The 6 lost Hurricane Hunter missions, Part I: the Oct 1, 1945 typhoon

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:43 PM GMT on June 25, 2009

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Dr. Masters is on vacation this week, so we're posting some blogs he wrote before hitting the road.

People have been flying into hurricanes and typhoons ever since 1943, when Colonel Joe Duckworth took a single engine AT-6 trainer aircraft into the "Surprise" hurricane off the coast of Texas. Hurricane hunting became safer with the introduction of sturdier 4-engine planes, but flying through the eyewall of any hurricane remains a dangerous occupation to this day--one that has claimed the lives of 53 crewmen of the six Hurricane Hunter flights that never made it back. Five of these flights were into Pacific typhoons, between the years 1945 and 1974. One Atlantic flight was lost, the 1955 Snowcloud Five mission into Category 4 Hurricane Janet. I will be running a six-part feature this hurricane season to honor the Hurricane Hunters that gave their lives in service to those us in the path of these great and deadly storms.

The first Typhoon Hunter plane was lost on October 1, 1945, when a Navy PB4Y-2 (BuNo 59415) went down in a Category 1 typhoon over the South China Sea. Pilot Lt(jg) Ralph Cook and Crew #34 of Patrol Bombing Squadron VPB119 took off from Clark Field in the Philippines at 0950 on October 1, 1945, to track and make half hourly in-flight reports on a typhoon at 22N 119E, between Taiwan and the Philippine Islands. Lt. Cook's fourth in-flight report was received by Base Radar at 1230, and gave his position as 20-06°N 120-08°E, altitude 9500 ft, heavy rain, visibility 50-200 yards, wind south at 40 knots, and slight turbulence. He was never heard from again. The entire area was searched thoroughly by a total of forty flights over a period of seven days. The wreckage of the airplane was finally found on Batan Island just north of Luzon in the Philippines (approximately 20-22°N 121-56°E). According to the Veteran's Administration grave locator data base, the crew remains are interred in a common grave at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, KY. Of the six typhoon/hurricane hunter flights that never returned, this is the only one where the wreckage of the airplane was found. I speculate that since the aircraft was flying at relatively high altitude (9500 feet), they were not hurled into the ocean by a sudden downdraft. Instead, the airplane must have experienced a severe mechanical failure inside the typhoon. They were then forced to attempt an emergency landing on rugged Batan Island, which was being lashed by heavy rain and 40 - 60 mph winds at the time. The crewmen lost on the mission were:

Lt(jg) Ralph F. Cook A-V(N) USNR (Pilot)
Ens Harold E. Raveche A-V(N) USNR
Lt(jg) Oscar L. Smith A-V(N) USNR
AMM2c Kenneth D. Griffore USNR
ARM2c Darly B. Miler USNR
AOM1c James A Dugan USNR
ARM1c Royce A. Lamb USNR

Sources: "The Hurricane Hunters", a 1955 book by Ivan Tannehill; http://www.vpnavy.com/vp119_mishap_1940.html; personal communication, Dave Deatherage, son of Paul Deatherage, ART 1c, VPB119, 1944-45.


Figure 1. Six of the seven crew members of the first aircraft ever lost in a tropical cyclone, the October 1, 1945 loss of Navy PB4Y-2 (BuNo 59415). The photo of Ltjg Ralph Cook and Crew #34 of Patrol Bombing Squadron VPB119 was taken by Lt. Sylvester S. 'Bud' Aichele in late August or September of 1945. Cook and crew were a replacement crew that arrived at Clark Field on 22 August 1945. Left to right (standing: L.P. Hill, James A Dugan, Harold E. Raveche, Ralph F. Cook, C. F. Poland, Darly B. Miler, A. J. Kalton. Bottom row: N. P. Chamberlain, Royce A. Lamb, F. B. Arden, T. V. Wisely, Kenneth D. Griffore.


Figure 2. A PB4Y-2 aircraft in flight. These 4-engine patrol bombers were a modified version of the WWII B-24 bomber. They served as typhoon hunter aircraft from 1945 until the mid-1950s. Image credit: Max Crow, USS Whitehurst Association.

Jeff Masters

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1391. weathersp
3:40 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
GOES Rapid Fire
Member Since: January 14, 2007 Posts: 17 Comments: 4140
1390. BahaHurican
3:30 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Morning all

Small brag. I knew there was a reason to watch that Twave.. . .

That MLC could have blown for days to no effect. Add one little low level distortion, and BLAM!

lol

Ahhh. . . tropical interest. . . .
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20733
1389. Stormchaser2007
3:23 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
1388. nrtiwlnvragn
3:18 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
New Blog
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 13 Comments: 10466
1387. fire635
3:08 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
The faster that MCC dies, the better chance the LLC near Central America has. It'll be interesting how/where the new convection reforms over the LLC over the next few hours.


It seems to me that the MCC is starting to noticeably lose convection and move farther north out of the way.
Member Since: June 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 483
1386. RitaEvac
3:08 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Benito Juarez on the Yucatan looks to take a hit from this
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9625
1385. K8eCane
3:06 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
The faster that MCC dies, the better chance the LLC near Central America has. It'll be interesting how/where the new convection reforms over the LLC over the next few hours.



yes next couple of days should indeed be interesting
Member Since: April 26, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 3041
1384. Stormchaser2007
3:02 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
The faster that MCC dies, the better chance the LLC near Central America has. It'll be interesting how/where the new convection reforms over the LLC over the next few hours.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15718
1383. Patrap
3:00 PM GMT on June 26, 2009


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
1382. CJ5
3:00 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Plenty of convergence with the surface low off of Central America.



Yep, the new map made a big difference...may be on to something now.
Member Since: July 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1755
1381. RitaEvac
2:59 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Of some concern is some models have the high losing its grip over the plains somewhat next week...
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9625
1380. Orcasystems
2:58 PM GMT on June 26, 2009

Invest 93L

Invest 93L


Off to work... have fun :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493
1379. iluvjess
2:57 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Dramatic blow up of convection over the LLC. TCHP looks low in that area but higher where it's headed.
1378. K8eCane
2:57 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
its moving NW
Member Since: April 26, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 3041
1377. SomeRandomTexan
2:56 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
As its already been stated the invest is not the big MCC over by Cuba its that little blow up right off the central american coast... its small not the big thing....
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1837
1376. afj3
2:53 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Thanks!!!
Member Since: June 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 346
1375. Ossqss
2:46 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting afj3:
Does anyone have links to the models? Someone gave it to me recently but my hard drive crashed and I lost them. Much appreciated!


Try this,and scroll down.

Link

L8R -- I'll be back for the blame storming session later.
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8183
1374. Stormchaser2007
2:45 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting fire635:
Looks to me as if the LLC is to the west of the majority of the convection


It is that way. Convection is firing near it right now.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15718
1373. RitaEvac
2:45 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Our invest is the new blow-up of convection off of Central America. Not the old MCC.



See post 1313
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9625
1371. fire635
2:43 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Looks to me as if the LLC is to the west of the majority of the convection
Member Since: June 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 483
1370. naplesdreamer28
2:41 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
So does that change the thinking of where its heading. Its hard to not see how it looks to be N if not almost right under FL.
Member Since: July 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 242
1369. Stormchaser2007
2:41 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting afj3:
Does anyone have links to the models? Someone gave it to me recently but my hard drive crashed and I lost them. Much appreciated!


GFDL and HWRF havent been run. Heres the operational models. Link


Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15718
1368. fire635
2:41 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting Funkadelic:
Wow looking at the models most were in agreement that its going into the gulf then move westward....But theres one model that has almost the same path as Wilma... That wouldnt be good, but hopefully it seems unlikely!


Sorry.. but WAAAAY too early to be fixing on potential paths. The models barely have somthing to try to track right now.
Member Since: June 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 483
1367. afj3
2:40 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Does anyone have links to the models? Someone gave it to me recently but my hard drive crashed and I lost them. Much appreciated!
Member Since: June 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 346
1366. Stormchaser2007
2:39 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Our invest is the new blow-up of convection off of Central America. Not the old MCC.

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15718
1365. Stormchaser2007
2:37 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Large area of shear. I would reconsider its development for the time being.

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15718
1364. reedzone
2:36 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
However, if the 5-10 knots of wind shear that is near the Yucatan stays, we might have an interesting night tonight with a possible (90L) situation where it organizes right before landfall.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7334
1363. Buhdog
2:36 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Indian river guy....

what a great site...i wonder if there is one for my side of the state. Our blue crabs were practically wiped out. This year with the drought I actually had some crab and snook in the canals off the river Most brackish its been in years....oh yeah, no red tide either...hmmmm.
Member Since: July 30, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 958
1362. Stormchaser2007
2:35 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Plenty of convergence with the surface low off of Central America.



Still some divergence.

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15718
1361. reedzone
2:33 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
NEW SHEAR MAP!!
It's under 20 knots of shear, a bit too high for development.


http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/atlantic/winds/wg8shr.html
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7334
1360. Buhdog
2:33 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Great question GTO I wish i knew the answer. Maybe the water is quickly rushed out sea and the shallow water just warms up quickly again...Even with the recent rain...the temps are above normal and probably reheat fast.
Member Since: July 30, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 958
1359. weathersp
2:31 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Ooohhh.. this wasn't here last night..

Member Since: January 14, 2007 Posts: 17 Comments: 4140
1358. beell
2:30 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


No Beell, just the running blog "joke" on his observation. It's not a forecasting tool.


And why I called it a statistical tool.
Thanks!
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 137 Comments: 15324
1357. gator23
2:30 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Why does it look like its moving north on the satellite. i know its not. i was just wondering
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2162
1356. indianrivguy
2:30 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting Buhdog:
Another reason the SWFL coast cools and heats quickly is The calusahatchee river...intercoastal river that is HUGE! All of the rainwater floods down to the coast. When we have dry spells of high pressure it can soar! (we hit 91 this week) Like jeff said...it is shallow too...this is why when Lake O releases their lake on us we get red tide....all that fresh water mixes with shallow ocean water and Bam!


I belong to this group on the other end on the okeechobee discharges.

Rivers Coalition
Member Since: September 23, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 2429
1355. nrtiwlnvragn
2:29 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting beell:
I don't think I dragged him through the mud, did I nrt? Not my intent anyway.

And thanks for the additional information.
)


No Beell, just the running blog "joke" on his observation. It's not a forecasting tool.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 13 Comments: 10466
1354. K8eCane
2:30 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting gator23:


Probably he was horribly chastised yesterday.


well if thats what happened he really should come on out
blog bullying isnt funny
Member Since: April 26, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 3041
1353. naplesdreamer28
2:28 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Looks to me its trying to tighten up a bit. Getting more of that oval/circular shape, maybe why convection decreased a bit.
Member Since: July 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 242
1352. reedzone
2:25 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Here we go, lets get those Hunters packed and ready for flight!

WEATHER RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS
CARCAH, National Hurricane Center, MIAMI, FL.
0900 AM EDT FRI 26 JUNE 2009
SUBJECT: TROPICAL CYCLONE PLAN OF THE DAY (TCPOD)
VALID 27/1100Z TO 28/1100Z JUNE 2009
TCPOD NUMBER.....09-029

I. ATLANTIC REQUIREMENTS
1. NEGATIVE RECONNAISSANCE REQUIREMENTS.
2. OUTLOOK FOR SUCCEEDING DAY; POSSIBLE LOW LEVEL
INVEST NEAR 23N 90W AT 28/1800Z.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7334
1351. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
2:25 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting tarpontexas:
It will be interesting to see what emerges off the Yucatan (and where) on Sunday morning/afternoon.
aye keep yer head up and yer eyes wide open
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52262
1350. WindynEYW
2:26 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Member Since: September 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 331
1349. Patrap
2:25 PM GMT on June 26, 2009

IR


WV
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
1348. beell
2:25 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
I don't think I dragged him through the mud, did I nrt? Not my intent anyway.

And thanks for the additional information.
)
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 137 Comments: 15324
1347. gtodude
2:24 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting Buhdog:
Another reason the SWFL coast cools and heats quickly is The calusahatchee river...intercoastal river that is HUGE! All of the rainwater floods down to the coast. When we have dry spells of high pressure it can soar! (we hit 91 this week) Like jeff said...it is shallow too...this is why when Lake O releases their lake on us we get red tide....all that fresh water mixes with shallow ocean water and Bam!


Buhdog, I live in Punta Gorda and yes it has been quite warm here as well the past two weeks...if fact I think we hit 96+ a couple times. So my take is that due to all of the rain that the Cape had, along with rain along the tributary system of the Caloosahatchee all contribute to the cooling of the gulf. I understand that completely, but that raises another question. If that is the case, why would the cooling appear according to that model happen so far offshore rather than from the river out? I'm sorry if these newbie questions are stupid, but its only stupid if I don't ask. :)
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 9
1346. CybrTeddy
2:23 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting fishcop:
nice day in Grand Cayman! I feel sorry for our visitors but what a sweet relief from the relentless heat over the last few weeks. Lets hope this thing doesn't make it past invest 93.


Eventually, one way or another an invest is going to make it past 9*L status this season.
I like the way 456 put it, the later we hav to wait for the first named storm to form, the stronger that will be. Case and point, Andrew and Alex.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23012
1345. Patrap
2:23 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Wunderful...you run with Hebert Boxes,I'll run with the NHC and the available tools.

Why not do a Blog on Paul Hebert?

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
1344. tarpontexas
2:23 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
It will be interesting to see what emerges off the Yucatan (and where) on Sunday morning/afternoon.
1343. reedzone
2:23 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Notice the good Doc is on vacation and a Invest has formed, never fails, never fails lol.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7334
1342. gator23
2:21 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting Funkadelic:
Wow looking at the models most were in agreement that its going into the gulf then move westward....But theres one model that has almost the same path as Wilma... That wouldnt be good, but hopefully it seems unlikely!


Without a center of circulation models really cant initiate correctly. focus more on paths after a center appears.
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2162
1341. nrtiwlnvragn
2:20 PM GMT on June 26, 2009
Quoting Patrap:
Hebert was a good forecaster,However applying Hebert Boxes to a forecast isnt the way its done.

Paul Hebert designed the boxes with a Bias to One Land Mass..so its inherently flawed.

Today,..the tools at hand are much better tools to define path and strength.





Hebert did not design anything, he just made an observation based on historical major hurricanes hitting South Florida.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 13 Comments: 10466

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About JeffMasters

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