Dozens of Northeast airports were closed on Tuesday and facilities received severe and widespread damage as Hurricane Sandy continued to rip through the East Coast, causing dangerous flooding, high winds and major power outages throughout the region, as well as a massive disruption of air travel that has triggered ripple effects across the globe.
In the New York area, LaGuardia, JFK, Teterboro and Newark were all closed. Up the coast of Long Island, Connecticut airports in New Haven, Bridgeport, Groton/New London and were also shut down.
The superstorm – which has already been blamed for more than 30 deaths in the Northeast as well as more than 60 in the Caribbean – made landfall Monday night on the coast of New Jersey. In addition to causing significant coastal flooding in southern New Jersey, the storm also brought storm tides of record-breaking proportions to New York City. On Monday, the city experienced a whopping 13.88 feet of storm tide at the Battery, a number that topples the prior 11.2 feet record set in 1821.
A call to Jet Aviation at Teterboro Airport confirmed that floodwaters from a broken levee in the nearby town of Moonachie had swamped the airport, with water covering the runways, ramps and parking lots. Water levels in the towns surrounding Teterboro were reportedly at depths of four to five feet.
At low-lying Sikorsky Memorial Airport (KBDR) in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the airport was also shut down. Flying spoke with the airport manager, who told us there was substantial damage across the facility, from “airside to structural” caused by wind and water. The runways, he said, were under water.
At New Haven/Tweed and Groton/New London, phones went unanswered, and runways were closed until further notice by notam. There were certainly dozens of other low-lying airports in the region shut down by high water that have yet to be heard from. The damage to facilities and aircraft is sure to number in the many billions of dollars.
The storm also shut down operations at some of the nation’s busiest airports on Monday and Tuesday, leaving thousands of passengers stranded worldwide. By Monday evening, nearly 14,000 airline flights had been canceled, a number that surpasses the flight disruption count of Hurricane Irene last year, and one that is expected to grow in the coming days as Sandy’s effects continue.
JFK-based JetBlue alone canceled 77 percent of its scheduled flights on Monday, sheltering many of its aircraft in Florida to wait out the storm’s havoc. Other carriers followed suit, with US Airways canceling over half of its scheduled service on Monday and Delta canceling more than 2,000 flights initially scheduled for departure Sunday through Tuesday.