Worst wind speed at which an airport can operate safely

Yesterday, I had a look at the weather report here in Abu Dhabi, where it had been windy, cloudy and looked like it would rain for the past two days (in fact, it was so cold that even though I was wearing a pair of jeans and I was in the middle of the urban areas, my legs felt like they were nearly frozen!) and here is what it showed for 4-5 pm:
Wind: 42 kilometres per hour
Temperature: 14 degrees Celcius
Visibility: 6 km

And that got me thinking: was Abu Dhabi Airport still operating at the moment? And what is the worst weather at which an airport can operate?

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How can you be freezing at 14°

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That is cold. Don’t quite understand where you are getting that from?

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Yeah its like -14°C here lol.


Tbh, I have no idea how high the wind needs to be for an airport to be shut down.

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I felt like I was freezing because I am used to temperatures like 28-40 degrees Celcius here in Abu Dhabi.

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Airports don’t really close though… where I live, delays start at about 35kts and diversions at about 40… although there are some pilots who try anyways! I recall during Hurricane Sandy that there was a 757 that took off in 38 kt winds with gusts up to 58… crazy!

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The question is what are the operating limits of the plane and pilot skill is a big factor

Depends on lots of factors. Wind speed, wind gust, wind sheet, wind direction, turbulence, storms, snow, visibility, runway conditions, class of airport (ie which aircraft are operating there).

Certain carriers have their own rules too, for example departures can be prohibited if their is active storm/lighting activity within a certain distance of the airfield. Or for example, storms may be directly in the path of departures, but arrivals are ok, so only departures are delayed.

Wind limits and cross wind components vary between aircraft, approach and tower will allow aircraft to attempt the approach, which may end up missed or a landing. Pilots often ask approach if other aircraft are ‘getting in’ and if so, request to try the approach.

Here in Australia, most airport temporary closures occur due to storm activity - lightning (which also keeps ground staff off the apron), wind sheer, sudden wind change of direction as the storm is approaching (generally wind blows towards the storm as it approaches, and then as the storm hits, the wind swings to the direction the storm is travelling in). Only lasts about 15-20 minutes until the storm front passes, wind speed and direction settles, and operations continue as normal.

There’s not really an exact answer to your question.

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Here in Abu Dhabi Intl., there are two separate runways but both runways have the same headings.

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True, but I remember one time when we got a pretty big storm here. In fact, I was pretty lucky as it was on the day on my Hindi exam, and school got cancelled. I hate Hindi. ;-)

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Depends if crosswind.

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