First experience near tropical cyclone and diversion


New member
I havn't been on a plane for a while, almost 6 months from now. The last trip was from Newark Liberty Int'l Airport to Houston on Continental flight 63, a 767-200 jet. It was July 10, 2005, a Sunday when Hurricane Dennis landed at the coast of Alabama.

At 3:10p.m. EDT, the pilot notified us that the flight path would go pass a trough 1/3 of the way and it would be a little bumpy over there but didn't tell anything about the hurricane. Probably he knew that everybody noticed that. After we went past the trough over Virginia (clear air, slight turbulence, as I could see everything pretty clear below except some moisture, and somewhat bumpy...), we had a smooth ride all the way to the border of Alabama, when the time was around 4:30p.m. CDT. We were on the patch from north of Atlanta to just north of Jackson, and I could see some very high clouds (tops much higher than the flight level, which was about 31,000ft). Then we went into some dense clouds and the a/c began to shake. Some period of clear sky was experenced. It lasted for about half an hour, and ceased at about central LA. At around 5:30, we were near Houston.

By then, a severe thunderstorm was just over IAH and our plane could not land, and was put to holding loop for 2 turns (I even have a picture of that storm). Finally the pilot said the plane would not have enough fuel(!? that's a 767 though) to stay in the loop and was diverted to Austin. Later we arrived Houston around 9:10p.m. What a long trip....


Forum Mod / Channel 9
With regard to the comment regarding fuel and your surprise there was not enough on a 762, keep in mind planes aren't operated like cars. With our cars, we're used to going to the gas station and just filling up the tank, even if we're only going for a short drive. We figure...we'll use it sooner or later, right? With a plane, fuel loads are calculated carefeully to maximize weight and cost savings. While a 762 with full tanks could likely have circled Houston for a very long time, CO is not going to fill the tanks up for such a short trip. Fuel is heavy, and carrying any uneeded fuel costs a lot of money.

So, the airline uses weight of the plane, passenger and cargo loads, distance and prevailing weather to calculate how much fuel is needed for the trip. Additional amounts are included for diversions or holding for short periods of time. Then, exactly that amount is loaded onto the aircraft. Most weather preventing planes from landing at airports is usually short lived, so a few turns in holding and you can usually land. But, when it takes longer than that, the aircraft is diverted to a nearby field for refueling. These days, it's all about the fuel. And ferrying fuel from one airport to another usually isn't cost effective for the airline.