Saturday, February 17, 2007

Cracked windshields at DIA: How cold was it??

Denver International AirportAbout a dozen aircraft at or near Denver International Airport (DIA) have sustained cracked windshields, presumably from the intense cold.

One  article about the cold weather in Denver, published on CBS News and elsewhere, says that SkyWest Airlines reported cracked windshields on eight planes that were taking off or landing yesterday as wind gusted up to 50 mph. One plane's windshield cracked while it was airborne.

Frontier Airlines also reported cracked windshields on several of its planes. An airline spokesman said that two windshields cracked in flight, and two more cracked on aircraft that were parked at DIA gates.

So how cold was Denver yesterday? It was mostly in the 30s (Fahrenheit), but there were strong winds. In fact, a Denver Post article about yesterday's weather said that "extremely high winds" had been recorded in the area by the National Weather Service:
The foothills and plains can expect winds between 80 and 100 mph for the rest of the day. Denver will experience gusts between 50 and 65 mph today.

The high winds are affecting the areas north of Denver and east of the mountains, all the way to Wyoming and out to Nebraska and Kansas.
The Denver Post article quoted Mike Baker of the National Weather Service, who explained that a jet stream at an altitude of about 30,000 ft had moved directly over Denver, with winds out of the northwest at around 185 mph. A high-pressure system had developed west of the mountains and a low pressure system had developed east of the mountains, causing the air to flow from high to low, like water, creating strong winds near the surface.

Wind-chill aside, DIA officials say they are "baffled" by all those cracked windshields.