Hurricane Matthew

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This resource page was created by NBAA’s Air Traffic Services (ATS) staff based at the FAA Air Traffic Control System Command Center. It is meant as a starting place where members can find guidance on how Hurricane Matthew is affecting the National Airspace System, but ultimately they should refer to the Additional Resources section of this page for the most up-to-date information. NBAA ATS staff will update this page daily until the storm has abated.

Latest Update From NBAA ATS

Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, 4:30 p.m. ET

As of noon Sunday, Matthew has been labeled a post-tropical cyclone. Operators should exercise caution however, because Matthew is still producing hurricane force winds at its center. The tropical storm force winds associated with Matthew are still reaching well over 100 miles from the center of the storm, which was about 100 miles east of Cape Hatteras, NC at noon on Sunday.

The strong winds and bands of rain and thunderstorms will have slight impacts on traffic along the east coast through Monday afternoon as it continues to move east. Route closures due to storms and turbulence are possible until the storm finally dissipates as it is caught up in the cold front that passed off shore Sunday morning.

Matthew's hurricane force winds, flooding rains and storm surges have left a path of destruction in its wake. Numerous airports closed during the passage. While most have reopened, there are still a few closures as of Sunday afternoon. Due to the extensive path of destruction, we are encouraging operators to check NOTAMs for airport status and call FBOs to confirm services before departing into the path of Matthew. While airports may be open, they may have difficulty staffing them due to destruction of infrastructure like roads, closures of bridges or lack of public transportation.

There were several FDC NOTAMs for Airspace Coordination Areas along the Florida, Georgia and Carolina coastlines. These do not restrict access to the airspace, but are to support a safe environment for ongoing disaster response and recovery flights. They are to encourage pilots to exercise extreme caution due to these operations. They will likely be canceled over the next 12-24 hours.

The FAA Command Center has discontinued their hurricane telcons, so NBAA's ATS will be discontinuing scheduled Matthew updates to the NBAA Airspace Alerts. ATS will continue to monitor Matthew until it no longer poses a threat, but this will likely be the last update for this page.

Hurricane Impacts

  • Winds – It is important to remember that tropical storm force winds (34-63 knots) can reach 100 or more miles from the center (eye) of a storm. This means that winds from a hurricane can impact operations long before the center makes landfall. This also means that a storm can have a significant impact without the center ever making it over land. Also, if winds are forecast to be at or above Cat-I strength (64-82 knots), the radars will have to be allowed to weather-vane in order to prevent damage. This means that a technician has to go out and perform this task long enough in advance to keep them safe from the high winds.
  • Storm Surge – The circulation of these massive storms also push significant amounts of water inland, which can cause significant flooding. This can be an issue for low lying airports such as Miami International Airport (MIA; 9 feet above sea level) or Fort Lauderdale Executive (FXE; 13 feet above sea level). Flooding can also disrupt disruptions to ground transportation systems (highways, buses, trains, etc.), which can prevent employees from getting to air traffic facilities.
  • Thunderstorms – The outer bands of these large storms contain numerous thunderstorms, which are more likely than normal to spawn tornadoes.

Operational Notes

  • Depending on the magnitude of the hurricane, a recovery TFR will go into effect approximately 24 hours prior to the storm’s eye making landfall. At that time, the primary concern of the people in the FAA's Event Management Center (EMC) is the evacuation of people from the hurricane’s path. Once the storm hits and dissipates, the priority then changes to search and rescue operations.
  • If an air traffic facility is evacuated and unoccupied before the hurricane arrives, it is considered to be at ATC Zero status. A tower at ATC Zero status does not close the airfield. Instead, it reverts to an uncontrolled airfield. Only the airport management can signal via notice to airmen (NOTAM) that the airport is closed or open. If an enroute or Tracon facility has to be shut down, another facility generally picks up that traffic.
  • NBAA strongly encourages operators to check NOTAMs and call FBOs (or local contacts for trips outside the U.S.) before departing on trips to airports in the path of this storm.

Additional Operational Resources

  • National Hurricane Center – The best source for up-to-date information on the location, intensity and expected track of the hurricane.
  • Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale – This scale offers a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane's sustained wind speed. This scale estimates potential property damage. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage. Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous, however, and require preventative measures.
  • National Hurricane Center-Atlantic on Twitter – Get breaking updates, analyses, forecasts and warnings of tropical cyclones and disturbances over the Atlantic basin.
  • NBAA Air Traffic Services on Twitter – Get updates from NBAA’s airspace/air traffic experts right in your Twitter feed by following @NBAA_ATS.

NBAA Humanitarian Emergency Response Operator (HERO) Database

Business aviation has long served as a lifeline to people and communities in crisis. That's because business aircraft can reach locations impacted by natural disasters, when airliners and sometimes even automobiles cannot. Business aircraft can operate on short notice into outlying airports with small runways, and sometimes unpaved airstrips, or even onto roads – they are uniquely suited to providing a first response to natural disasters and other emergencies.

The NBAA Humanitarian Emergency Response Operator (HERO) database is a list of people in the business aviation community who are part of disaster-response mobilization efforts. In the aftermath of major crises, basic information from the database is provided to organizations coordinating relief efforts. Learn more about the HERO database.

Register to volunteer yourself and your company’s aircraft in the HERO database: