DENVER (CBS4) – With a High Wind Warning in effect on Wednesday, more than 500 flights were delayed at Denver International Airport. More than 100 were also canceled.
— Lindz (@Lindz5280) December 15, 2021
The airport confirmed in the morning that fewer runways were in use than normal due to the weather conditions. Due to an FAA order, only two of the airport’s six runways were in use during the windiest parts of the morning.
“Please check your flight status with your airline before heading to the airport. We’re expecting high winds throughout the day, which will most likely cause delays,” the airport wrote on Twitter at the start of the day.
Please check your flight status with your airline before heading to the airport. We're expecting high winds throughout the day, which will most likely cause delays. #cowx 🍃
— Denver Int'l Airport (@DENAirport) December 15, 2021
The FAA lifted the ground delay just after 4:30 Wednesday afternoon, and the airport reopened all of its runways.
Tyler Bachelder, an associate professor in the Department of Aviation and Aerospace Science at Metropolitan State University, says planes can’t take off or land if crosswinds are too high – direction is critical.
“A lot of those big airplanes have crosswind limitations,” explained Bachelder. “For four of the runways, the wind was basically perpendicular to the runways. The other two runways that remained open were aligned more closely with the wind.”
Bachelder says it’s easier for airplanes to take off and land directly into the wind instead of into a direct crosswind. Even if the planes could take off, it wouldn’t be a very pleasant ride.
“Back in 2008, you might remember the Continental 1404 crash where the airplane went off the side of the runway, which was attributed to a gusty crosswind very similar to what we saw today,” said Bachelder.
Many travelers whose flights got canceled Wednesday will try to rebook on Thursday. If you have a flight at DIA Thursday, plan to give yourself more time than usual to get to your gate.
“It’s an inconvenience for a lot of passengers, but it’s all in the name of safety. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters,” said Bachelder.
The website FlightAware.com constantly tracks delays and flight cancellations at Denver International Airport, which goes by the airport code DEN and is known to locals in Colorado as DIA.
Get current information about DEN flights at flightaware.com.
Visit the airport’s website at flydenver.com.