November 15, 2010

Baby, it’s cold outside! Winter weather operations in a chestnut shell

Image courtesy of camardella on Flickr

As much as we may try to fight it off, it’s that time of year again; icy winds and freezing rain, frozen toes and numb noses. Ah yes, there’s also the good stuff like chowing down guilt-free on mom’s baked goods, curling up in front of a fire with the one you love, and watching our favorite holiday specials on TV. The good stuff can be the best, but the bad stuff, well, the bad stuff can be a real pain in the rear. Winter weather can cause delays and cancellations on that much-anticipated escape to somewhere warmer.

A strong polar front expected for this winter means that large storms (à la Snowpocalypse 2009) will be less likely, as they will have less time to build strength in the Mid-Atlantic. However, we can also expect more frequent changes in precipitation types within each storm, which is bad news when it comes to planning ahead. Predictability is our friend as far as weather goes, so having less predictable winter weather makes for a challenging season operationally.

As the type of precipitation changes, so does the time it takes to deice our aircraft. A pure snowstorm is actually the ideal situation in terms of getting our aircraft deiced and ready to fly, since we can quickly clean and treat each plane. Freezing rain and ice pellets are much more troublesome, because they take longer to clean off. Basically, the number of aircraft we can deice per hour depends on the temperature and precipitation. The more predictable the weather, the more reliably we can plan our operation. Small storms with lots of precipitation changes present planning problems similar to summer thunderstorms.

The good news
On the bright side, we have more deicing resources available this winter at New York’s JFK and Boston. Our new procedure of deicing the wings of our aircraft the night before means a much easier fleet launch the next day. As a result, we should be able to you off the ground and to your warm beach more efficiently this year than ever before.

There is potential for a challenging winter, and we will almost certainly have some tough days operationally, but we are as prepared as we can be and will always exercise safety as our number one value.

If you’ like to learn more about the anticipated weather, you can check out the winter forecast from AccuWeather.com. Safe travels and stay warm! We look forward to helping you escape to the tropics this winter!

Related: Who’s Afraid of a Little Snow?

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