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Types of Weather That Cause Travel Headaches

24 Dec 2017, 10:48 am

It’s that time of year again when head back home to see our friends and family. If you’re not within driving range, most likely you’re taking to the skies. However, a major headache about flying is the possibility of a delayed or canceled flight due to the weather. So just what type of weather prompts an airline to delay or cancel flights?

While all planes are designed to takeoff, fly, and land in extreme conditions, many airlines will call for delays or cancellations. Here are some of the main weather culprits that cause travel concerns.

A C-5M Super Galaxy lands on a foggy runway at Travis AFB, Calif., Dec. 10, 2014. The newly-modernized aircraft is the fifth C-5M to return to Travis this year following retrograde and refurbishment. According to Lockheed Martin, the improved strategic airlifter has set 43 world records and established new benchmarks in carrying more cargo faster and farther than any other plane. (Air Force photo/Ken Wright)


Fog can delay your flight because it reduces visibility. Most flights will be delayed until the dense fog lifts.


While winds don’t affect the plane as much once it is in the air, it can cause major issues while taking off and landing. Commercial airplanes have headwind and tailwind maximums set for when they are allowed to takeoff and land.


Aircrafts are not allowed to fly in thunderstorms by law. They must even fly around them by at least 20 miles while in the air. With the help of radars, pilots can easily navigate around thunderstorms with lateral and vertical avoidance.

Snow and Ice

If you’ve ever taken off from a town like Minneapolis during winter, you’ve probably seen a plane de-iced. This is keep frost from forming and causing changes in the airflow of the plane so that it can get the proper lift it needs.

Standing, snow, water or ice on the runway causes delays because it can make the runway extra slick and unsafe for landings and takeoffs due to reduced traction.

Snow can also cause limited visibility for the pilots. It may not even be snowing but fresh snow on the ground plus gusty winds make cause the snow to blow around and create whiteout conditions.

Extreme Heat

While this one may not be as common, many passengers flying to or from Arizona this summer had to deal with it. When highs in places like Phoenix, AZ had highs around 120 degrees Fahrenheit, many airplanes could not operate in that extreme of heat. The heat was affecting both the lift needed for the aircraft to fly and the plane’s engine performance.

For WeatherNation, Meteorologist Kate Mantych

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