TARMAC TAR PIT: A U.S. Airways jet sinks into the pavement at Reagan National Airport on July 6. (Photo: Phillip Dugaw/Imgur)
Thanks to an encroaching cold front, the U.S. East Coast may finally get some relief this week from a historic heat wave — and not a moment too soon. As the photo above illustrates, things have gotten pretty bad in recent days.
The U.S. Airways jet sank into the tarmac Friday at Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C., due to pavement softened by unusually high temperatures, according to the Washington Post. "It was apparently a soft spot caused by the heat," airline spokeswoman Michelle Mohr tells the Post.
Passenger Phillip Dugaw posted the photo on Reddit over the weekend, where it has already been viewed more than 900,000 times as of Monday morning. Dugaw's Reddit post also offers a little more detail about what happened:
"They spent over an hour trying to get it out with the tug-truck before they deplaned us. Still didn't work. Then they off-loaded luggage to try to make it even lighter and blasted the engines to try to get it out. After two hours, they gave up and cancelled the flight."
Once the jet's 35 passengers and their luggage had been removed — and after blasting the engines didn't work — a larger tug truck finally freed the jet from its impromptu tar pit. The plane later took off for Charleston, S.C., after a three-hour delay, but Dugaw tells the Huffington Post he found another flight to Charleston.
Airplane wheels sinking into the tarmac is "a pretty unusual event," Mohr acknowledges, "but we're looking at some pretty unusual temperatures."
The U.S. has been embroiled for weeks in a "horrendous" heat wave, as the National Weather Service describes it, with dozens of deaths blamed on the heat and more than 2,000 high-temperature records broken in the past 11 days alone. The temperature at Reagan National reached 98 degrees Friday, according to the NWS.
A cold front will help cool things off this week, the NWS forecasts, but it's expected to bring a whole new set of problems.
"A cold front slowly sinking south into the Mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley is bringing a return to near-normal temperatures along with much-needed rainfall for many locations that have experienced 100+ degree temperatures over the past few days," the NWS reports. "The bad news is that scattered strong to severe thunderstorms are likely to develop in the vicinity of said front as it moves southward, especially during the afternoon and evening hours on Monday and Tuesday."
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