3 Southwest flights diverted to Mesa airport due to weather

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MESA -- Three Southwest flights were diverted to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Monday morning due to reported microburst activity at Sky Harbor International Airport, said a spokesman for the airline.

Wind shear forced diversion
azfamily.com

Video from NewsChopper 3 showed the three jets on the ground at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said the planes landed there to wait for the weather to clear. The plan was for the jets to refuel before going on to Sky Harbor.

According to airport spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez, other flights circled the airport to wait out the wind issue.

As of 9 a.m., Sky Harbor said it was expecting departure delays of up to 30 minutes due to erractic winds. Things were back to normal by 11 a.m.

According to the National Weather Service, Monday morning's weather event at the airport was not a microburst. The NWS told 3TV and azfamily.com meteorologist April Warnecke that only light rain was reported, along with top wind speeds of 13 miles per hour.

The NWS did say that it saw a small area of wind shear west of the runway that was likely the cause for the flight diversions and delays. That shear can be an issue even in relatively light winds.

The NWS said changes in wind direction from a headwind to a tailwind can be a bigger concern to pilots as they land than actual wind speeds.