Ground crews at Kelowna International Airport walk past a plane from Sunwing Airlines parked at the
airport on Thursday afternoon. Many flights were delayed or cancelled due to fog.
The fog grounded aircraft and stranded hundreds of passengers as the airport got its turn to endure wacky Canadian weather this month. By mid-afternoon Thursday, the low cloud had forced airlines to scrub eight flights arriving from Calgary, Vancouver and Los Angeles, as well as 10 departures to the same three cities and Las Vegas.
The heavy mist, typical of early and late-season winter, was too thick for pilots to see through.
"Here it is in January and we've had spring-like conditions," said airport spokesperson Jenelle Hynes. "I spoke to a lot of passengers. They say it's Mother Nature. . . . It is definitely frustrating."
Sun-seekers had to wait five hours beyond their scheduled departure for their Sunwing flight to take them to Mexico. Teenagers anticipating a WestJet flight to Las Vegas waited hours for an aircraft that circled above but never landed.
Compounding the problem was foggy weather in Vancouver and Victoria. It's the worst day for cancellations at Kelowna's airport this season, said Hynes.
"We're no different. Toronto last week had freezing weather and ice. Earlier this week was Edmonton and 120-km/h winds."
Visibility was less than a quarter mile Thursday morning. Even with instrument landing systems, arriving aircraft need at least half a mile of visibility and a 251-foot ceiling.
Today's forecast called for fog patches dissipating by noon and the risk of freezing drizzle this morning.