The National Academies

ACRP 02-49 [Final]

Addressing Significant Weather Impacts on Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $550,000
Research Agency: ICF Incorporated, LLC
Principal Investigator: Beth Rodehorst/ Adam Klauber
Effective Date: 5/22/2014
Completion Date: 2/29/2016

ACRP Report 160: Addressing Significant Weather Impacts on Airports: Toolkit and User Guide provides a toolkit that raises airport operator awareness about vulnerabilities caused by significant weather events and helps airports develop more robust contingency and recovery plans, in addition to their airport emergency plans. This toolkit focuses on events that are “rare but plausible”; that is, events that may have happened in the distant past, or in adjacent geographic areas, but are not common event types at the airport itself, and therefore may not be in the forefront of the airport managers’ minds.
Development of the toolkit, Airport Weather Advanced REadiness (AWARE), is based on a review of the historical weather data and impacts, as well as best practices and lessons learned from airports’ responses to recent significant weather events. This toolkit will assist airports of various types and sizes and their stakeholders in effectively planning for, responding to, and recovering from significant weather events.

The Excel-based AWARE Toolkit first helps airports identify significant weather event types that they may wish to prepare for, drawing on historical weather data relevant to the airport’s specific location. AWARE also contains seven readiness modules that allow the user to review best practices for preparing for these different weather events, assess their readiness for those events, and generate customized checklists for preparing for and recovering from weather events. The seven modules are: Administration & Finance, Planning & Environment, Airfield Operations, Terminal Operations, Ground Transportation and Parking, Safety and Security, and a consolidated streamlined version of the full toolkit for Small Airports.  The Toolkit also contains the Impacts Tracking Module - a tool to help airports track the costs and other impacts of weather events (e.g., flight delays) over time as events occur.
In recent years, significant weather events, such as tornados, hurricanes, severe precipitation, and extreme temperatures, have caused a variety of impacts to airports. A string of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 brought widespread damage and impacts to the East Coast and Gulf region that adversely affected multiple airports and their infrastructure and operations. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy damaged airport infrastructure along the East Coast and a hailstorm disrupted operations and damaged aircraft in Dallas. In 2011, a tornado caused destruction in St. Louis.

The intensity of significant weather impacts varies depending on the airport and location. Snow may not impact airports in northern states in the same way that it would impact airports in southern states. Conversely, extreme heat may not impact airports in southern states as it would in northern states. With the increase in these significant weather events, it is important for airports to better plan for, respond to, and recover from these events.
Under ACRP Project 02-49, research was conducted by ICF Incorporated, LLC, in association with Burrst, Inc.; Kramer AEROTEK, and Dr. Stephen Barrett. The research team distributed a Significant Weather Impact Survey which sought to understand how airports throughout North America are impacted by significant weather events as well as their readiness for such events. The team conducted interviews with 15 airports and developed case studies from these airports.
The AWARE Toolkit, a Toolkit overview, a brochure, and other supplemental information are available at: 

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