Holiday travelers at San Francisco International Airport can expect more delays through at least Monday as meteorologists predict plenty of clouds and rain.
With the unofficial Thanksgiving travel rush under way Friday, flights at the airport were delayed most of the day for an average of about 30 minutes per flight, said SFO Duty Manager Joseph Walsh. He chalked up most of the delays to the "low ceilings" pilots must combat when it is too cloudy over the airport's two crossing runways.
Although airport officials said the exact timing and length of delays are tough to predict, the forecast calls for more bad weather during the next few days. During inclement weather, the airport can only handle half the number of arriving and departing planes as normal, which causes cascading delays.
"We're expecting a wet, windy and fairly uncomfortable weekend" through Monday, said Diana Henderson, a meteorologist with the local bureau of the National Weather Service. "But by Tuesday, we'll go to partly cloudy and be pretty much clear after that."
Henderson said the skies should clear by Thanksgiving, when areas around the airport should begin to warm up and temperatures might even reach the 60s. This weekend, the forecast calls for temperatures ranging from the low 40s to mid-50s, and early next week the mercury should rise to between the mid-40s and upper 50s.
SFO expects 1.24 million people to come in and out of its gates in the 11-day span through Nov. 29. Monday should be the busiest day, with officials predicting 123,000 travelers.
Even without weather delays, officials said passengers should build extra time into their schedule because they expect security lines to be longer than usual and parking lots to be more packed.
"Get there early and (use) patience," Henderson said. "And check the forecast for where you're going before you leave."
SFO officials say the best way for travelers to get the latest information on delays is to check with their airlines before they leave for the airport.
Mike Rosenberg covers San Mateo, Burlingame, Belmont and transportation. Contact him at 650-348-4324.
Number of people expected to come in and out of SFO's gates in the 11-day span through Nov. 29
Number of travelers expected on Monday, usually the busiest day of the year