On the ground, forecasters looking at weather maps warned that a monster nor’easter would bring flooding and wind damage.
But the view was even worse from 4,000 feet, as one passenger jet pilot soon learned flying through the storm Friday morning.
After making it through a tough patch of turbulence as the plane headed toward Washington Dulles International Airport, the pilot sent a report to the Aviation Weather Center.
Pilot report from the Washington DC area this morning:
"IAD UUA /OV KIAD/TM 1238/FL040/TP CRJ2/TB MOD-SEV/RM VERY BUMPY ON DESCENT. PRETTY MUCH EVERY ONE ON THE PLANE THREW UP. PILOTS WERE ON THE VERGE OF THROWING UP. AWC-WEB"
— NWS AWC (@NWSAWC) March 2, 2018
The center, which is run by the National Weather Service, swiftly relayed the message to its Twitter followers. It was a report from a pilot that no passenger wants to hear. “Pretty much everyone on the plane threw up,” the tweet said.
The pilot of the flight, which took off in Charlottesville, Virginia, was able to send the message as soon as it got close enough to the ground, said Clinton Wallace, the center’s deputy director.
Later Friday, United Airlines, which operated the flight, offered a slightly less drastic account of what had occurred.
“Air Wisconsin Flight 3833 operating as United Express from Charlottesville, Va. to Washington Dulles International encountered turbulence because of high winds,” United said in a statement. “A few customers onboard the regional jet became ill as the aircraft was preparing to land. The aircraft landed safely and taxied to its gate. No customers required medical attention because of the turbulence.”
According to Air Wisconsin’s website, the aircraft was a Bombardier CRJ200 with a passenger capacity of 50 and a crew of three. It was not clear how many passengers were on the flight.
Friday’s nor’easter brought heavy rains, strong winds and intermittent snow. It also caused many areas in the northeastern United States to flood. During the storm, there was a temporary ground stop at Dulles Airport, according to a tweet from the airport Friday morning.
Wallace told CNN this isn’t the first time he’s received reports of severe turbulence during a storm — and it likely won’t be the last.
“(It’s) a warning to the (other) aircrafts, if possible, to try and avoid that area due to these conditions,” Wallace said.
High winds are expected to continue for much of the day today in the DC area. Many airlines have issued weather waivers for travel in the Northeast, including for IAD. Please check the status of your flight before coming to the airport & stay safe!
— Dulles Airport (IAD) (@Dulles_Airport) March 2, 2018
More than 5,000 flights have been canceled as a nor-easter quickly gained strength, pounding much of the East Coast Friday, according to flightaware.com.
A video of a plane taking off from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport shows how strong the wind was:
Check out the wind blowing this plane as it takes off at DCA pic.twitter.com/yiIFS06T2e
— Matt Ackland (@mattackland_dc) March 2, 2018
Tribune Media Wire contributed to this report.