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Flight Patterns 

Aircraft primarily depart heading into the wind. So whether an airplane departs to the north (north flow) or the south (south flow) depends on wind conditions. During clear weather in the Puget Sound region, winds tend to flow out of the north necessitating departures to the north. Cloudy or overcast days mean winds tend to flow out of the south necessitating departures to the south. Given our northwest climate, Sea-Tac Airport operates in south flow about 65% of the year.

North flow

South Flow

North flow sample flight pattern at Sea-Tac AirportSouth flow sample flight path at Sea-Tac Airport

Both maps represent a typical 24-hour period of jet traffic at Sea-Tac Airport.
Click the above images to enlarge


PublicVue Flight Tracking Tool

View local area flight tracking and noise information

PublicVue enables the public to watch the time-delayed movement of aircraft
operating at Sea-Tac Airport as well as at other local airports. If you are a first-time user of this system, click on the help link below to assist with understanding and utilizing the full capabilities of this software. 
Download instructions for PublicVue (PDF).

Effects of Weather on Noise

Many atmospheric phenomena can vary the intensity of aircraft noise from day to day at a given location. Noise propagation, or the transmission of sound waves through the air, can be influenced by wind, temperature, cloud cover and fog. These conditions do not describe all weather phenomena and their effects on noise, but may help explain the day-to-day variations in the propagation of aircraft noise.