Shift of Earth's magnetic North Pole affects Florida airport
Tampa International Airport's new runway designations, a result of a shift of Earth’s magnetic North Pole, take effect Thursday.
January 12th, 2011
07:34 PM ET

Shift of Earth's magnetic North Pole affects Florida airport

A runway at Florida's Tampa International Airport is scheduled to reopen Thursday with new numbers and signage to account for the gradual shift of the Earth's magnetic North Pole.

Runway 18R/36L, which runs north-south, has been closed since January 3 for numeric redesignation of the compass headings at each end of the runway and to change taxiway signage to account for the one-degree shift.

It will reopen tomorrow as 19R/1L, indicating its alignment along compass headings, FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.

Every five years, the FAA reevaluates shifts in the poles - its magnetic variation - and makes changes to runways and flight procedures as needed, Bergen said.

The FAA also publishes new aeronautical charts for pilots every 56 days, and with the next one due on Thursday, it made sense to make the changes at Tampa International Airport effective the same day, she said.

"The Earth's magnetic fields are constantly changing," she said. "It’s a very dynamic system so we make these changes effective every 56 days."

Redesignation of runway compass headings is a common practice that occurs whenever the Earth's magentic fields change, she said. It happened last year at Palm Beach International Airport and is scheduled to happen at the Tampa-Clearwater International Airport later in 2011, she said.

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Filed under: Air travel • Florida • Travel
soundoff (196 Responses)
  1. ficus

    anyone sees the sun rising from the west?

    January 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rhonda

    Changing, shifting magnetic poles are normal! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for posting this! From all the hype one would think that shifting magnetic poles were an indication of the end of the world as we know it. I'm relieved!

    January 13, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. D

    omg. I knew there was something to this global warming thing.

    January 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Harold

    Birds are not seriously affected by the change in magnetic variation. When they end their flight and find out they are a mile off, they just walk on over there.

    January 13, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. STEVE D

    Now that the Pole's have shifted, i've cancelled my Viagara prescription, and everything is pointing well north.

    January 13, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. aaron

    the only thing that has flipped more is president obama!!!!

    January 14, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Big Bill

    What in the world are they thinking in Florida ? For one, Saint louis International Airport has a ( never changed ) 18R36L Runway for +80 years and never saw a deviation that required them to change compass bearings.

    January 15, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ajibola Aries

    I cannot help but almost conclude that since the changes in the earth's magnetic field naturally occurs once every year or five years, the one mentioned in this report is just one of the numerous ones that have been regularly taking place for countless ages. Relating it to a so-called Apocalypse in 2012 is therefore pointless. There is still no proof that the world will end in 2012; it's only speculations. However, natural disasters occasioned by earth changes may occur, but even these may only do some damages to our civilization or at worst rather than end it. Those who predicted the end of the world in 2012 also predicted such things as a Third World War which they said will last for even decades. If the Third World War will last for decades and it has not yet started as at today, then it means that the world and human civilization will survive and exist far beyond 2012.

    January 17, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Gray Fox 114

    why are the compass headings being changed at only one runway,and this in Florida?If the poles have indeed shifted, as they supposedly do every few years, why aren't all airports renumbering their runways? And why did I never see or hear about any military runways, or the surrounding civilian ones, being altered by a shift in the magnetic poles? I'm not the brightest person in the world, but I have a decent nose, and this smells like b.s! If the poles shifted and caused problems in one place, they did it all over.Maybe Florida shifted. Makes more sense than lots of other explanations.

    January 18, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ojala

    Thank goodness for liberals. If we did not have them, Republicans would be leftists.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
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    January 25, 2012 at 4:40 am | Report abuse |
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