Storm Ciara fast-tracks plane flying from JFK to Heathrow in under 5 hours, breaks record

Chaffin Mitchell

There aren't many things that can dampen a traveler's mood faster than hearing the words "flight delay," and over this past weekend, there were plenty of impacted flights across Europe as Storm Ciara blasted areas from the United Kingdom to Germany.

Ciara made travel conditions tricky, if not dangerous, across northwest Europe, with hurricane-force winds and flooding rain, but the storm is also being credited with helping one departing flight arrive at its destination well ahead of schedule.

Typically storms delay flights, and Storm Ciara was no different, but a passenger plane traveling from New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport to London made the trip in 4 hours and 56 minutes by riding a jet stream that was accelerated by the storm.

The plane, a Boeing 747, was scheduled to arrive at 6:25 a.m. local time Sunday, but it landed at the London Heathrow Airport almost two hours earlier than scheduled at 4:43 a.m.

A British Airways plane approaches landing at Heathrow Airport. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

This British Airways flight is now the fastest subsonic New York to London crossing, beating the previous record set by a Norwegian Airlines jet at 5 hours and 13 minutes, according to Flightradar24, an online flight-tracking service.

The average flight time of this path from New York to London, according to Flightradar24, is 6 hours and 13 minutes.

"A strong jet stream over the northeast Atlantic Ocean helped to increase tailwinds at flight level, which helped to push the plane along on its flight," AccuWeather Meteorologist Maura Kelly said.

The jet stream helped the plane reach speeds of 825 mph (1,327 km/h), the BBC reports.

"This strong jet stream played a part in strengthening Storm Ciara as it tracked across the Atlantic Ocean," Kelly said.


"On Sunday, Ciara swept across the United Kingdom, battering northwestern Europe with strong winds and areas of heavy rain," Kelly said.

Widespread wind gusts of 50-60 mph (80-96 km/h) were reported on Sunday with some coastal areas and communities in higher elevations recorded wind gusts of 80-100 mph (129-160 km/h).

A man records the conditions as Storm Ciara hits Newhaven, on the south coast of England, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

The strong winds might've helped the British Airways flight break a record, but it hindered other flights and forms of transportation.

More than 470 flights were canceled at Heathrow due to Ciara's effects. A flight from Geneva, Switzerland, had to be rerouted to Lyon, France, after numerous failed attempts to land at the London Gatwick Airport, which reported 333 flight cancelations.

Flight operations have been suspended in other airports across the region due to dangerous weather conditions.

Long-distance train service has been suspended in Germany and France where there have been reports of trees falling on train lines.

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