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Southwest Airlines flight into Phoenix bites the dust...almost

As NBC News 12 Phoenix reported that heavy storms were rolling in over the Phoenix Metroplex on Sunday evening. Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines flight #1257 from Houston, Texas to Phoenix, Arizona was indeed flying fortunate skies the same evening. That is until the Captain announced that the flight was approximately 45 minutes from Phoenix, and severe storms were ahead. Then he indicated that the flight pattern would be changed and would divert around the storm. However, everyone was instructed to buckle in and prepare for a bumpy ride.

Views from passenger window of SW Airlines flight landing on August 17, 2014 in Phoenix, AZ with dust storm approaching in background.
Photo by Roselyn Franke, August 17, 2014

Passengers aboard reacted differently - some seemed anxious and nervous, while others did not seem disturbed. Almost everyone checked to make sure their seat beats were tightened and snug to prepare for the worst. Shortly afterward, the bumps commenced. The Boeing 737 bounced up and down, and a few side-swaying movements started.. The side to side movements are the most frightening, while the up and down are more expected as normal turbulence. Miraculously, the turbulence subsided within about 10 minutes.

Next, the jet seemed to glide between beautiful cloud formations; the bright pretty ones to the left and the beautiful but ominous clouds were viewed from the right windows. Passengers seemed calm and relaxed, but ready to be safely on the ground. As the descent into Phoenix began, a few bumps were felt. But, as passengers looked to the left, a dust storm could be seen rolling straight toward the plane. While it seemed to be a good distance away, the passengers’ anxiety again returned. Would the jet be able to land safely before the dust storm engulfed the airport?
Fortunately, Southwest Airlines Flight #1257 landed safely ahead of the dust storm around 7:30 p.m.; only 15 minutes late. No biting the dust this time, but several flights were delayed. Kudos to the pilots for a great job! This storm was not as fierce as last month’s storm that shut down Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, but these storms must always be taken seriously – as visibility for driving, or flying in this instance, can change suddenly.

As passengers grabbed luggage and rushed to the curbs to be picked up, the monsoon lightning flashes were seen all around the airport and to the east valley area. Fortunately, most were able to return home safely before the worst of the storm hit north Phoenix and Scottsdale, while a portion of the storm veered south toward Tucson, Arizona.

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