Narrative:

Before this event took place the weather was beginning to impact sector 19/89 as well as sector 20/63/78. The military was scheduled to take airspace for a mission beginning at XX00z including restricted areas R5107A; R5107K; R5103B; R5103C FL500 and below. We began requesting to keep this airspace since we knew that weather was impacting us to a great degree and we knew it would be next to impossible to continue to work traffic through this airspace. The controllers on duty were doing a tremendous job talking nonstop; giving weather advisories as well as very specific routings to numerous aircraft just trying the best we could to keep the traffic out of the restricted areas. The weather in sector 63/20 was moderate to extreme in nature affecting the area from 30 miles southeast of elp extending to cnm then south to fst. The controllers continued to request airspace and the supervisors were making the request from tmu and the area manager but we were told; 'they're working on it.' we continued to work with what we had but there is no doubt that safety was being compromised since we could not get any airspace back from white sands missile range. When aircraft X departed elp for XXX he was filed a SID over ink but as soon as he check on he was deviating no less than 20 miles north of his track. He requested to deviate farther north and west and I instructed him that he could not deviate any farther left than a 050 heading; I believe. He said that this was not sufficient so I cleared him via specific fixes to keep him clear of the restricted areas at minimum separation. He read these fixes back which I believe were summy pio cme but he said that this was not sufficient to keep him clear of extreme weather. I yelled across the room to the supervisor that we needed the restricted areas back immediately but they weren't able to do anything at the time. R5103B and R5103C were still active FL300 and below. I told the aircraft X pilot that unless he declared an emergency that I could not clear him to deviate any farther left. He paused then said he was declaring an emergency. I told the supervisor then called white sands (wsmr) and instructed them of the aircraft X emergency flight entering R5103B/C airspace. They said they would contact fort bliss and let them know. I then cleared aircraft X to deviate farther left and told him to inform me when he could turn farther east. He deviated on a heading of about 015 until he got to srr then was able to turn to the east. About 20 minutes after this event we got R5103B/C back to us FL160 and above. We have a minimum of airspace to work traffic through when the military uses this airspace FL500 and below on a clear day. There is about 18 miles from the southern boundary of the previously mentioned restricted areas and the mexican border or mty center. Normally we force air carriers into mexican airspace and fortunately the mty center controllers accept numerous point-outs on a daily basis. But on this day this wasn't an option since mty center was greatly affected by weather as well. The military and wsmr continues to schedule missions at 3:00PM until 4:30PM when our weather is at its peak of severity and pinch the airspace that we have to work traffic to a bare minimum.

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Original NASA ASRS Text

Title: ZAB Controller describes a shift where weather is causing aircraft to deviate and that the controllers are trying to recall restricted airspace to allow flights better deviations.

Narrative: Before this event took place the weather was beginning to impact sector 19/89 as well as sector 20/63/78. The military was scheduled to take airspace for a mission beginning at XX00z including Restricted Areas R5107A; R5107K; R5103B; R5103C FL500 and below. We began requesting to keep this airspace since we knew that weather was impacting us to a great degree and we knew it would be next to impossible to continue to work traffic through this airspace. The controllers on duty were doing a tremendous job talking nonstop; giving weather advisories as well as very specific routings to numerous aircraft just trying the best we could to keep the traffic out of the restricted areas. The weather in Sector 63/20 was moderate to extreme in nature affecting the area from 30 miles SE of ELP extending to CNM then south to FST. The controllers continued to request airspace and the supervisors were making the request from TMU and the Area Manager but we were told; 'They're working on it.' We continued to work with what we had but there is no doubt that safety was being compromised since we could not get any airspace back from White Sands Missile Range. When Aircraft X departed ELP for XXX he was filed a SID over INK but as soon as he check on he was deviating no less than 20 miles north of his track. He requested to deviate farther north and west and I instructed him that he could not deviate any farther left than a 050 heading; I believe. He said that this was not sufficient so I cleared him via specific fixes to keep him clear of the restricted areas at minimum separation. He read these fixes back which I believe were SUMMY PIO CME but he said that this was not sufficient to keep him clear of extreme weather. I yelled across the room to the supervisor that we needed the restricted areas back immediately but they weren't able to do anything at the time. R5103B and R5103C were still active FL300 and below. I told the Aircraft X pilot that unless he declared an emergency that I could not clear him to deviate any farther left. He paused then said he was declaring an emergency. I told the Supervisor then called White Sands (WSMR) and instructed them of the Aircraft X emergency flight entering R5103B/C airspace. They said they would contact Fort Bliss and let them know. I then cleared Aircraft X to deviate farther left and told him to inform me when he could turn farther east. He deviated on a heading of about 015 until he got to SRR then was able to turn to the east. About 20 minutes after this event we got R5103B/C back to us FL160 and above. We have a minimum of airspace to work traffic through when the military uses this airspace FL500 and below on a clear day. There is about 18 miles from the southern boundary of the previously mentioned restricted areas and the Mexican border or MTY center. Normally we force air carriers into Mexican airspace and fortunately the MTY center controllers accept numerous point-outs on a daily basis. But on this day this wasn't an option since MTY center was greatly affected by weather as well. The military and WSMR continues to schedule missions at 3:00PM until 4:30PM when our weather is at its peak of severity and pinch the airspace that we have to work traffic to a bare minimum.

Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.