Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in southeastern Texas late Friday night, has both local and national implications for aviation in the U.S. The storm caused temporary airport closures and significant disruption to Houston-area airports’ navigation and lighting systems due to widespread flooding. Nationally, there could be a spike in jet-A fuel prices since production of up to half of jet-A has been interrupted at multiple refineries shut down by the storm, as well as the terminals that service those refineries. The Houston Ship Canal, the major gateway for shipping refined petroleum products, has also been adversely affected.
Virtually all of the Houston area’s airports had issued Notams for navaids and airport and signage lighting out of service last night, as well as some runway, taxiway and ramp closures due to flooding as the downgraded storm continued to dump rainfall that could reach a total of 50 inches by Friday. Lighting on construction, broadcast, and cell towers throughout the region’s airspace had also failed. While Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) have yet to be issued, that appears a certainty today, if for no other reason than an announced visit of President Trump to the area tomorrow.
The FAA also issued a strong warning to drone operators to keep their aircraft on the ground during rescue and recovery operations. “Flying a drone without authorization in or near the disaster area may violate federal, state, or local laws and ordinances, even if a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is not in place,” the FAA noted on its website.
Numerous area airports were reported closed yesterday, some not scheduled to open until Wednesday. Many of those that remained open were operating without staffed ATC towers. At press time, closures included Bush International (KIAH); Hobby (KHOU), whose surrounding roads were flooded with more than four feet of water; and Ellington Field (KEFD), the epicenter of Coast Guard helicopter rescue operations. The airports at Corpus Christi (KCRP), Beaumont (KBPT), Victoria (VCT) and Calhoun County (PKV) were also reported closed as were both airports serving the Port Aransas area (KTFP and KRKP). Damage at the Corpus Christi and Galveston Airports was reported as minimal and the former was scheduled to reopen today. Houston Executive (KTME), Sugar Land (KSGR), and Hooks Memorial (KDWH) were all reported as open.
The Coast Guard had assembled a wing of eight MH-65D Dolphins from air stations Houston,…