Addressing Significant Weather Impacts on Airports

In recent years, significant weather events such as tornadoes, 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, super-storm 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 its 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. The objective of this research is to develop a toolkit that: (1) raises airport operator awareness about vulnerabilities caused by significant weather events; (2) helps airports develop more robust contingency and recovery plans, in addition to their airport emergency plans; and (3) describes impact prevention and mitigation strategies. The toolkit will be 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. The toolkit will assist airports of a variety of types and sizes and their stakeholders in effectively planning for, responding to, and recovering from significant weather events. This toolkit will address airport infrastructure, safety, security, emergency management, operations, maintenance, business continuity, financial, and environmental issues among others and may include, but not be limited to: (1) a method to determine an airport's current exposure of different significant weather events; (2) a set of queries that airport operators can use to self-assess the airport's capabilities and needs; (3) sample plans that may include checklists, templates, process flow diagrams, etc.; (4) a set of methods to effectively communicate and collaborate with airport stakeholders, both on and off airport (e.g., airlines, concessions, fixed base operators, local government agencies, etc.); a set of local and system-wide impact prevention and mitigation strategies; and (5) an after action protocol to document lessons learned. The research plan should include appropriate interim deliverables, including, at a minimum: (1) a review of significant weather events (e.g., tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, hail and ice storms, temperature extremes, severe precipitation, wildfires, volcanic ash, drought, etc.) across the United States over the last 10 to 15 years to raise airport operator's awareness about their potential vulnerability to different significant weather events; (2) at least 10 representative case studies that document how airports and their stakeholders have planned for, responded to, and recovered from significant weather events; (3) an interim report that describes work done in early tasks which includes an outline and detailed plan for the development of a toolkit with prototypes of sample toolkit elements; (4) a first draft of the toolkit for review and approval by the panel prior to testing; and (5) a test to validate the toolkit at select airports to get feedback on the effectiveness and utility for airport practitioners and their stakeholders. The research plan should build in appropriate checkpoints with the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) panel, including at a minimum (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed, (2) one face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting, and (3) review of the first draft of the toolkit, as well as web-enabled teleconferences tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables deemed appropriate. The final deliverables will include: (1) a toolkit that meets the requirements as stated in the objective and emphasizes impact prevention and mitigation strategies; (2) a PowerPoint presentation that summarizes the details of the toolkit useful for future webinars; and (3) a contractor's final report that documents the entire research effort, including any assumptions used and the research team's recommendation of research needs and priorities for additional related research.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 02-49

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Aviation Administration

    800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  United States  20591

    Airport Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Project Managers:

    Schatz, Theresia

  • Performing Organizations:

    ICF Incorporated LLC

    9300 Lee Highway
    Fairfax, VA  United States  22031
  • Principal Investigators:

    Klauber, Adam

  • Start Date: 20140522
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20160121
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37684

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01543542
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 02-49
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 18 2014 1:01AM