The recent bomb cyclone snowstorm kicked off a comedy of errors at JFK International Airport.
It only took four days to practically shut down JFK airport in New York. It technically started on Wednesday; the East Coast was waiting for the new-to-many bomb cyclone snowstorm to pummel their side of the country the next day. It was fine at the beginning of Thursday too, minus some canceled flights and eventually grounded air traffic because the blizzard was just that bad.
But then things got worse. Much worse. The airport couldn’t reopen as the storm raged on, and JFK officials waited until Friday morning to resume operations. That caused dozens of flights to either be diverted or cancelled—Alex Davies noted in an article for Wired that some flights had to turn around over the Atlantic Ocean and head back to the originating country.
By Friday, the snow had stopped and the airport reopened, but passengers and crew were left all over the world trying to find a way back to New York. So airlines started to send the diverted and canceled flights back to JFK—which means two days of flights all trying to jam into the airport at the same time. The tarmac was a mess of planes, all waiting for gates or a chance to leave, with piles of snow drastically cutting down the available space for planes on the ground. Plus, temperatures stayed below freezing, which meant workers could only be outside for a certain amount of time and equipment kept freezing too.
On Saturday, there was a minor crash: a full jet was clipped by the wing of an empty one getting towed, and the full jet had to be evacuated and both planes moved to a storage spot that there wasn’t room to create in the first place.
Things finally calmed down by Saturday afternoon, with normal operations until one last punch came on Sunday. A water main broke and flooded Terminal 4. Thankfully now everything is clean and working as normal, but airport employees will likely never forget those four torturous days.