Damaging winds associated with the rapidly intensifying nor’easter along the east coast of the U.S. virtually shut down Washington, D.C., on Friday, with the federal government and most school districts closing to protect people from falling trees and power lines.
The storm, which is undergoing a process known as bombogenesis, in which the minimum central air pressure drops by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours, is creating a wind tunnel across the Mid-Atlantic.
The air is rushing between the offshore low pressure area and a high pressure area inland, leading to winds gusting to near 70 miles per hour in the Washington metro area. This is making for some rocky flights in and out of the region.
A pilot report from the captain of a Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet approaching Dulles on Friday morning indicates just how bad flying conditions have been. Pilots often file pilot reports, also known as PIREPS, when they encounter turbulence. Typically they are in code, and indicate the level of turbulence encountered.
The PIREP on Friday, though, was direct, and a bit shocking. Look at the first PIREP in this list from the D.C. area.
It’s unclear which airline was operating this plane.
Here’s a closer look, from a tweet via the Weather Channel’s Stu Ostro:
The pilot reported the following in plain English: “Turbulence moderate to severe… very bumpy on descent. Pretty much everyone on the plane threw up, pilots were on the verge of throwing up.”
Winds at Dulles have been consistently gusting above 50 miles per hour on Friday, and such strong winds are likely to continue throughout much of the day and into the evening as the intense storm meanders just off the coast of southern New England.
The winds even forced President Donald Trump to take a motorcade to Dulles Airport instead of the usual departure point of Andrews Air Force Base, due to the fact that Dulles has a runway that is aligned with the wind direction. Crosswinds at Andrews Air Force Base would’ve made takeoff there unsafe.
He likely had a heckuva takeoff from Dulles.