A JetBlue flight departed Monday from Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic to Newark Airport, New Jersey.
Normally there wouldn’t be anything unusual about that – except that the plane flew right above the swirling and strong winds of Hurricane Fiona that ravaged the island this week.
The flight path took the plane to the top of the hurricane clouds as it flew back to the US, which could have caused severe turbulence, US authorities said. The Washington Post.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to be on that flight,” Randy Bass, a meteorologist, told the paper.
JetBlue Flight 1016 departed at about 7 p.m. Monday, five hours later than scheduled, according to data from Flightradar24.
Earlier that day, Hurricane Fiona had ravaged the Dominican Republic, leaving much of the country without electricity or running water and many flights cancelled.
Towards evening, as the flight took off, the storm began to move northward and its flight path took it directly above some of the storm’s western clouds.
A JetBlue representative told the After that flight safety is determined by pilots, who consult with experts from the Federal Aviation Administration and their own airline. TSTIME has contacted JetBlue for comment on Monday’s flight.
The flight path recorded on Flightradar24 shows the plane flying at about 34,000 feet (10,300 meters) in the sky — certainly high above the ground, but roughly aligned with the top edge of a hurricane. The storm’s outer edges had clouds up to about 33,000 – 39,000 ft (10,000 – 11,800 m), the After reports.
Flying through even smaller, less powerful thunderstorms can cause unpleasant turbulence during a flight. But John Cox, a retired airline captain, wrote that sometimes flights can pass safely over a hurricane USA today last year.
And, of course, some specialized pilots fly planes directly into hurricanes to study the storms, but usually not with commercial passengers on board.
Hurricane Fiona caused extensive damage in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic when it crossed into the Caribbean earlier this week, including Punta Cana, where this flight departed. Photos showed many damaged or destroyed buildings in the popular resort town.
The storm then turned north and became a major hurricane as it headed toward Bermuda.
From Friday to Saturday, the storm is scheduled to make landfall in Atlantic Canada — where it could be one of the strongest storms to ever hit the country.
Residents of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, as well as parts of Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and the Labrador Peninsula have been asked to prepare for a potentially “historic” storm.
The climate crisis is likely to make hurricanes stronger because it raises ocean and air temperatures — conditions that can trigger powerful storms.