No matter how well you prepare for a flight, there is one factor that even the most well-prepared traveler cannot control: Mother Nature. Is it safe to fly through a storm? We address your concerns about flying in inclement weather and whether or not you should be concerned. Spoiler alert: Your aircraft has been meticulously engineered to enable a safe landing in practically any weather condition.
Should we really be flying in rainstorms?
Here’s the deal. Many people get goosebumps at the prospect of flying in torrential downpours. However, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) will guarantee your safety. The FAA requires all aircraft to meet certain safety standards, including the ability to withstand an old-school thunderstorm. Flying through clouds, especially when it’s raining cats and dogs, may have you drinking your beverages faster than you expected – but your plane is built to withstand a heavy rainstorm.
The only exception to this rule is freezing rain, which can cause ice to build up on the wings faster than a de-icing solution can dissolve it. In that case, you will not take off.
What if a plane gets hit by lightning?
Lightning is one of the most common concerns people have when flying in bad weather. We’re sorry to burst your bubble, but every single passenger plane in the United States is struck by lightning about once a year. As you might expect, if lightning posed a serious threat to aircraft, you would have heard about it by now. Airline passengers are safe from in-flight lightning strikes, in the same way that you are safe in a car if it is hit by a bolt as long as you are not touching the metal frame.
Lightning’s electrical current will travel from its origin point along the metal body of your plane and then exit (likely at the tail). Inside the plane, you are shielded by a design that ensures you and your seat are not electrical conductors.
How much wind is too much wind?
We’ve all had the experience of a leaping stomach during periods of turbulence in the air. Wind does not always cause in-flight bumps and jostles, but aircraft turbulence can be caused by a strong jet stream or a windy storm. The good news is that flying in high winds is normally safe, even if it means spilling your drinks or being unable to use the lavatory for a long. Winds are only a factor during takeoff and landing if they are crosswinds. Even so, your plane can survive winds of up to 25 knots (or roughly 30 mph) blowing over the runway.
Flying through a storm isn’t that horrible after all. We can’t promise you won’t need to have your barf bag nearby, but you’ll get there just fine. Best wishes on your journey!
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