This year, 2011, will go down as the year of unlearned meteorological lessons. The same nightmares keep playing over and over.
Remember how ill-prepared Lambert International was on Good Friday when the tornado moved through the north St. Louis area and seriously damaged the airport? Remember how people were trapped on airplanes when the storm struck?
Well, that too, has happened again.
Tonight, it was Omaha’s Eppley Field.
The data below are the official weather observations from 7:25 to 7:47pm CDT (the observations are in GMT [Z] on the 19th; for example, 0035Z = 7:35pm CDT).
At 7:31 and 7:35 the winds were measured by the airport weather station as gusting to 80 knots which equals 92 mph!
The screen capture below is from a video shot inside an airplane (loaded with passengers) waiting to take off as baseball-sized hail is pounding the aircraft. The video can be viewed here. As the hail pelts the airliner, a second plane, taxiing, comes into view as seen below.
|Screen capture from YouTube video.
What in the world were these planes doing with passengers on board during storms with baseball-sized hail and 92 mph winds?! The passengers should have been in a safe area inside the terminal! The area was under both a tornado watch and a severe thunderstorm warning.
Eppley had to be closed for three hours due to the damage to the airport! Seven aircraft were damaged
. Knowing something about this subject, that damage will, in total, run well into the tens of millions of dollars to repair the aircraft, not to mention the lost revenue and inconvenience of the cancelled flights caused by not having the damaged aircraft in service.
And, according to KETV
, a Southwest Airlines’ pilot was injured during the storm and had to be taken to the hospital.
Last week, I had dinner in Jacksonville with a retired airline pilot. We were both in agreement that airline meteorology has not kept up with the rest of the science.
As I wrote back in April
, after the St. Louis fiasco: This will keep happening over and over until someone gets killed. Why? Because the Federal Aviation Administration does not have tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings in the aviation database and the airlines do not seek out that information. So, their crews, airliners, and innocent passengers are left to fend for themselves.
This practice is indefensible and it needs to stop.