Fatal California wildfires cause flight delays
Hours-long delays ongoing at San Francisco Airport.
Nearly two dozen devastating and deadly wildfires have blazed a trail through eight Californian counties since Sunday, as the National Weather Service forecasts increasingly gusty winds which could escalate the disaster.
The fires raging across northern California are on their way to becoming the deadliest and most destructive in the state’s history. At least 23 people have been killed and more people and communities are said to be at risk.
Both major and regional airports have experienced a raft of delays and cancellations as a result of thick smoke billowing into the air from the burning of exceedingly dry forests and acres of ravaged wineries below.
A ground delay program was enacted at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on Wednesday, with 80 flights canceled and around one in four services delayed, averaging 60 to 75 minutes, due to poor visibility.
The canceled flights were evenly split between arrivals and departures, according to an SFO spokesperson.
Due to poor weather conditions and low visibility, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) extended its traffic program for arrivals into SFO today, causing some flights to be delayed an average of 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Of the 2,800 scheduled departures and arrivals at SFO on Thursday, 39 flights have officially been canceled.
The FAA also warned general aviation pilots and drone operators of new flight restrictions across California, effective for the next month, put in place to “provide a safe environment for fire fighting aircraft operations”.
— The FAA (@FAANews) October 12, 2017
San Jose International Airport and Oakland International Airport have not reported on further delays.
There are thousands of wineries located across California. So far, 12 major vineyards have been damaged or affected by the relentless blazes, particularly those growers based in Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma counties.
The National Weather Service has warned of persistent “critical fire conditions” in the area for the next three days, anticipating dry winds from the north of up to 35 miles per hour and no relief from rain anytime soon.
Earlier this week, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in several northern counties.
If you are travelling in or through the affected area, check both airport and airline travel advisories for updates.
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