Dense fog that forced Sea-Tac to ground flights will give way to heavy rain. Here’s how to breeze through holiday travel
Rain is returning to the Seattle area just in time for one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, after a thick blanket of fog grounded flights at Sea-Tac Airport on Tuesday morning.
Seattle may get more rain over the next two days than it has received in all of November so far as a storm system pushes in from the Pacific, according to the National Weather Service. The city is expected to receive anywhere from 0.55 inches to 1.25 inches of precipitation on Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day after recording less than an inch since the start of the month, according to the agency’s forecast.
Heavy fog early Tuesday forced Sea-Tac Airport to suspend hundreds of departures and divert some arrivals to nearby airports. As of 2:30 p.m., visibility had improved to allow the resumption of flights, although the airport had to work to clear a three-hour backlog of flights, according to Perry Cooper, a spokesman for the Port of Seattle. That delay had caused hundreds of people to cram into the limited spaces available at the gates, causing heavy congestion that persisted into the afternoon.
“For us to have (the fog) last that long is pretty unusual,” Cooper said. “Basically it’s because we didn’t have any wind to blow it out.”
Flightaware.com, a flight-tracking website, reported almost 400 delayed flights and 57 canceled flights at Sea-Tac Airport.
But travelers worried about fog can relax because it’s unlikely to last past Tuesday. Rain was expected to roll in as early as Tuesday night, after one of the driest starts to November on record, according to the weather service.
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“We are looking at a wet Thanksgiving,” said Dustin Guy, a National Weather Service meteorologist. “Very breezy as well, and by dinnertime it should be raining very significantly.”
November is typically the wettest month of the year, and usually at this point in the month Seattle would have received more than 4 inches of rain, according to Guy. The average for the entire months is closer to 7 inches of precipitation.
Whatever the weather, here’s how to smooth your holiday air-travel plans by following some tips from the Port of Seattle:
- Need updates on what’s happening at the airport? Text “update” to 206-347-8045 or use the Sea-Tac Airport app to review wait times and find your flight and terminal. Sea-Tac is also piloting visitor passes, so friends and family can wait at the gates without buying a ticket. The Port of Seattle suggests to arrive early to drop off or pick up, especially if there might be rain in the foreseeable future.
- The Port of Seattle suggests travelers use light rail and other alternatives to avoid the traffic and congestion of the arrival and departure roadways. But if you have to drive, keep in mind peak congestion occurs between 4:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. for departures and then again at 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for both departures and arrivals. And then arrivals again backs up from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
- “Think opposite.” Pick people up at departures instead of arrivals and vice versa, the Port suggests.