Missoula fog forces Allegiant, Alaska airlines flights to divert to Boise

Persistent freezing fog in the Missoula Valley caused several airlines to divert flights on Tuesday, prompting headaches and worries for families looking to unite for Thanksgiving.

An Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle turned back Monday night after heavy fog was reported over Johnson Bell Field at Missoula International Airport. The flight took off again on Tuesday morning but was diverted to Boise, Idaho.

“The fog has definitely got us shut down at the moment,” said airport director Cris Jensen. “We’ve had both an Allegiant flight and Alaska flight divert.”

Temperatures at the airport remained below the freezing mark at noon on Tuesday and the fog persisted. But Jensen said the weather was expected to break long enough later in the day to bring the flights in.

“The temperatures are warming up, so we can’t fog seed,” Jensen said. “In the past, it’s been cold enough where we’ve been able to fog seed. We’re waiting for Mother Nature to help us out.”

AAA projects 50.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 3.3 percent increase over last year. The 2017 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005 with 1.6 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies and rails.

“When the weather clears, they’ll come back in,” Jensen said of the flights. “It’s been a while since we’ve had to divert flights.”