Pat Shingleton: "Deicing and THE Blizzard"
Years ago, plane de-icing was randomly performed and now is a mandatory application during episodes of freezing weather. On January 13, 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the icy Potomac River, 30 seconds after takeoff from National Airport in Arlington, Virginia. The casualty count noted 78 deaths, including four who were in cars on the 14th Street Bridge. The National Transportation Safety Board determined the cause of the crash was the failure of pilots to abort the takeoff and a lapse in time to activate anti-icing equipment. Ice on wings is dangerous because of additional weight and the loss of lift for the aircraft, causing drag on the aircraft’s body. A wing can lose 30% of lift with a small accumulation of ice. Finally, a blizzard is a storm with sustained winds of 35 m.p.h. for three hours with blowing snow that reduces visibilities to a quarter mile. January 12th marks another anniversary that marks one of the worst winter storms to hit United States. In 1888, from the Great Plains to Texas, temperatures dropped, winds howled and snow fell as 235 perished in snowdrifts. Some of the casualties were not discovered until the spring thaw. Later that same year on March 12, the Great White Hurricane slammed the East Coast that lasted three days. Fifty inches of snow fell in Massachusetts with 50 foot snow drifts from Maryland to Canada. The storm sank 200 ships and killed 400, including 100 seamen. It is considered the worst blizzard in United States history.