How can San Francisco, a city that rarely sees snowstorms or thunderstorms be #2 on this list? Fog and poor planning.
Extreme weather isn’t the cause of SFO’s weather delays. Rather, it’s the persistent marine layer that shrouds San Francisco in low hanging fog and has made famous the saying, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
The other contributing factor to SFO’s delays is the layout of its runways. The airport has two parallel runways separated by only 750 feet. However, the FAA requires a 4,300 foot separation between runways for aircraft to land side-by-side in poor weather conditions. According to SFO, this reduces operations by half during poor weather. Once the fog begins, arrivals must be staggered and thus the accumulation of delays begins. Arrival delays mean departure delays and so it goes…
While SFO at #2 might shock readers, after helping numerous travelers waylaid by fog at SFO reach their destinations, it does not come as a surprise to us. While private flights can also be hindered by the fog at SFO, they have greater flexibility in flying around it as well as expediting more quickly while commercial flights get backed up.