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Friday, November 21, 2014

SFO Ranks Worst Airport When it Comes to Weather Delays

Posted By on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 7:12 AM

click to enlarge Another foggy landing at the San Francisco International Airport. - ANGELO DESANTIS
  • Angelo DeSantis
  • Another foggy landing at the San Francisco International Airport.

If you haven't already booked your flights for the holidays, you still have time to follow this important advice: Avoid the San Francisco International Airport. Just book your flights out of Oakland, because the Weather Company says so.

That's because SFO is the worst weather-delayed airport in the U.S., according to The Weather Company.

“SFO clocked nearly 168,000 arrivals over the 12-month period (Aug 2013 to July 2014) and nearly 26,000 of those flights had weather-related delays,” said Katherine Wong of the Weather Company in an email. “That means more than half of SFO arrivals experience a weather-related delay.”

This news might surprise you, considering the fact the Bay Area doesn't tend to experience extreme weather conditions — no snow, no hurricanes, and this year, no rain. But a persistent marine layer coupled with low and dense fog (Hi, Karl!) has pushed our airport to the worst place to travel out of 122 national airports reviewed.

“In California, it’s all about the low clouds and fog,” said Jonathon Erdman, a senior meteorologist for the Weather Company, in a video explaining the ranking. “And that is a frequent problem at SFO.”

But Karl the Fog isn’t SFO’s only problem, according to Erdman.

There’s also the issue of spacing between the airport’s runways, which  run parallel, only 750 feet apart. The Federal Aviation Administration requires at least 4,300 feet of space between runways for planes to land side-by-side in low visibility.

SFO does have big plans to increase the distance between runways — so that could help our crappy ranking.  

"We're hoping that when people look up their flight to see whether it's on time or not, they'll notice that it's there," SFO spokesman Doug Yakel told the Chron last year. "We're realistic that there will still be delays due to weather at SFO, but this is chipping away at the problem."

Until that happens,  Bay Area travelers should consider the short jaunt on BART to the Oakland International Airport, which, by the way, was found nowhere on the list of worst airports.

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