As Hurricane Irma barreled through the South, Delta Air Lines Inc. announced 800 flight cancellations from its main hub in Atlanta.
That was no surprise, but the airline in an update Monday morning also gave a brief explanation of the weather factors that made the decision so clear.
The culprits are the expected 40-mile-per-hour crosswinds, those that run perpendicular to the runways. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s five parallel runways are oriented from east to west. Irma, now a tropical storm, is bringing largely north-south gusts of up to 80 miles per hour, according to projections.
Delta explains why pilots find this hard to manage:
Aircraft are best suited to take off and land into the wind for better performance. When the wind direction is perpendicular to the runway, it’s called a crosswind and can make landing challenging and potentially unsafe. A slight crosswind is allowable and can be safely managed, but a 40 mph or greater crosswind, as the storm is expected to bring in Atlanta, may exceed allowable limits.
Other factors including wind shear and lightning could cause additional cancellations, the airline said.
In that update, Delta added that it’s beginning to restore service to some parts of Florida and the Caribbean where the storm has already passed.
Delta is allowing passengers to three dozen affected destinations to change itineraries without incurring fees. It’s also operating humanitarian flights like the one planned to lift 150 American citizens out of hard-hit St. Maarten Monday.
Find more updates on Delta schedules in Florida, Georgia and the Caribbean here.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is urging passengers to follow the @ATLAirport Twitter account and check with airlines for the latest updates.
MARTA trains are not running today, and Uber has also canceled its ride-sharing services in the Atlanta service area for Sept. 11.