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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Philipp Brumann

Just imagine how passengers and crew must have felt with one after the other diversion-trial not succeeding... I am sure they were desperate to land.
Never want to experience such an extreme...
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Sun Jun 06, 2004 8:43 am

One time I was just intercepting the localizer at MEM and the tower gave instructions to go to go-around and return to intersection,(I can't remember the name now) due to a tornado crossing the runway. The air was actually quite smooth, but the sky was very dark and green. We never did see the tornado.
BTW, I love being in cruise flight near sunset and see T-Storms off in the distance flashing lightning, etc. But I don't wish severe weather on anyone!
Fly North Central Airlines..The route of the Northliners!
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Sun Jun 06, 2004 9:21 am

It was about 3 years ago this week that we had 2, back-to-back, early morning hailstorms at OMA that plowed right over the field. We park about 20-25 a/c here over night and they all got the crap kicked out of them by 1/2" to 1 1/2" hail. I had to fly later that morning and there were aircraft parked all over the place waiting for inspectors to come in and look at them. As they were pushing one UA 73x back from the gate to take it to parking, you could see the sun rippling on the wings like it was reflecting on waves of water there were so many dents!

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Photo © Aric Thalman

Dave Mark - Intrinsic Algorithm - Reducing the world to mathematical equations!
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Sun Jun 06, 2004 9:40 am

Two years ago, when I was about to depart from Buenos Aires this massive thunderstorm, with really strong wind and hail, came. It got pitch dark, the planes were rocking in the wind, electricity was off, the wind damaged the roof of the departure gate area so water stareted pour down inside.
I was really "excited" to board the AZs MD-11 flight to MXP in that situation...
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Sun Jun 06, 2004 9:43 am

I was flying into Cincinnati last week and we had severe storms upon landing, fun times!!! Lightning outside the Md-80 and all! It was fun! I felt totally safe
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Sun Jun 06, 2004 9:46 am

I was stationed at Schofield Barracks on Oahu, Hawaii, on my Christmas
leave in December of 1983, flying back home to EWR on a World Airways DC-10, about 3 hours out of HNL in the pitch black of night, enroute to OAK we hit what seemed like a WALL OF WIND, the aircraft at first rose what seemed 200-300 feet and the pilot reduced power, we then dropped a few hundred feet. The F/A came on and told us to "buckle up" that we just encountered "CAT" , but I knew she was wrong because as soon as we hit the wall of wind I could see the strobe lights on the end of the wing lighting up the sky out of my window, I was seated over the wing. I suspect we hit the anvil or top of a small thunderstorm. It only lasted about 30 seconds, the whole time we were in or slicing through the very top of the storm. I don't know why the F/A called it clear air turbulence if the pilot most surely saw as I did the cloud that we were in. We made it safe onto OAK and EWR. It was the most nerve-racking moment I can remember.

nothing like the smell of jet exhaust!
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Sun Jun 06, 2004 11:23 pm

Many years ago I was sitting in the right seat of a DC-9 parked in remote at Reno NV. It was night and no stars. I became aware that the ground lights south of the airport were disappearing and that eventually I could see no farther than the control tower.

I realized that I was looking at a dust storm, the leading edge of a violent local phenomenon. (It turned out to be a monster dry microburst.) One by one the ground lights in front of us disappeared into the wall of dust and sand. Tower visibility went to zero and the wind/gust spread on the ATIS could not keep up with reality.

We told the flight attendants to close the cabin door and we waited it out. The ramp floodlights began disappearing and we could no longer see the terminal. A Western 737 had pushed back and turned in our direction with his taxi lights on. He disappeared into the wall of dust - I could not see his taxi light pointed right at me from 150 yards away.

When it finally hit us the plane began rocking and shaking and rocks the size of peas bounced off the windshield as we were pelted with "dg" or decomposed granite off the back side of the Sierra Nevadas. Even though pitot tubes are not suitable for this, I saw airspeed needle movement during the passing of the gust wall.

When it cleared we got a few raindrops and the air was milky with dust. It had blown a double door off a temporary terminal building, moved a 727 with tug attached about fifteen feet sideways, and there was a Cessna lying upside-down on the ramp next to us.

Then it was gone. The night was just hazy and cool and calm. We took off about twenty minutes later with no problems at all.

It all serves to illustrate my most important lesson to students.

There are three things you need to remember about weather:

  1. Weather is temporary.

  2. Weather is local.

  3. You have no idea how bad it can get.

Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Sun Jun 06, 2004 11:36 pm

About 10 years ago the Wichita, KS (ICT) airport was evacuated due to tornado warnings. We were to depart on an AA MD-80 to DFW, but ended up in the basement of the airport with all passengers and flight crews for about 30 minutes. We departed about an hour late.

Another time while departing ICT in a CitationJet 525, we could see a tornado on the ground about 5 miles east of the airport. The tornado sirens were sounding as we were closing the cabin door. The control tower let us depart because we were heading west, and there were blue skies. As we taxied out, I took a picture of the tornado from the plane window. The departure was smooth and VFR.
Boeing Flown: 701,702,703;717;720;721,722;731,732,733,734,735,737,738,739;741,742,743,744,747SP;752,753;762,763;772,773.
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Mon Jun 07, 2004 12:19 am

In March 2002 at Laughlin AFB we had a really really bad hail storm. With golfball to baseball size hail. When all was said and done, out of the 90+ T-37's we had there, only 5 were flyable the next day from all the hail damage.

In 1998 they had a pretty good flood, pretty interesting to see pictures of T-37's floating against their tie down chains.
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Mon Jun 07, 2004 1:22 am

I did in 2002, I was in one of the full colours My Travel 757's (Either CCMY or PIDS), I didn't really enjoy the first half of the flight, Shortly after take-off (whilst we were still climbing to our final cruise hight) I saw one of the MYT DC-10's climbing besides ours, it must have come from BHX as we were over the midlands heading south to LCA. Well I can see it clearly as it was parralell to us and only a few miles away. I keep watching it (since it is not everyday you watch one of only 4 UK owned DC-10's fly alongside) and wished I had any camera and then we hit turbulance, nothing much at first and then it started getting rougher and the crew had to stop their service and sit down (It wasn't severe as they performed their checks first + they were not bouncing off the roof). The captain came on and told us we were stuck in this for the next half hour.

About 40/50 or so minutes after that we are heading down over the south coast of France and it is very dark (It was an evening departure) and out of my window all I can see is a large Thunderstorm which is spanning a huge distance - it was just a big wall and yet it was still some distance away, the lighning was going everywhere, down, up and through the clouds, I could have swore I saw some sprites shoot out of it. Even though we were clear of it we were still rocked by turbulence.

I did hear that a few flights got too close and got pretty shaken by it.

I know - I waffled again.

Lifes a train racing towards you, now you can either run away or grab a chair & a beer and watch it come - Phil
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Mon Jun 07, 2004 2:41 am

I took this at Sky Harbor (PHX) this year. The storm slowly drifted by for the entire three hours I was shooting. I was one floor down from the top in the parking garage. It was cool.

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Photo © William A. Jones

[Edited 2004-06-06 20:10:16]
Some people are like Slinkies. They bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Wed Jun 16, 2004 10:20 am

Back, in '00,'01?? Somewhere around there... In Mid-December I had a flight home to STL (phx-stl) which was supposed to land at about 10:30.. Coming from Phoenix, I wasn't aware St.Louis was in the midst of a huge snowstorm until the F/A's told us we wouldn't be landing anytime soon due to ground operation agents trying to clear all the runways at once (heh, go figure). Finally we were running out of fuel, and tower gave us clearance. The second we hit the runway, we started sliding all over the place. After waiting for 2 snow plows to escort us to the gate, we deplaned, and got a spectacular view of all the TWA planes getting de-iced (long live TWA)... (btw, my flight was a TWA 757)

In the summer of '01, on a Southwest flight STL - PHX, we ran into a bad dust storm covering all of Phoenix at the time.. We started our approach as there was no way out of the storm, and we got a sight of another WN plane to the side of us getting a direct hit from lightning. Once we got to the taxi-way, we had to sit and wait for 30+ min, as they wouldnt allow ground ops to be out in the dust, or the cabin door to be opened..
Triple shifts everday 6/19 - 7/1..Won't be on much
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Thu Jun 17, 2004 1:56 am

This past sunday I was onboard US 1281 (CLT-JAX). Just after initial descent for JAX we were put into a holding pattern. Thunderstorms had been visible to the east for most of the flight. Apparently the storms moved directly over JAX for some time. We were diverted to SAV with about five other a/c. Finally were refueled and resumed flight two hours later.
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Fri Jun 18, 2004 2:44 am

Yes, more than a few times:

Blizzard cancelled my CLE-CLT leg of CLE-CLT-TPA in 1999 (zero visibility at CLE for an hour); I was rebooked CLE-PIT-TPA and the only seat left on the long leg was in first class  Smile

Severe thunderstorms cancelled my CLE-ABE B1900 flight in July 2000; I rebooked CLE-PHL on a 737-500. That evening every non-jet flight east of PIT was cancelled and about 1/2 of the ERJ flights met the same fate. Only the high fliers could go, and most of them were delayed.

Two summers ago at TPA I sat through a severe thunderstorm waiting for my TPA-DTW leg of TPA-DTW-CAK on a NW 727-200 (one of the last flights with that aircraft.) The flight was delayed at arrival (circling away from the storm) finally got in and then we were behind about 15 other delayed flights. Once we were up in the air we diverted around several nasty looking CBs and were told by the pilot that the severe weather extended on a front line roughly from TPA to... DTW! We arrived DTW with lightning on and around the field and couldn't get in our gate because the ground crew wasn't allowed out of the terminal building. Then my second leg was delayed 2-1/2 hours leaving DTW because the plane couldn't leave FNT in that weather. When we finally got up in the air for that flight, it being a max. 18,000 ft. altitude with much of the flight under the cloud base I was treated to c/g lightning shows from CLE to CAK.

Of course then there's:
Up, up and away!
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Fri Jun 18, 2004 3:30 am

*Clamps a corncob pipe in his mouth* Aye me laddies, draw up here to 'ole Garnetpalmetto while I tell you of the time I had to fly through the great Hurricane Isabel of 2003. You see, I had to fly from CAE to PHL and was booked on a US Airways Express D328. Not thet jet-version mind you, but the turboprop-powered one. As I sat in the airport bar helping myself to one or two rounds, my gaze was focused on the TV which was showing pictures of the hurricane starting to make landfall. To make matters worse, the flight was delayed. Apparently PSA keeps its 328s together with baling wire and chewing gum, but in short order we boarded. About halfway through the flight, the flight attendant started at the back of the plane talking to flyers individually and I knew then that something was up. When he got to me he explained that some gremlin in the aircraft's weather radar was acting up and that the radar had died on them. PHL would not allow us to land with a non-functioning radar and, as a result, we would divert to PIT so that the mechanics could replace the radar.

Now at this point you're thinking "Flying through a hurricane without a weather radar...risky, but not too bad." Oh no, my friends. The turbulence was awful. Many an airsickness bag was filled to the brim as the poor wretches puked their guts out. It felt as if the plane dropped out from under you only to slam back into you seconds later. Then, while looking out the window I saw we were in the midst of heavy rain, winds, and worst of all, ice. Yes, ice forming on the wings, engines, and props. So with ice accumulating, a blind radar, pea soup visibility, and a howling wind we made our way to Pittsburgh.

While we did land safely, the combination of the time it took to repair the radar and a groundstop in PHL due to high winds caused the aircrew to have to go off duty, thus rebooking me on a PIT-PHL flight that departed some 4 hours later.
South Carolina - too small to be its own country, too big to be a mental asylum.
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RE: Ever See Severe Weather At An Airport Or Infli

Fri Jun 18, 2004 3:56 am

I remember once flying on a school trip to the Isle of man from MAN (a good 8 years ago-more possibly) we hit a crosswind, and Ill never forget this one gust that blew the plane sideways so much, I could see the runway centerline from my window, and we were still turning, we were flying in a ATP, and boy it was one hell of a ride lol, Ill never forget the applause the pilot got for pulling that one off.
Its not the fall that kills u, its the sudden stop at the end..

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