Have hung around some of the aviation interest groups (like airliners.net) and tried to research this but haven't found very clear answers.

Typically when a hurricane (tropical, peak wind-speed in excess of 100 mph) makes landfall, it sheds most of it's energy and water near the coast-line, however the rainfall and wind-speed heat-map (that is elevated beyond the seasonal average) may be over a very large area. Also a hurricane might move at a speed such that the weather conditions might change the large area (covered by the heat-map) over 2-3 days.

So, my questions in view of the above understanding are:

  • Whether normal flight operations continue (barring the to/from the airports that are directly under the hurricane path), in this vast other region that is part of the heatmap? (Say with airports in areas showing rainfall up to 3 inches, and windspeeds upto 50-60 mph.)
  • If commercial airlines do operate in such weather, what should I expect the ride to be like?
  • What are the chances of such flights being diverted?

Here is the WebCite archived webpage (so this link won't go away) of Weather.com that I am referring to.

PS. I plan to take a flight from Bangalore to Delhi to Kathmandu, on Monday, as the tropical cyclone (as it is called here in Indian subcontinent) is about to make landfall on the eastern coast of India around noon, and we are expecting upto 3 inches of rainfall and winds upto 60mph here on Monday morning.

I wanted to see if I should seriously consider rescheduling flights. A call to my airline customer-care yielded no useful information, and they seemed rather clueless. I read in the local newspaper that train services are being shutdown in the affected area, although it seems to be more like trains that pass through the area with the maximum impact.


1 Answer 1


The cross-wind limit is 35-40 knots for most aircraft with gusts allowed to perhaps 45 or so. The head-wind limit is slightly higher, but not much.

Knot is nautical mile per hour. Nautical mile is 1.852 km, that is 1.15 mile (and for those who prefer metric, knot is just a bit over ½ m/s). So wind more than 40 miles/hour may interrupt airport operations and wind more than 50 miles/hour likely will. If the wind is aligned well with the runways, 60–70 miles/hour can be tolerated, but it usually becomes too gusty at that point and prevent operations anyway. I don't think there is a specific limit for rain; it is generally not a big problem if the runways are in good condition.

Problem is that good local forecasts are possible for at most around 24 hours. So it's not possible to tell whether it is likely there will be disruption of operations the day after tomorrow.

For one day ahead, the airport forecasts are publicly available on the internet. Search for TAF ("terminal aerodrome forecast") with the ICAO (the 4-letter one) code of the airport. They are published in strange abbreviations, but there are sites that will happily decode it for you.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Jan, for the perfect answer. Typing this from the Mumbai airport :) and flights are on. The east coast (of India) though, has started taking the pounding! $\endgroup$
    – bdutta74
    Oct 12, 2014 at 6:21
  • $\begingroup$ Might I add that that's an amazing tip - search for TAF & the ICAO code! Just looked it up, and been reading all about it past 15 minutes. Thanks again. $\endgroup$
    – bdutta74
    Oct 12, 2014 at 6:29

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