Lufthansa jet narrowly avoids crashing in German windstorm

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 18:39 (GMT)

Share this Blog
2
+

A Lufthansa Airbus A320 with 137 people on board nearly crashed at the Hamburg, Germany airport on Saturday, March 1, as the pilot struggled to land the airplane during high winds kicked up by winter storm "Emma". If you don't have a fear of flying, take at look at the remarkable video an amateur photographer captured of the landing. It's been uploaded to LiveLeak.com and YouTube. As seen in the still images captured from the video (Figure 1), the pilot attempted to land the aircraft with a strong crosswind blowing from right to left. The crosswind is so strong that the drift angle of the aircraft (the difference between where the nose is pointed and the actual track of the airplane along the runway) is about 20 degrees. As the pilot touches the wheels down, he kicks the rudder to straighten the airplane out, and at that moment, a strong gust of wind lifts up the right wing, pushing the left wingtip of the aircraft into the runway. The pilot is skillful and lucky enough to avoid having the airplane cartwheel down the runway and explode, and aborts the landing attempt. You can see the blast of the engines kick up a cloud of dust on the left side of the runway as he goes to full throttle for a "go around" (thanks to Jeff Weber of UNIDATA for making the correct analysis of this dust cloud). The plane landed safely on its second attempt. Do you think the passengers were praying during that second landing? I do! Only minor damage was done to the left wingtip, and the plane was back in service by the next day.


Figure 1. Still photo of the Lufthansa jet (left) as it approached the runway. Note sharp angle between the direction the airplane's nose is pointed, and the track it is taking along the length of the runway. Strong winds of 40 mph gusting to 63 mph were observed at the airport that afternoon. Right photo: the left wingtip of the jet scrapes the runway as a big gust of wind hits. Image credit: LiveLeak.com.

The weather that led to the near disaster
The initial press reports indicated that a wind gust of 155 mph hit the aircraft as it tried to land. That sounded rather dubious to me, so I took a closer look at the weather conditions that day. The only way a wind gust of that magnitude could have been generated would be from a powerful microburst flowing out from the base of a severe thunderstorm. The world record strongest thunderstorm microburst occurred on August 1, 1983, when winds of 149.5 mph were clocked at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington D.C., just five minutes after President Reagan landed there aboard Air Force 1. So, a 155 mph wind gust is possible, but it would be a new world record.


Figure 2. Visible satellite image from 10:20 GMT Saturday March 1 2008. Winter storm "Emma", a 960 mb low pressure centered north of Hamburg over Norway, has pushed a cold front through Germany. A strong northwest to west-northwest flow of air coming off the North Sea (red arrows) brought sustained winds of 36 mph, gusting to 56 mph, to Hamburg, Germany. Image credit: University of Bern, Switzerland.

Were there severe thunderstorms near Hamburg on March 1 that could have generated such a wind gust? A powerful low pressure system (Emma) with a central pressure of 960 mb passed to the north of Hamburg, Germany that morning, dragging a strong cold front through in the late morning (Figure 2). After cold frontal passage, the wunderground history page for Hamburg at 12:50 GMT, five minutes before the time of the incident, shows sustained winds of 35 mph, gusting to 56 mph. A temporary wind reading of 40 mph, gusting to 63 mph, also occurred. The temperature was about 45°F, with occasional rain. This is classic post-cold front weather, and is not the sort of environment where severe thunderstorms with strong microbursts occur. Later press reports corrected the 155 mph wind gust, reducing it to 56 mph. Apparently, the aircraft's landing speed was 155 mph. In any case, the plane was operating very near to the maximum crosswinds an Airbus A320 is permitted to land in--38 mph, gusting to 44 mph. There are questions whether air traffic control should have used that runway for landings, and whether or not the pilot should have attempted a landing in those conditions. There is an interesting discussion at the LiveATC.net discussion forum where some pilots weight in on the near-disaster.

Winter storm Emma did considerable damage across Germany. Six people died in weather-related automobile accidents, power was cut to 150,000 homes, and high winds ripped the roof off of a school in Hesse. In neighboring countries, 260 buildings lost their roofs in Poland, flooding collapsed a bridge in Romania, and in the Czech Republic, 92,000 people (about 10 percent of the population) lost power.

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 1253 - 1203

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26Blog Index

1253. AWeatherLover
12. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 00:10 (GMT)
so I'm just a little bit curious... Are we saying that la niña is less hyperactive in terms of the CONUS getting hit, or also that it is less active in general?
Member Since: 2.11.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 431
1252. weathermanwannabe
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 21:52 (GMT)
Don't know why my earlier post didn't go up, but, as to the SST issue (another variable very hard to predict out several months in advance) the CONUS has been lucky (Post-Katrina) that some of our larger, and deadly, storms like Dean did not get into the Gulf where the temps have been like the proverbial bathwater the last two seasons.......However, that magic "80F" threshold seems to hold water (no pun intended) every year and anything above that temp is always dangerous if a storm traverses over such warm water.......I'm out for the day but enjoyed the conversations today and everyone have a Great Day....
Member Since: 8.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8311
1251. sullivanweather
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 21:49 (GMT)
Hey Adrian. Forgot to tell you, but I posted my hurricane forecast yesterday. It's up in my blog right now in case you're interested.
Member Since: 8.03.2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
1250. hurricane23
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 21:46 (GMT)
First of grays december forcast is really what you call garbage as its impossible to even get an idea on what the season might look like sooo far away.My best advice is wait till late april or early may to see how the atlantic is behaveing in terms of what patterns and features might be in place.My worry is that the public has fallen asleep when it comes to hurricane preps cause of the 2 mild seasons we have seen for the U.S.unfortunately i think the only thing that will get folks attention once again is a major hurricane strike some were on the U.S. iam truly hopeing for another quite one this season but if you asked me the odds favor atleast one tropical cyclone making landfall this year in the united states now were that will be no one knows thats why hurricane preparation is always very important and should be completed come june1 if you live near a hurricane prone area.

Hurricane prepardness week starts may25!

Remember even a slow seasons have the possibity of haveing huge impacts 1992 is a prime example.Only takes one over your community to do the damage.

www.AdriansWeather.com
Member Since: 14.05.2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
1249. sullivanweather
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 21:46 (GMT)
ONI values for the years posted...

1950
-1.7
-1.5
-1.4
-1.4
-1.3
-1.2
-0.9
-0.8
-0.8
-0.8
-0.9
-1.0


1955
-1.0
-0.9
-0.9
-1.0
-1.1
-1.0
-1.0
-1.0
-1.4
-1.8
-2.0
-1.7
1998
2.3
2.0
1.4
1.1
0.4
-0.1
-0.7
-1.0
-1.1
-1.2
-1.4
-1.5

1999
-1.5
-1.2
-0.9
-0.8
-0.8
-0.8
-0.9
-1.0
-1.0
-1.2
-1.4
-1.7

1964
0.9
0.4
0.0
-0.5
-0.7
-0.7
-0.7
-0.8
-1.0
-1.1
-1.1
-1.0

Member Since: 8.03.2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
1248. weathermanwannabe
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 21:43 (GMT)
Well, I'm off for the day (from the Blog) and enjoyed the conversation today.......As to those SST's (Stormdude), we'll have to see what happens down the pike.......That magic "80F" for tropical formation has been pretty consistent over the years and (post Katrina)we have been spared another potential tragedy for the Gulf region given the very hot SST's there during the peak of the season the last two seasons....Let us not forget the loss of life outside the CONUS the last two seasons when some of the strongest storms [like Dean] were steered into the Yucatan and never entered the bathwater in the Gulf.......Have a great day all...........
Member Since: 8.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8311
1247. Levi32
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 21:41 (GMT)
I'm not sure what all this about La Nina is about either....but I think they're all jumping on the colder SSTs that seem to be correlating with the current strong La Nina episode. Also last year La Nina certainly didn't seem to help activity.....but that's one year....look at the big picture and La Nina seasons are still bad on average. Everything about La Nina supports an active season, how it changes the upper air patterns, SSTs, the MJO, everything. I can see a few reasons why a neutral ENSO with a cold bias could be possibly worse than a full-blown La Nina, but on the whole La Nina always equates to a large threat to the eastern seaboard especially.
Member Since: 24.11.2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26465
1246. AWeatherLover
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 21:36 (GMT)
sullivanweather: that is what I thought. People have been saying that on this blog, that stronger la niña means a less hyperactive season. However that is not what I learned in any meteorology class I have taken. Of course I know that I don't know much about cyclogenesis, and am open to any data someone can show me regarding this. I wonder what the strength of those la niña years were that you posted? Any info on this would be greatly appreciated.
Member Since: 2.11.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 431
1245. stormdude77
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 21:32 (GMT)
Hello all

I just started a blog, about my expectations of this year's SSTs forecast, see here.
1244. sullivanweather
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 21:27 (GMT)
Also, look at La Nina years during positive AMO. The East Coast, especially North Carolina, gets slammed.
Member Since: 8.03.2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
1243. sullivanweather
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 21:18 (GMT)
1950 La Nina year - ACE 243!!
1955 La Nina year - ACE 199!!
1998 La Nina year - ACE 182!!
1999 La Nina year - ACE 177!!
1964 La Nina year - ACE 170!!


These are all hyperactive seasons...

I dunno where this theory started that La Nina doesn't bring hyperactive seasons. Some of the worst seasons have occured during La Nina years
Member Since: 8.03.2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
1242. weathermanwannabe
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 21:12 (GMT)
So many factors have to fall in place to foster a very active season, for the CONUS or the Carribbean,(Bermuda High Position/ SAL/SST's/Shear Values) and the hard part for long-term forcasting is trying to "assume", based on "current" trends, what conditions may look like during the peak of the season...Almost impossible to predict with any certainty, and I certainly agree with the comment below as to 1992 (Andrew) which happened to be the "first" late in the season which caught so many off guard, what conditions will look like, or which of the factors (like excessive shear or dust) may suddenly choke formation in the middle of an active season as we have seen in some recent years (in spite of alarming predictions earlier in the season)........Agree that prepardness and vigilence, every season regardless of the predictions, is the most important "reason for the season" so to speak..........
Member Since: 8.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8311
1241. Patrap
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 21:08 (GMT)
Member Since: 3.07.2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125753
1240. KoritheMan
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 21:03 (GMT)
I agree about waiting til closer to hurricane season. I just get the feeling that this could be a more active season than most are expecting. Although la niña is on the downswing they are calling for it to last through at least spring and some even until fall 2008. That doesn't sound good for the peak months of hurricane season. I guess I just think people should be prepared.

A strong La Niña, believe it or not, doesn't appear to be too favorable for a hyperactive Atlantic hurricane season, since a few of the bloggers on here (I myself have noticed this as well) have said that it cools the Atlantic (hence the cool MDR this year; reminds me of 1996, which had similar SST anomalies in the MDR). With lower SSTs, there is less energy to fuel tropical cyclones. But if La Niña weakens a little bit (it appears to be doing that right now, but it could just be related to MJO/kelvin wave activity, and it could quickly return to its previous strength; time will tell), then I would worry a bit, since not only will the Atlantic have a chance to warm up even slightly, the steering currents could change a bit (stronger La Niña's tend to cause storms to form further south and track further south and west, like last year and in 1988, which had a similar La Niña), and put the U.S. in danger. I would really worry when we get a neutral year with a cold bias (trending toward La Niña), since that's what typically brings the most dangerous seasons for the U.S.

I also think Klotzbach and Grey get too much publicity for their December forecasts. It is often highly flawed. I think it is better to over estimate than under, knowing how much publicity these forecasts get. I think what will turn out to be under estimated numbers are just calming the public into complacency. But thats just my opinion.

Any forecast that far out for hurricane season can automatically be discarded. I don't even know why they try and make a forecast in December for something that happens in June. And I agree about the public becoming complacent.
Member Since: 7.03.2007 Posts: 521 Comments: 19146
1239. atmoaggie
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 21:02 (GMT)
1228. lindenii 8:22 PM GMT on March 11, 2008
How can you tell when 'blog bullys' are losing a discussion?

.....When they question you about your 'credentials' !!


Which is about all someone here has successfully done. I am very reluctant to use the ignore feature as I usually want to hear anything and eveything anyone has to contribute to a subject, but now I have 2 names on my ignore list. He didn't contribute only detract from intelligent discussion.

Does anyone have a good link of teleconnections between the AO and the Atlantic TC season?
Member Since: 16.08.2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
1238. NEwxguy
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 20:58 (GMT)
We can have hurricane preparedness week,publicize the importance of planning ahead,but the nature of humans is to wait until the storm is approaching.
Member Since: 6.09.2007 Posts: 863 Comments: 15124
1237. Patrap
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 20:45 (GMT)
2008 National Hurricane Conference

March 31-April 4 |The Rosen Centre Hotel |Orlando, FL

The nation's forum for education and professional training in hurricane preparedness!
Link

Purpose of the Conference

The primary goal of the National Hurricane Conference is to improve hurricane preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation in order to save lives and property in the United States and the tropical islands of the Caribbean and Pacific. In addition, the conference serves as a national forum for federal, state and local officials to exchange ideas and recommend new policies to improve Emergency Management.

To accomplish these goals, the annual conference emphasizes:



* Lessons Learned from Hurricane Strikes.

* State of the art programs worthy of emulation.

* New ideas being tested or considered.

* Information about new or ongoing assistance programs.

* The ABC's of hurricane preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation -- in recognition of the fact that there is a continual turnover of emergency management leadership and staff.
Member Since: 3.07.2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125753
1236. Patrap
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 20:42 (GMT)


Always eyeing the next storm

March 10, 2008, 11:08PM

New director emphasizes need to prepare towns for hurricanes

By ERIC BERGER
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

Bill Read

• Age : 58

• Family: Wife, Donna; son, Jonathan

• Formerly: Meteorologist-in-charge of the Houston/Galveston office of National Weather Service

• Now: Director of the National Hurricane Center

Longtime Houston meteorologist Bill Read's move to Miami to become the new director of the National Hurricane Center hasn't changed his views on hurricane safety one bit. But becoming the nation's most visible forecaster has given him a bigger stage.

From that platform, Read plans to continue delivering a simple message: Local and state planners — not just in Texas, but in all areas vulnerable to hurricanes — need to do more to prepare their communities for storms.

Texas has taken some steps since Hurricane Rita to facilitate evacuations, Read said, but officials haven't done enough to encourage smart development along the coast. That didn't happen in Houston even after Rita, Read said.

"I defy you to find one community that changed their land-use and building codes based upon hurricanes Katrina or Rita," he said. "I'm not a builder, maybe our codes are satisfactory. But that's not what people in that business are telling me. So, we're setting the table for the next big one."

After 16 years of leading the Houston area's National Weather Service forecasting office and seeing his share of floods and strong winds, Read is passionate about protecting coastal communities and speaks his mind. But don't mistake him for his outspoken predecessor, Bill Proenza, who sharply and publicly criticized his bosses and divided his employees.

It was after Proenza's expulsion as director last summer that officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called Read to Miami to be the hurricane center's temporary deputy director.

Being far from his League City home, Read worked extra hours, coming into the office whenever an active storm threatened, to learn more about the craft of the hurricane center's senior forecasters.

He began to win their confidence and, slowly, their trust, no easy task in a workplace where supporters and opponents of Proenza were deeply riven. The extra work helped Read convince his superiors that he was the right choice for the top job, which NOAA announced in January.

"The mood's better now, but there's still a lot of things we need to do," Read said of the Miami office.

A private company with expertise in conflict resolution and organization building has been brought in.

"It takes time," Read said. "It's like any traumatic event in your life."

An early interest

Regardless of the circumstances, Read is thrilled to be in Miami.

By some estimates, 80 percent of all National Weather Service forecasters know before junior high that they want a career in weather. Read said he knew by the fourth grade, when his parents told him to close the front door as he stood in its frame, transfixed by winter storms in Delaware.

Of the 13 U.S. schools that offered undergraduate degrees in meteorology, Texas A&M University was the only one to accept Read unconditionally. He described himself as an average high school student. As he studied weather in college, Read said, he did better academically.

After earning his bachelor's degree, Read enlisted in the Navy and obtained a slot in its weather reconnaissance program. He soon learned that volunteers who flew into winter storms and hurricanes were paid an extra $100 a month.

Read, who at that point in his life had taken a total of five airline flights, found himself guiding P3 airplanes into hurricanes. After the pilots lost radar, Read's job was to keep the plane pointed toward the storm's center, based upon the wind pattern on the ocean.

"Can you imagine seasoned aircrews flying into hurricanes and winter storms, trusting their safety to a fresh graduate who had been on five flights?" he asked. "I didn't think about that until much later, but I probably brought religion to a bunch of people who thanked God that they got back alive."

After a four-year stint in the Navy, Read returned to Texas A&M for graduate school and by 1978 had landed a forecast intern position at the National Weather Service office in San Antonio. He became a staff forecaster and served in Fort Worth and at the National Weather Service headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., before being appointed head of the Houston/Galveston office in 1992.

Late last month, sitting in his League City office filled with little more than packed boxes, Read recalled the turbulent weather he experienced in Houston, including the outbreak of 17 tornadoes just after he moved to the area and the Hurricane Rita evacuation. He's learned to stay calm under fire.

"Anyone who has seen me working on a computer when it freezes up might question whether I'm calm under duress," Read said. "But I can stay calm on the big issues. It's the little ones that drive me insane, like shanking a wedge on the last hole when I've got a chance to shoot a good round."

Earning respect
The quality of remaining calm has helped Read win over local emergency planners.

"The thing about Bill, he's not going to get you worked up unless you need to be," said John Simsen, Galveston County's emergency management coordinator. "He's helped us not overreact. He's helped us draw that fine line between creating hysteria and not warning people sufficiently."

That's important praise for Read, whose main job now, in part, is to work with emergency management coordinators in coastal communities.

Read's experience also should help him succeed, said Lew Fincher, vice president of Hurricane Consulting Inc., a local firm that works with the public and private sectors to prepare for hurricanes.

"He brings to the table his experience in a local forecast office," Fincher said. "Few of the hurricane specialists in Miami have been there before, and they really don't understand what these guys are going through when they're preparing a local forecast."

In another boost for Read, the proposed 2009 federal budget contains more money for hurricane research and new weather satellites. Read said the money is important if scientists are to better understand how storms rapidly intensify. Last season, he and other forecasters were amazed as a cloudy swirl of low pressure intensified into Hurricane Humberto within 30 hours. The system struck the upper Texas coast as a strong Category 1 hurricane.

"It was just another reminder that we don't know how to forecast rapid intensification," he said. "That's going to be a priority of mine.
Member Since: 3.07.2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125753
1234. AWeatherLover
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 20:35 (GMT)
I agree about waiting til closer to hurricane season. I just get the feeling that this could be a more active season than most are expecting. Although la niña is on the downswing they are calling for it to last through at least spring and some even until fall 2008. That doesn't sound good for the peak months of hurricane season. I guess I just think people should be prepared. I also think Klotzbach and Grey get too much publicity for their December forecasts. It is often highly flawed. I think it is better to over estimate than under, knowing how much publicity these forecasts get. I think what will turn out to be under estimated numbers are just calming the public into complacency. But thats just my opinion.
Member Since: 2.11.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 431
1233. Patrap
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 20:32 (GMT)
Thanx, I use "Hurricane" in Google "News" search every few days.

Member Since: 3.07.2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125753
1231. biff4ugo
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 20:30 (GMT)
Thanks PATRAP that is a thrilling post.
Love your images too.
Member Since: 28.12.2006 Posts: 113 Comments: 1501
1230. Patrap
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 20:24 (GMT)

NOAA Cmdr. Barry Choy pilots a 1975-vintage
Lockheed WP-3D Orion Lockheed WP-3D Orion during a 2,100-mile data-collecting mission over the Pacific Ocean on Friday.



Riding aboard the Hurricane Hunter


By Jack Broom

Seattle Times staff reporter


Length:116 feet, 10 inches

Wingspan: 99 feet, 8 inches

Engines: Four Allison T56-14 turboprops

Maximum takeoff weight: 135,000 pounds

Useful load: 62,000 pounds

Maximum range: 4,370 miles

Crew size: Typically 7 to 11, depending on mission

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

PORTLAND — Struggling to try on a bulky, orange survival suit which, I'm told, could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency, I'm focusing on the fact that, statistically speaking, this seven-hour flight will be safer than my morning commute down Interstate 5.

But part of my brain insists on raising a few issues:

• The pavement on I-5 never disappears from underneath my tires, dropping 100 feet in a matter of seconds.

• The seats in my car don't have "ditching procedure" signs posted alongside, saying what to do if it ends up belly-down on the surface of the ocean.

• And perhaps most important: No one has ever called my 1999 Toyota a "Hurricane Hunter."

Hurricane Hunter is what they call the 1975-vintage Lockheed WP-3D Orion we've just boarded, and the moniker is no exaggeration: Painted on its fuselage are more than 80 red symbols with names and dates of the hurricanes into which it has flown, from Bonny in 1976 to Felix in 2007.

OK; I respect its credentials. But should we really ride into a storm in an plane built the year after Richard Nixon left office? Shouldn't an airplane that uses propellers be headed somewhere a little safer — say, the Museum of Flight?

"It's an older aircraft, but it does exactly what we need it to do," says Paul Flaherty, a project manager for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which operates two of these "P-3's" and is in the process of acquiring another from the Navy.

It's exceptionally sturdy, says Flaherty. It's dependable. It accommodates a wide range of scientific gear. And in rough weather the turboprop engines make it easier to maneuver.

Despite sending these planes into some of the nastiest weather nature dishes out, like the 216-mph winds of Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, NOAA has never lost a P-3 or a single member of its crew.

"I wouldn't say I enjoy getting beat up in hurricanes, but it's not boring," said NOAA Cmdr. Mark Nelson, 37, co-pilot on our flight.

We seldom see these aircraft in the Northwest. They and their crews are based in Tampa, Fla., where hurricane hunting is routine business.

But for the past few weeks, this plane has been part of NOAA's Winter Storm Reconnaissance Program, making flights over the Pacific from a temporary base in Portland.

Our mission, which occurred Friday, was to get a close look at a band of weather headed toward the West Coast, a system that could generate heavy rains this week as far away as Texas.

To accomplish that, our crew dropped 16 cardboard-covered cylinders at assigned points during the flight. As the tubes fell to earth, transmitters inside sent back readings on temperature, humidity, pressure, wind speed and direction.

The results not only help shape National Weather Service forecasts; they're being used in a new project to study "atmospheric rivers" — bands of low-level moisture with long-term implications for flooding, snowpack and water-resource management.

Donning the survival suits had been a preflight exercise to make sure Times photographer Erika Schultz and I could manage them if necessary. As soon as we got them on, we were allowed to take them off, though they rode the entire flight in a bin near our seats, bright-orange reminders of what could happen.

Just before departure, NOAA Cmdr. Barry Choy, the day's aircraft commander, briefed the entire crew on what-if scenarios and procedures.

Virtually every object on the aircraft is either bolted, strapped or tied down — fire extinguishers, cardboard boxes, coffee urn, binders full of paperwork. That dent on the overhead handrail? We're told it was made by a life raft that wasn't secured when the plane hit a dip.

This is no luxury vehicle. Plain metal cabinets, panels, and even the padding against the inside of the fuselage are all a government-issue shade of yellow-tan, with plenty of nicks and scratches attesting to their use.

Shortly after takeoff, Choy clicked off the "fasten seat belt" light and we could roam around the interior of the 116-foot-long plane, watching the work of each of the nine crew members — pilots, flight engineers, navigator, meteorologists, electronics technicians. About half were NOAA Corps officers, the others were civilians.

Seasoned hurricane hunters such as Steve Wade, 60, a flight engineer, track not the number of flights they've made, but the number of "penetrations" into hurricanes — and he has more than 400 in his 19 years with NOAA. A typical hurricane mission flies through the storm from several angles and at different altitudes.

"You get some serious updrafts and downdrafts. At times you feel weightless and if you weren't strapped in you end up in the overhead. ... It can be pretty unnerving," said Wade.

Nelson told of a particularly harrowing flight last year in which three of the plane's four engines shut down about 500 miles east of Newfoundland.

On that mission, with Nelson as commander, heavy seas and severe updrafts carried enough sea salt up to the plane's 3,000-foot elevation to coat the engine compressor blades, choking the engines.

In seven minutes, the plane dropped more than 2,000 feet, and it was only about 800 feet above the 40-foot seas when it went through a heavy rain shower that rinsed away enough salt to let the engines be restarted.

"For a while I honestly thought we weren't going to make it," he said.

In comparison, our 2,100-mile flight out over the Pacific Ocean was a walk in the park. Only once did turbulence prompt Choy to click on the "fasten seat belt" sign sending everyone back to their seats to ride out a bumpy patch.

At the heart of this mission was the work of Bill Olney, 40, an electronics technician, who prepared, dropped and monitored the 16-inch-long cylinders called "GPS dropwindsondes," or simply "sondes," from a French word for probe.

Worth $750 apiece but weighing less than a pound, each of these cylinders, which come wrapped in silver foil, contains a small circuit board, sensors and a little parachute to stabilize it as it falls.

At assigned points, Olney would unwrap a cylinder and place it in a tube leading out of the belly of the plane. With the flip of a switch, a hatch would open and the low pressure outside would suck the sonde away with a whoosh.

Shortly after each device left the plane, Olney tracked its readings, displayed as colored lines on a screen. Dropped from 21,000 feet, a sonde takes about eight minutes to hit the water, sending back readings every half-second.

We watched the readings from one, which showed winds drop from 71 mph on high to 9 mph at sea level. During that same fall, the temperature rose from 26 degrees below zero Fahrenheit to 50 above.

A blue line on the screen revealed the contents of the clouds below us: The sonde reported a sharp increase in humidity from 15,500 feet down to 9,000 feet.

Operating this aircraft costs between $5,000 and $15,000 an hour, depending on its mission, crew size, equipment used, fuel costs, travel expenses and other variables.

A hurricane flight, which helps plot a storm's likely track, can save some money for local governments, since it's estimated to cost more than $1 million per mile of coastline to prepare for a major storm.

But this is about more than money, said Nelson. "We feel we are absolutely saving lives," he said. "When we allow forecasters to make predictions about where a storm is going to go, how long it's going to last and how strong its winds are, they can get people safely out of its way."
Member Since: 3.07.2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125753
1229. pottery
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 20:23 (GMT)
I'm back.
Some good points re; the set-up for the coming season.
Concerning landfalling storms in the CONUS, and especialy the Eastern Seaboard, a lot will depend on the location and strength of the Bermuda high, not so ?
Member Since: 24.10.2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23115
1228. lindenii
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 20:22 (GMT)
How can you tell when 'blog bullys' are losing a discussion?

.....When they question you about your 'credentials' !!

:-)>
1227. hurricane23
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 20:22 (GMT)
1226. NEwxguy 4:16 PM EDT on March 11, 2008
thanks 23,that does bring back some memories

No problem at all....John was the best of the best in my opinion nobody when into details like him.
Member Since: 14.05.2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
1226. NEwxguy
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 20:16 (GMT)
thanks 23,that does bring back some memories
Member Since: 6.09.2007 Posts: 863 Comments: 15124
1225. FLBlake
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 20:10 (GMT)
JFL-
It seems you can't get past the fact that I don't believe companies are evil. I don't have time to search thru eons of boring posts about belittling people who challenge your opinions. This is another tactic of narrow minded, angry people.

"I got nothing else from your posts."

The same could easily be said of your predictable one sided point of view. Corporations=Bad
Government Control/Socialism=Good

I never claimed to have a degree. I made a few loose statements, and asked for some info. Isn't that what a blog is typically used for? From what I can tell this is a pretty good place, aside from a couple assholes, and I'll continue to read and post. Some of us weren't born knowing everything, and I'm at least open to listening to other points of view.
1224. hurricane23
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 19:59 (GMT)
1222. NEwxguy 3:53 PM EDT on March 11, 2008
23,thats why I think the east coast is so vulnerable,its been so long since the east coast has been hit,everyone is very complacent.
Especially up here in new england,probably half the people haven't experienced a hurricane,but no one should let their guard down.

Things could get rather active for parts of the eastcoast this season.

Remember this!! I sure do. I miss john big time.

Member Since: 14.05.2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
1223. biff4ugo
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 19:56 (GMT)
Does anyone know where stand in the AMO ossilation and 11 year solar cycle? Have we passed the warming peak in both of them?
Member Since: 28.12.2006 Posts: 113 Comments: 1501
1222. NEwxguy
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 19:53 (GMT)
23,thats why I think the east coast is so vulnerable,its been so long since the east coast has been hit,everyone is very complacent.
Especially up here in new england,probably half the people haven't experienced a hurricane,but no one should let their guard down.
Member Since: 6.09.2007 Posts: 863 Comments: 15124
1221. hurricane23
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 19:49 (GMT)
1214. AWeatherLover 1:30 PM EDT on March 11, 2008
Klotzbach and Grey seem to be calling for only a slightly above average season. Very slight. Looking forward to their report once hurricane season gets closer. I have a feeling that will change, but who knows. Could be more like a 2007 season. I've heard La Nina is weakening. Thoughts? Could there be more hurricanes this season than previously reported?

First of grays december forcast is really what you call garbage as its impossible to even get an idea on what the season might look like sooo far away.My best advice is wait till late april or early may to see how the atlantic is behaveing in terms of what patterns and features might be in place.My worry is that the public has fallen asleep when it comes to hurricane preps cause of the 2 mild seasons we have seen for the U.S.unfortunately i think the only thing that will get folks attention once again is a major hurricane strike some were on the U.S. iam truly hopeing for another quite one this season but if you asked me the odds favor atleast one tropical cyclone making landfall this year in the united states now were that will be no one knows thats why hurricane preparation is always very important and should be completed come june1 if you live near a hurricane prone area.

Hurricane prepardness week starts may25!

Remember even a slow seasons have the possibity of haveing huge impacts 1992 is a prime example.Only takes one over your community to do the damage.

www.AdriansWeather.com
Member Since: 14.05.2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
1219. FLBlake
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 18:07 (GMT)
Pottery-
Thank you for recognizing there are two sides to this issue. I don't think anyone is denying global warming is happening. It's the driving force behind the phenomenon that is up for debate. Depending on who you ask of course.

I made one comment on how many parts of the world were experiencing the coldest winter in 50 years. I was then systematically fed the condescending, you don't know anything routine. Supplied with all the formal color charts, bells and whistles that Algore himself would be proud of. Then he'd eat it. I just don't like being muffled, and suppresed by some blog bully who for all anyone knows, could be a complete kook. That's all I have left for this one....... and I'm spent.
1218. atmoaggie
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 17:53 (GMT)
A notice from email about dropsonde data in TCs some of you might wish to know:

SUBJECT: ENHANCEMENT TO THE TEMPDROP MESSAGE:
EFFECTIVE MAY 15 2008

THE TEMPDROP MESSAGE PROVIDES REAL-TIME OBSERVATIONS FROM
DROPWINDSONDES RELEASED IN AND AROUND TROPICAL CYCLONES. THE
CURRENT MESSAGE FORMAT PROVIDES INSUFFICIENT LOCATION PRECISION
FOR CERTAIN DROPWINDSONDES RELEASED IN VERY STRONG WINDS CLOSE TO
THE CENTER OF CIRCULATION.

EFFECTIVE MAY 15 2008 THE FOLLOWING CHANGES WILL BE MADE TO THE
62626 NATIONALLY-DEVELOPED CODE GROUP IN THE TEMPDROP MESSAGE:

1. ADDITION OF A RELEASE LOCATION/TIME DESIGNATOR...CODED /REL/
2. ADDITION OF A NEW SPLASH LOCATION/TIME DESIGNATOR...CODED /SPG/

NOTE: THE FORMER SPLASH/LOCATION TIME DESIGNATOR...CODED
SPL...WILL BE RETAINED BUT LIKELY NOT BE USED.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE NEW 62626 CODE GROUP FOLLOWS:

62626 REL XXXXNXXXXXW HHMMSS SPG XXXXNXXXXXW HHMMSS

COMPLETE TEMPDROP MESSAGE FORMATS ARE PROVIDED IN THE NHOP. SEE
TABLE G-6. THE NHOP IS PROVIDED ONLINE AT /USE LOWER CASE
LETTERS/:

HTTP://WWW.OFCM.GOV/HOMEPAGE/TEXT/PUBS.HTM

THE 2007 NHOP IS NOW POSTED ON THE INTERNET AND THE 2008 NHOP
WILL BE POSTED BY JUNE 1 2008.
Member Since: 16.08.2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
1217. FLBlake
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 17:44 (GMT)
Sully-
I was asking if you had any data you could post regarding the total Co2 contributed to humans. And what methods are used to compile such data.
You wrote as if you have some insight on the subject, and I've asked an another message board without any real response.
1215. pottery
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 17:33 (GMT)
I'm back to work. Check you all later..........
Member Since: 24.10.2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23115
1214. AWeatherLover
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 17:30 (GMT)
Klotzbach and Grey seem to be calling for only a slightly above average season. Very slight. Looking forward to their report once hurricane season gets closer. I have a feeling that will change, but who knows. Could be more like a 2007 season. I've heard La Nina is weakening. Thoughts? Could there be more hurricanes this season than previously reported?
Member Since: 2.11.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 431
1213. pottery
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 17:27 (GMT)
Yes Weatherman, I'm waiting to see how things shape up in June as well.
It does seem that the SAL hold a lot of the cards that will detirmine what comes, and it should be an interesting one.
Member Since: 24.10.2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23115
1212. pottery
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 17:23 (GMT)
Its been fun reading through the last few days entries, and noting the two sides of the G/W, Big Oil, Who Did What disscusions.
What vexes me is the attitude that one side is right, and the other side is talking crap and should be banned or something.
I enjoy the argument but really, there are 2 opposing points of view, and both sides have valid points to make.
It is not good to dis each other in these topics, because there is as yet not enough hard evidence to show one thing or the other conclusivly.
I have very strong views on the subject, but appreciate hearing the other side ( even if you are talking crap ! )heheheh
So keep it coming.......


Member Since: 24.10.2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23115
1211. weathermanwannabe
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 17:17 (GMT)
Things can change over the next several months (don't know when the "peak" of the SAR actually is), but, you are correct; an absence of significant dust layers would allow for better warming of the cyclogenisis region off of West Africa, and, be less of a dry air obstacle for the waves once they start coming off the coast.....However, I'm staying away from any potential cause and effect until we get closer to July and August to see what conditions look like at that time....If the pattern you are suggesting holds, then we can expect a higher percentage of tropical depressions forming as the waves come off the coast but the odds of the complete "crossing" into the tropics intact is another thing...We will see
Member Since: 8.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8311
1209. pottery
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 16:52 (GMT)
Good day all.
Still experiencing unusual weather here in Trinidad. ( 11n 61w)
The dry season has not yet set in at all, although it would normally do that in Feb.
The persistant jet stream from northern South America toward north Africa seems to have kept the Sahara Dust away as well. Visibility is good, and from where I am at 300 Feet I can see all the way down to the Andes on the Paria Peninsula of Venezuela . For the past couple of years, the visibility has been very low, and the absense of the dust is great.
The BAD NEWS is, that if the dust and the associated dry air from Africa dont materialise this season, then we will probably be looking at a very active Atlantic Hurricane season.

Any comments ?
Member Since: 24.10.2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23115
1208. atmoaggie
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 16:34 (GMT)
Good then at least provide ONE valid argument. ONE, cant you guys even do that.

The charge of a valid argument falls in the court of those wishing to change the status quo.
Member Since: 16.08.2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
1207. sullivanweather
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 16:15 (GMT)
Have a good rest!
Member Since: 8.03.2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
1206. beell
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 16:12 (GMT)
You made one...53 here. Time for my nap lol.
Member Since: 11.09.2007 Posts: 137 Comments: 15358
1205. sullivanweather
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 16:09 (GMT)
hahaha

Only 26 here. I was trying to make a point...LOL
Member Since: 8.03.2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
1204. beell
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 16:07 (GMT)
Still would not be surprised to see something at the tail end of this front.

NGM? You must be older than me...j/k
Member Since: 11.09.2007 Posts: 137 Comments: 15358
1203. sullivanweather
11. maaliskuuta 2008 klo 16:03 (GMT)
Well, at least we don't have to rely on the nested grid model anymore...LOL

It's fun to look at the model and laugh at it...
Member Since: 8.03.2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612

Viewing: 1253 - 1203

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Clear
48 °F
Selkeää