CHICAGO – A massive line of storms ripped through the central and eastern timezone border areas this morning crippling flight operations at multiple major international airports. Air traffic controllers were scrambling to file re-routes for commercial flights keeping them out of the severe weather. Some controllers are still re-routing flights as the line of storms continues to move further east.

The two major airports in the Chicago area, KMDW and KORD were hit hardest by the severe thunderstorms this morning. Lightning, hail and tornadoes were not out of the question as this line of storms unleashed it’s fury on the aviation industry.

At 7:46AM EST this was the scene at Chicago O’Hare while the severe weather was hammering the airfield.

Screenshot Courtesy of the FAA Flight Delay Information Website

Tower controllers at KORD were providing consistent updates to aircraft stuck on the ground unable to depart. Multiple arrivals destined for KORD which left their origin before the severe weather hit were stuck circling and some were forced to divert to KIND, KMKE, and KCMI for fuel reasons. Departures began leaving O’Hare International again at approximately 8AM EST when northbound and westbound tracks from the airfield re-opened.

However, arrivals intended for KORD did not start touching down until 8:25AM EST as AAL1113 from KLAX was the first arrival after the storms passed.

On the other hand, Chicago Midway Airport did not resume flight operations until a bit later in the morning. The first arrival into KMDW touched down at 9:12AM EST after the severe weather left the area. At the time of original publishing a complete ground stop is in effect for KMDW and arrivals into Midway are being held at their origin until 2:15PM EST.

When one of the biggest international airports in the United States and the world experience severe weather and the implementation of the FAA’s Traffic Management program, the ripple effect occurs. This causes delays at every airport which services departures intended for that airport or KORD in this instance. Delays are still being seen all over the country.

Currently, major international airports are still trying to recover from this ripple effect started by Chicago O’Hare and Midway. Newark International Airport also has the Traffic Management program in effect due to a different line of storms but also as a direct effect of the massive delays earlier this morning at KORD and KMDW.

Screenshot courtesy of the FAA Flight Delay Information Website

It is times like this when air traffic controllers from clearance controllers to ARTCC controllers earn their money. Their dedication and hard work re-routing an extremely heavy volume of aircraft around severe weather keeps the aviation industry running as smoothly as possible and keeps passengers safe.

-Aiman Jarrar

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