A rare and unexpected late winter storm hit Chicago city and its international airport (ORD) on Sunday, April 14. For the first time since 1982, more than 5″ of accumulated snow fell on ORD on a single day in April, causing significant disruption to both airport and airline operations.
Climacell provided accurate warning more than 30 hours before the snowstorm occured.
ClimaCell’s weather forecast correctly predicted 5″ of snow accumulation, while the City of Chicago (AccuWeather), the National Weather Service, and WSI erred regarding snow accumulation amount, intensity, and timing.
Most airlines were caught off guard before and even during the event, and missed the chance to prepare together with Airport Authorities and take down the flight schedule in advance.
For one of the major airlines, this lack of preparation resulted in 230 realtime cancellations and 40 diversions, translating into $5-15M costs — only for this single event.