the Department of Transportation in 2003 cited adverse weather as the leading cause of airline delays. Between May and October of last year, however, delays and late arrivals caused by the airlines themselves, rather than by nature’s worst, took the top spot, affecting nearly 15 percent of the 3.7 million flights during that period, according to DOT Bureau of Transportation statistics. The number of flights struck by weather-
related delays–including NAS delays caused by weather–totaled just 6 percent.
There are a number of reasons for the change in statistics, including unrealistic scheduling practices by the airlines, but recent advancements in weather technology have no doubt contributed as well. In addition to improvements in computing capabilities and weather model data, scientists are now relying on a greater number of observations, on the ground and in the air, and receiving better data from radar and satellites. Combined with new technology that provides access to weather information where pilots need it most–in the cockpit–the advancements are slowly improving the safety and efficiency of air travel.