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Debunking The Myth: Yes, Planes CAN Fly In Thunderstorms


One of the most dangerous phenomena related to air travel pilots usually encounter is thunderstorms. Thunderstorms develop due to the instability in the atmosphere. That is to say, warm air rises and a combination of all the water droplets in the clouds form a big droplet which finally freezes to form ice crystals. Eventually, these droplets become so heavy to be handled by the updrafts and as a result, precipitation occurs in the form of hail storms. Our main concern is “Can planes fly in thunderstorms”? Well, to understand this, it is imperative for you to know all the basics associated with this interesting topic of discussion.

For instance, suppose you have booked a flight from Canada to India, and there is warning of lightning and thunderstorms from the meteorological department! The important question here is what is the possibility that your flight will be delayed or canceled? Well, you need to gain a deeper insight into the matter to know whether your flight will be safe in thunderstorms or not? So let’s get on with this topic and understand all the important and crucial factors related to it.

Can Planes Fly In Thunderstorms?

Yes, planes can fly in thunderstorms, but several factors are considered when defining the route in such a situation. Every procedure has to be decided by the aviation authorities for ensuring the safety of the passengers and pilots. Hence, the next time you hear about a delay or cancellation of your flight in thunderstorms or extreme weather conditions, don’t get mad over the airport officials. To ensure a safe and secure air travel, circumnavigation is often considered to avoid turbulence in mild to moderate cases. However, in severe conditions, flights get cancelled most of the time. Passengers must know that thunderstorms have a miniscule impact on flight schedules. To put it another way, there is a very rare chance for them to cause any kind of delays or cancelations.

Factors To Consider Before Flying A Plane In Thunderstorm

Experts analyze many factors before deciding whether or not to cancel a flight during inclement weather conditions. Similarly, you should to the same whenever you book flights from Canada to India and should check the weather forecast well in advance. Have a look at some of the deciding factors for air travel in thunderstorms:

Runway conditions:

It is the most common factor that causes delay or flight cancellations. If weather conditions are not stable in departure location or arrival location, then it is a no-go sign for a flight. In case a storm is in its full swing, passengers might have to wait for safer traveling conditions to prevail.

Intensity of the storm:

In heavy rain with no lightning and mild thunderstorms, there are usually no issues that may prove to be an impediment. However, if hail storms coupled with heavy winds are witnessed, such a situation can worsen and authorities are most likely to delay the take-off.

Wind shear:

Wind shear is the variation in the velocity of wind and is quite common during thunderstorms making it impossible for the airplanes to fly. In fact, it is one of the major reasons to avoid flying in thunderstorms.

Storm Size:

Another deciding factor to fly in thunderstorms is the girth of the storm. According to the guidelines from aviation authorities, planes should try to stray at least 20 miles away from the large storms and 5 miles from smaller ones. For more convenience and safety of the passengers, airlines prefer taking alternative routes. However, this might take longer time to reach the destination, but is always a safer option. We can also say that width of the storms decides “can planes fly in thunderstorms or not.


While it is the most visually spectacular phenomenon, it actually poses no threat for air travel. After all, airplanes are designed in a way to withstand the lightning strikes. From a more scientific perspective, we can say that airplanes act as a Faraday cage, which protects passengers from the shock of the lightning hitting the plane. This obviously can cause minor, little or no damage to the aircraft.


Unpredictable movements in the air within a storm are a big “NO” for airplanes. This can cause a change in pressure and the severity may lead to pushing the airplane. In fact, this is indeed something which can make it a bit more difficult for the pilot to keep the passengers comfortable.


Hail can cause damage to the windows and other outer parts of an airplane. Moreover, it can also create a huge distraction for the pilot while navigating a thunderstorm.

Besides, can planes fly in thunderstorms, different weather conditions are also important to note while traveling in a flight. After all, there are many other factors which have the potential to contribute to the severity of thunderstorms.

Other Weather Conditions To Avoid While Flying

Not only thunderstorms, but many other severe weather conditions prevent pilots from taking off. In most cases, a thunderstorm is not enough to cancel a flight. Rather there are a number of conditions which augment its effect and as a result, flight delays or cancellations are more likely. During a storm, pilots generally find an alternative route but if underlying conditions are there, then no alternative may work well enough.

Therefore, it eventually results in cancellation of a flight. There are thousands of people who come to us and book cheap flights to Canada with us and we always do our best to serve them in an excellent manner. But if someone asks us if there is any alternative one can consider while facing a flight cancellation because of extreme weather conditions, we share a famous adage with them, “better late than never”.

Some of these conditions can be:
  • Ice on the runway
  • Snow
  • Intense rain
  • Fog
  • High wind

Can Airplanes Fly In Snow & Rain?

Answering the respective question is more complicated than it sounds because of the potential range of severity of the rainy conditions. As a matter of fact, snow and rain singularly are not capable of canceling the flights. But additional factors like wind gusts, thunderstorms, mist and fog can predominantly keep the aircraft grounded. Pilots are very responsible and ready to tackle every weather condition and tailor their planning of the departure or landing as per the rules stipulated by the airport authorities.

Can Planes Fly Through A Tornado?

A tornado consists of powerful winds and debris along with it. Therefore, flying through it would be a dangerous thing for a pilot to do. As an illustration, the force exerted by the tornado can knock down an airplane very easily. Due to this reason, it is advisable not to fly near or through any tornadoes. Similarly, the turbulence caused by tornadoes can be fatal; hence, pilots steer clear of tornadoes by 20-30 nautical miles.

Can Planes Fly In Strong Winds?

Flying in strong winds can cause an aircraft to lose control which can be quite unsettling for the passengers. If wind speed exceeds 30 knots, it is advisable not to take off or land. Flying in turbulence therefore is not at all good for domestic or international flights whatsoever.

In the light of above information, if you have booked direct flights from USA to India and weather is not stable, then chances of getting a flight delayed are high. However, in this situation don’t get mad over the airport staff and try to be a bit more patient with everyone. After all, it is for your own safety. If you are thinking whether you will reach your destination on time or not, caste aside all your worries and just hope for the best.


So, this was all you must know when traveling by air in a thunderstorm. We hope this blog will help you in preparing yourself for the next familiar incident. For more queries, you can contact us any time. Our team will do the best to render all the possible solutions for your concerns related to international air travel. You can also book cheap flights to India with us and get the best discounts on airfares. We are a prominent ticket booking agency, dedicated to providing unbeatable deals and offers without any hidden charges. Our association with top airlines helps all our customers grab the most affordable flight deals. The culture of innovation we promote in the field of aviation makes us one of the leading travel platforms assisting thousands of people travel in a cost-effective manner.