RDU is Storm Ready

Snow, ice, thunderstorms, fog and even hurricanes can wreak havoc on flight schedules and interrupt or delay the most carefully prepared travel plans. At RDU, we don’t just expect weather interruptions, we prepare for them. That’s why we’re excited to be named by the National Weather Service as a StormReady® Community.

About StormReady®

National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Nick Petro (2nd from left) presents the Storm Ready Community sign to RDU President and CEO Mike Landguth, Operations Staff Don Atkinson, Duane Legan and John Graves and Board Chairman Dickie Thompson at the July Airport Authority Board Meeting.

National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Nick Petro (2nd from left) presents the Storm Ready Community sign to (left to right) RDU President and CEO Mike Landguth, Operations Staff Don Atkinson, Duane Legan and John Graves and Board Chairman Dickie Thompson at the July Airport Authority Board Meeting.

The StormReady® program equips communities to prepare for severe storm impacts with both communication and safety skills needed to protect lives and property before, during and after a storm’s impact.

Criteria for being named a StormReady® community includes:

  • Having multiple ways to receive weather information
  • Having thorough severe weather preparation plans
  • Educating the community on severe weather preparations

More than 2,300 cities, counties and communities in the United States have been designated by the National Weather Service as Storm Ready. Included in that group are just 17 airports, and we’re honored to be included in that number.

Past Impacts

Damage from a severe storm in 1996 caused Midway Airlines to temporarily relocate check-in to the Terminal C Bag Claim.

Damage from a microburst in 1996 caused Midway Airlines to temporarily relocate check-in to the Terminal C Bag Claim.

We’ve seen major impacts by severe storms before at RDU. Perhaps you remember one of these storm events:

  • In 1996, a microburst damaged the roof of Terminal C, causing extensive damage to the ticketing area. Ticketing operations were relocated to the bag claim area while repairs were made.
  • In 2000, more than 20” of snow fell on the airport in less than 24 hours causing many operational impacts.
  • In late 2003 a severe storm blew out several windows in Terminal A and caused damage to vehicles.

Being Prepared

Airport managers attend a weather briefing in 2014 to discuss the possible impacts of Tropical Storm Arthur at RDU.

Airport managers attend a weather briefing in 2014 to discuss the possible impacts of Tropical Storm Arthur at RDU.

We know that severe weather is likely to occur again, and we’ve invested in having plans in place when seconds count in making potentially life-saving decisions. Throughout the year, our operations team engages our airlines, concessions and other business partners in severe weather planning through training and other outreach activities.

In preparation for storms, we coordinate closely with the National Weather Service directly. We also begin watching the radar and monitoring local media forecasts. In the event of a hurricane or winter weather, we also hold briefings with representatives from those who operate at RDU to discuss preparations at the airport.

Having a Plan

Once severe weather is imminent, we activate our severe weather plan, which guides those working at RDU as to what preparations to take. It includes guidance on everything from closing the ramps due to lightning to evacuating the concourses to an interior shelter in the event of a tornado threat.

Our goal is simple. We want to keep everyone safe and to return flight operations to normal as quickly as possible once the severe weather passes. Being a StormReady® community helps us reach that goal.

Related Reading: How Storms Impact RDU Operations

About Andrew Sawyer

Andrew Sawyer is the External Communication Specialist for the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority and is the main writer for RDU’s website, electronic communication and airport publications. He’s also the primary face behind RDU’s social media channels. Andrew also assists with many other things, from media relations to event planning. In fact, he has an advanced degree in "other duties as assigned."
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