Planes grounded for longer at Miami, Fort Lauderdale airports because of thunderstorms

A person is seen pushing their car through a flooded portion of Northeast 11th Street in downtown Miami as lightning and heavy rain falls over the area on Monday, June 19, 2023.

A person is seen pushing their car through a flooded portion of Northeast 11th Street in downtown Miami as lightning and heavy rain falls over the area on Monday, June 19, 2023.

mocner@miamiherald.com

Incoming and outgoing flights at Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport were grounded Monday evening because of thunderstorms, according to the National Airspace System Status.

The Federal Aviation Administration had initially declared a ground stop from 5:32 to 7 p.m. Monday at MIA with a “medium probability of extension” of 30 to 60%. The grounding had been extended to 8 p.m., then to 9 p.m., with a 30 to 60 percent chance of further extensions, the agency said.

The 6 p.m. update indicated departures from Miami International were delayed “an avg. 75 mins. (and increasing)“ because of the bad weather. The 6:27 p.m. update said flights were delayed “an avg. 60 mins. (and decreasing).“ At 6:45 p.m., delays were an average of 30 minutes By 8 p.m., the FAA website showed no information on flight delays.

In Broward, the FAA initially issued the airplane grounding from 5:44 to 7 p.m. Monday, also with a “medium probability of extension” of 30 to 60%. Similar to MIA, the grounding was first extended to 8 p..m, then to 9 p.m., with a 30 to 60 percent chance of further extensions, the agency said.

As of 9:10 p.m., the FAA had not updated its website to indicate whether planes were still grounded at MIA and FLL airports but it noted there was a possibility of the grounding extending to 10 p.m.

For the first two hours or so, the flights impacted at both airports were mainly coming from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta, and Dallas and Houston. At 8 p.m., that changed to the flights mainly coming from the Southeast United States, including Houston and northern Florida, and parts of the Caribbean.

Additionally, the FAA issued a ground stop for Orlando International Airport until 9:15 p.m. Monday, with a low probability of extension of less than 30%. The federal agency pointed to the thunderstorms and “traffic management” as its reasoning for the grounding there; the latter likely means the airport got affected by the delays and cancellations south.

The flights impacted at Orlando were mainly coming from Houston, Atlanta, Washington, New York as well as South Florida. Flights were delayed, on average, 60 minutes, the FAA said.

During ground stops, airports stop receiving and sending traffic. Flights are then either rerouted, delayed, or canceled.

The National Weather Service in Miami issued issued flash flood and severe thunderstorm warnings from Miami Beach to Sweetwater, and stretching as far south as Cutler Bay, at different times throughout Monday afternoon.

The chance of precipitation for the evening is 60%, according to the latest forecast.

Miami International Airport tweeted about the inclement weather affecting travel plans and soon got replies about stranded passengers. It’s unclear how many people were affected in total.

Angela Vera, 65, said she was supposed to fly from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to Miami at 8 p.m. Monday, but her flight got canceled at about 4 p.m.

Vera and her husband, Reinaldo, 74, frantically searched for other flights. Eventually, American Airlines placed him on a return flight at 4 p.m. Tuesday and placed her on a flight at 4 p.m. Wednesday, but the airline declined their requests to upgrade their tickets.

“I feel super bad, because I am a gold member, and they didn’t even have the courtesy to move me to first class,” Vera said. “They didn’t even tell us it was because of the weather.”

This story was originally published June 19, 2023, 6:31 PM.

Jimena Tavel covers higher education for the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald. She’s a bilingual reporter with triple nationality: Honduran, Cuban and Costa Rican. Born and raised in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, she moved to Florida at age 17. She earned her journalism degree from the University of Florida in 2018, and joined the Herald soon after.

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