Weather and frost heaves cause delayed flight traffic
Travelers trying to get in or out of Nome last weekend had a tough time reaching their destinations as planned. A combination of snowy weather and frost heaves on Nome’s main runway caused delays in getting planes in and out of Nome.
Alaska Airlines spokesman Tim Thompson said that Alaska Airlines canceled a total of seven flights over the weekend. “Three of those flights were passenger aircraft and the other four were freighters. Passenger flights were canceled due to weather, while the freighter cancelations were a mix of weather and mechanical items,” Thompson wrote in an email to the Nugget.
Thompson added, “due to weather, runway conditions had deteriorated for landing our aircraft.” He said that the DOT did a good job of clearing the runway over the weekend, “but was still not in time for our scheduled flights. We canceled two flights based on the current weather/runway conditions at the time.”
“There are some frost heaves and low spots on one of the runways at the Nome Airport that have become worse in the last month,” wrote the Dept. of Transportation’s Northern Region information officer Caitlyn Frye in an email to the Nugget. “When the weather conditions make it difficult to land on the other runways, these frost heaves could affect flights coming into Nome. It is a combination of runway and weather conditions that have contributed to some of the cancelled flights.”
She added that the DOT/PF maintenance staff will meet with Alaska Airlines next week to talk about options going forward. “We are hoping to be able to do some maintenance on the frost heaves this winter when the weather gets colder. Regardless, a construction project is planned for this coming construction season to make some more permanent repairs to the runway. This construction project has been in the works for a few years.”
She acknowledged that this is a frustrating situation for travelers, but that the DOT is working to find a temporary solution until the longer-term fix will be done next summer.
Monday’s passenger flights flew as scheduled and a freighter made it in. However, according to Thompson, there is still additional freight that needs to be moved.