Seattle Tacoma International (SEA) flights delayed Feb 9, 2019

Flights to and from Seattle Tacoma International (SEA) are being delayed for approximately 4 hours and 33 minutes because weather conditions at the airport are too dangerous to safely land flights on the normal schedule.

The FAA has issued a “ground stop” for all flights to Seattle Tacoma International meaning that no new flights heading for this airport are allowed to leave at this time.

This post is updated every 15 minutes. All times are listed in local time for the airport.

Will my flight be impacted?

Probability your flight will be impacted based on how far in the future it is scheduled to leave:

60 Minutes Three Hours Six Hours
HIGH HIGH HIGH

The airport is currently experiencing delays due to the presence of snow and ice on the runways and airport surface. These conditions are not expected to improve quickly and will likely continue throughout the day.

It is very likely that your flight may be delayed or canceled even after the snow has stopped.

Why Is This Happening?

Here are the current weather conditions at Seattle Tacoma International and an overview of what is required for “normal” operations:

Normal Current
Conditions Clear Light snow fog
Visibility Greater than 2 0.5
Wind Less than 11.8 MPH 14.1 MPH
Clouds Higher than 1,000 Overcast at 0

Visibility is currently 0.5 statute miles, which is less than the normal 2 statute miles needed for aircraft to safely see each other and the runway during landing. The clouds are currently 0 feet off the ground, while flights typically need at least 1,000 feet to safely land on the normal schedule.

The current snow is forecast to end by 2:00 AM on 2/9.

Snow and ice are pretty much the worst case scenario for airplanes. The snow reduces visibility making it difficult to land, and ice on the runways can make it difficult for airplanes to slow down and stop. In these situations air traffic control will reduce the number of airplanes taking off and landing to give flights more time to safely clear the runway and move between the runway and the terminal. Even after the snow has stopped and the weather has started to improve it may take a significant amount of time to clean the ice and snow from the runway.

Here’s what the current aviation forecast says will happen over the next few hours for the cloud cover:

Change From To Time
Raise 0 3,000 2:00 AM on 2/9
Raise 3,000 5,000 6:00 AM on 2/9

Here’s what the current aviation forecast says will happen over the next few hours for the visibility:

Change From To Time
Increase 0.5 6.21 2:00 AM on 2/9

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