The Lost Hurricane/Typhoon Hunters VI: Typhoon Bess, October 12th, 1974

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:20 PM GMT on December 28, 2009

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It's getting to be the end of the year, and its time to conclude the 6-part series I began earlier this year honoring the memory of the hurricane and typhoon hunter missions that never returned to base. I've made a permanent link to the series on the "Articles of Interest" section of our tropical/hurricane page.

The most recent recent loss of a Hurricane Hunter flight came on October 12, 1974. An Air Force WC-130H (tail number 65-0965, call sign Swan 38), from the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron based at Anderson AFB, Guam, was lost in the South China Sea while flying Category 1 Typhoon Bess. Bess had formed east of the Philippines on October 8, then passed over northern Luzon Island on the 11th, triggering flooding and landslides that killed 29 people and caused $9 million in damage. On the 12th, Bess emerged over the South China Sea as a minimal Category 1 typhoon with 75 mph winds, and "Swan 38" was sent out to provide reconnaissance information. The aircraft had only recently arrived at the 54th WRS after having been converted to WC-130H, and had previously spent eight years assigned to combat rescue as an HC-130H. Swan 38 departed Clark Air Base in the Philippines, and successfully completed its first penetration and most of an "Alpha pattern" peripheral track. They were preparing for their second penetration, on the north side of the storm about 400 miles northwest of Clark AFB, when the last radio contact came at about 2200. An investigation board later speculated the crew was on the final leg inbound to make a second fix when they encountered some catastrophic problem. No emergency communications were received. Four days of relentless searching by rescue aircraft and two surface ships proved unsuccessful, and the six crewmen were declared missing and presumed dead. The name "Bess" was retired from the active list of typhoon names as a result of the loss, and the call sign "Swan 38" was also retired. A plaque honoring the crew was affixed to the squadron building at Andersen AFB (the plaque was removed when the 54th closed in 1987, and it's whereabouts are currently unknown). The crew members, carried on AWS rolls as Killed In Action, were:

Capt Edward R. Bushnell
1Lt Gary W. Crass
1Lt Michael P. O'Brien
1Lt Timothy J. Hoffman
TSgt Kenneth G. Suhr
Sgt Detlef W. Ringler


Figure 1. Above: plaque dedicated to the crew of Swan 38 (WC-130H 65-0965), located at Kirtland AFB. Inset image, top left: Swan 38 during an engine-running crew change at Guam in 1974. Image credit: Tom Robison.

Sources: Air Reconnaissance Weather Association May 2008 Newsletter; New York Times 13 Oct 1974 58:1; http://www.awra.us/WhiskeyCharlie.html by Tom Robison, 1974 Annual Typhoon report of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Other notes:
The Air Force has had 24 weather reconnaissance missions that have resulted in loss of life; only three of these were typhoon flights. A full list of the missions is at the Air Weather Reconnaissance Association web site.

Special addendum: a Cold War mystery
September 10, 1956: An Air Force RB-50G Superfortress flying in the vicinity of Typhoon Emma was lost over the Sea of Japan. This was not a typhoon hunting aircraft, as is often reported. The aircraft was stationed at Yokota Air Base, Japan, and assigned to the 41st Air Division, 5th Air Force, and was performing electronic of photographic intelligence of the Soviet Union, North Korea, and China. The military gave out a "cover story" saying that the aircraft was lost performing weather reconnaissance. From Bernie Barris of the Air Reconnaissance Weather Association, "This aircraft was NOT lost in a typhoon penetration, nor was it shot down by the Soviets, as was often speculated. It was an RB-50G on a Strategic Reconnaissance mission. Everything I've read is that they were on the fringes of the typhoon, but more than likely the plane was lost due to mechanical problems, which plagued the B-50 in the 1950's. The typhoon did impact search efforts. The Soviets never released any records of tracking or attacking this flight; it is one of those true Cold War mysteries."


Figure 2. A Popular Mechanics cover story from 1950 dramatized the dangers that the early typhoon hunters faced. From the article: "It is impossible for me to describe accurately or exaggerate the severity of the turbulence we encountered. To some it may sound utterly fantastic, but to me it was a flight for life. I have flown many weather missions in my 30 months with the 514th Reconnaissance Squadron. I have flown night combat missions in rough weather out of England, and I have instructed instrument flying in the States, but never have I dreamed of such turbulence as we encountered in Typhoon Beverly. It is amazing to me the ship held together as it did."

Next post
My final post of the year will be on Wednesday or Thursday. I plan to present my pick for the top U.S. weather story of 2009.

Jeff Masters

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438. unf97
Quoting Drakoen:


Upper 40s to lower 50s


I agree with that Drak. That how I see the max temps down there as well if the ECMWF verifies next week. Definitely no warmer than the mid 50s at the best.
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If this arctic blast happens to happen, what would the high temps in jacksonville,fl likely be?
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grother, my abbs are off,, clt>? is that charlotte nc?
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hey amy
building here is boiler heat 6 boilers operating on a 3 phase system 3 units heat east side 3 units heat w side temps are set at 70 occupied units 68 un-occupied units
right at the moment we are at stage 3 water temps in system are running at 160 supply 140 return under 20 psi the max out point is 170 but it has to fall below 0 f for that temp we almost made it last night got down to low of +0.3f 0r -17.6c
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Quoting Floodman:
C'mon, Bordonaro...everyone likes a little cold every now and again...LOL

About the "Is it ever too cold to snow" and ex-girlfriend of mine's dad was in the 101st in Bastogne; he said that in the town itself the temp was about 15F, but in the trees to the east of the town it was at least 10 degrees colder and he remembers a very bad snow (4-6") just after Christmas; he had been in the town earlier in the day scrounging...he was Dog company by the way


Ha, ha, ha! You're right..
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting jipmg:
Alright a question, if this arctic blast happens to happen, what would the high temps in miami likely be? Mid to upper 60s (thats what the mets are forecasting) or potentially only in the 50s?


Upper 40s to lower 50s
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Quoting Floodman:
A little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperture does everyone keep the thermostat set at for heat...

TampaSpin---70....im a whimp

Floodman 68-70 daytime, 66 overnight


70 year 'round...it's a compromise...'cause she'd keep it at 60...and I'd keep it at 80...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
431. unf97
Quoting jipmg:
Alright a question, if this arctic blast happens to happen, what would the high temps in miami likely be? Mid to upper 60s (thats what the mets are forecasting) or potentially only in the 50s?


If the models verify with the depth of this Arctic air mass, I see max temps in South FL only mid 50s at best. It may be even slightly colder, we will see how trend is with the models.
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Quoting unf97:
Drak, thanks for posting that 500 mb charts comparison. I was thinking of posting that myself after seeing these runs a short time ago.

Yes, they are very similar indeed with their 500 mb analysis for next Tuesday. The GFS and ECMWF are be oming more and more in line with time for next week's big cold weather outbreak.


The GFS is two days slower but nonetheless the same deep longwave diving down. The ECMWF is the coldest with 528dm in the 500mb charts over the south.
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A little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperture does everyone keep the thermostat set at for heat...

TampaSpin---70....im a whimp

Floodman 68-70 daytime, 66 overnight

BobinTampa -- Heat??? Who turns the heat on in Florida?? It was 52 inside my house this a.m. Slept with the windows open.

Grothar: When the temperature gets this low, I have a setting on my thermostat that is set at "hysterical". I keep it there until the outside temperature reaches a resonable 75 deg; a temperature at which life is sustainable.

T-Dude: Well during the nice and cold winters here, I usually keep it around 65, it feels just fine after coming in from the frigid temps!

NRAamy: we don't....I like it cold at night...I sleep better....

HurriKanEB: 60ish. no higher than 65.
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:




The Frozen "Chosen"....


Yep...I was looking to see if I could verify the storm but records for Korea in places other than Seoul, Pusan or Incheon don't exist...

As far as the storm in December 1944 in Bastogne, that's a well documented event.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
427. jipmg
Alright a question, if this arctic blast happens to happen, what would the high temps in miami likely be? Mid to upper 60s (thats what the mets are forecasting) or potentially only in the 50s?
426. unf97
Drak, thanks for posting that 500 mb charts comparison. I was thinking of posting that myself after seeing these runs a short time ago.

Yes, they are very similar indeed with their 500 mb analysis for next Tuesday. The GFS and ECMWF are becoming more and more in line with each other as time progresses for next week's big cold weather outbreak.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
A little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperture does everyone keep the thermostat set at for heat...

TampaSpin---70....im a whimp

Floodman 68-70 daytime, 66 overnight

BobinTampa -- Heat??? Who turns the heat on in Florida?? It was 52 inside my house this a.m. Slept with the windows open.

Grothar: When the temperature gets this low, I have a setting on my thermostat that is set at "hysterical". I keep it there until the outside temperature reaches a resonable 75 deg; a temperature at which life is sustainable.

T-Dude: Well during the nice and cold winters here, I usually keep it around 65, it feels just fine after coming in from the frigid temps!

NRAamy: we don't....I like it cold at night...I sleep better....


Doug 67-68
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ECMWF shoots Arctic Air into the Deep South next week:

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Quoting Floodman:


In January or February 1952 it snowed some 26" in Korea along the 38th...temperature in the low single digits, per my old man who said it was colder than a well diggers rear in Alaska (he thinks the high that day was 10F)...his company was dug into a hillside in what is now the DMZ




The Frozen "Chosen"....
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C'mon, Bordonaro...everyone likes a little cold every now and again...LOL

About the "Is it ever too cold to snow" and ex-girlfriend of mine's dad was in the 101st in Bastogne; he said that in the town itself the temp was about 15F, but in the trees to the east of the town it was at least 10 degrees colder and he remembers a very bad snow (4-6") just after Christmas; he had been in the town earlier in the day scrounging...he was Dog company by the way
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
What interesting is that the GFS and the ECMWF 500mb charts look nearly identical in the long-range with the ECMWF even colder:

ECMWF:


GFS:
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A little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperture does everyone keep the thermostat set at for heat...

TampaSpin---70....im a whimp

Floodman 68-70 daytime, 66 overnight

BobinTampa -- Heat??? Who turns the heat on in Florida?? It was 52 inside my house this a.m. Slept with the windows open.

Grothar: When the temperature gets this low, I have a setting on my thermostat that is set at "hysterical". I keep it there until the outside temperature reaches a resonable 75 deg; a temperature at which life is sustainable.

T-Dude: Well during the nice and cold winters here, I usually keep it around 65, it feels just fine after coming in from the frigid temps!

NRAamy: we don't....I like it cold at night...I sleep better....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
A little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperture does everyone keep the thermostat set at for heat...

TampaSpin---70....im a whimp

Floodman 68-70 daytime, 66 overnight

BobinTampa -- Heat??? Who turns the heat on in Florida?? It was 52 inside my house this a.m. Slept with the windows open.

Inkthepage-(near Boston MA) 67 days 60 nights
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little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperture does everyone keep the thermostat set at for heat...

TampaSpin---70....im a whimp

Floodman 68-70 daytime, 66 overnight

BobinTampa -- Heat??? Who turns the heat on in Florida?? It was 52 inside my house this a.m. Slept with the windows open.

Grothar: When the temperature gets this low, I have a setting on my thermostat that is set at "hysterical". I keep it there until the outside temperature reaches a resonable 75 deg; a temperature at which life is sustainable.

T-Dude: Well during the nice and cold winters here, I usually keep it around 65, it feels just fine after coming in from the frigid temps!

Bordonaro: Keeps the place a nice, toasty 72, been in Texas almost 30 yrs, I'd rather it be 103 and Sunny, than 15 and Snowing :0)
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
The same to you, Amy...and a better New Year than last!
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
A little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperture does everyone keep the thermostat set at for heat...

we don't....I like it cold at night...I sleep better....
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Quoting Grothar:
If there is anyone on here at the moment who can settle a little argument. I have two friends here who insist that is can be too cold to snow. That it only snows when the temperature is in the teens, 20's or low 30's. atmoaggie, if you are there take you hands out of your warmers and please help me answer this question. I can not give them the technical explanation.


In January or February 1952 it snowed some 26" in Korea along the 38th...temperature in the low single digits, per my old man who said it was colder than a well diggers rear in Alaska (he thinks the high that day was 10F)...his company was dug into a hillside in what is now the DMZ
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
A little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperture does everyone keep the thermostat set at for heat...

TampaSpin---70....im a whimp

Floodman 68-70 daytime, 66 overnight

BobinTampa -- Heat??? Who turns the heat on in Florida?? It was 52 inside my house this a.m. Slept with the windows open.

Grothar: When the temperature gets this low, I have a setting on my thermostat that is set at "hysterical". I keep it there until the outside temperature reaches a resonable 75 deg; a temperature at which life is sustainable.

T-Dude: Well during the nice and cold winters here, I usually keep it around 65, it feels just fine after coming in from the frigid temps!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
A little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperture does everyone keep the thermostat set at for heat...

TampaSpin---70....im a whimp

Floodman 68-70 daytime, 66 overnight

BobinTampa -- Heat??? Who turns the heat on in Florida?? It was 52 inside my house this a.m. Slept with the windows open.

Grothar: When the temperature gets this low, I have a setting on my thermostat that is set at "hysterical". I keep it there until the outside temperature reaches a resonable 75 deg; a temperature at which life is sustainable.
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and with that, Happy New Year to the Main Blog....

( purple hippo exits before getting the axe )
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Quoting eyesontheweather:
Don't know from personal experiance but have heard main arteries are clear. I live in foothills of Ozark mountains and the entrance to my sub has a major hill which is very slick requiring 4 wheel dr to enter

Thanks. She should be okay...with some slow going (there are places between Shreveport and the turnpike that no one would confuse with a major artery).

And she going to the west end of 71st tonight, but below the big hill at The Oaks.
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thanks Grothar...

:)

I always behave myself....it's my purple hippo that gets out of line...

;)
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Quoting NRAamy:
is it safe to enter the blog?


As long as you behave yourself. LOL A lot of good that advice will be. Happy New Year Amy.
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The long range GFS has snow down into South Florida mid week next week.
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A little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperture does everyone keep the thermostat set at for heat...

TampaSpin---70....im a whimp

Floodman 68-70 daytime, 66 overnight

BobinTampa -- Heat??? Who turns the heat on in Florida?? It was 52 inside my house this a.m. Slept with the windows open.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting gregpinehurstnc:
i have a gas heater for a 4 room shack,,my place is made of pine knot and tarpaper, with a tin roof, thank goodness, it was part of my gg grandmothers farm,, i know to much info,, but at 110 years old ,i keep in between 68 and 72,,


Did you ever work at CLT in res or at the gate?
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Quoting Jeff9641:
Looks like heavy snow in Central Florida next week sometime maybe Thursday? I wouldn't be surprised if it snowed in S FL 2. The next 2 to 3 days of model runs will be key. This could be a devastating cold spell for Florida next week if this plans out like the GFS and Euro suggest.



wait....what???? I have to check in here more often. Did you say snow in central florida??? Looks like I picked the wrong day to stop smoking crack.
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Y'all are talking about bras...so...a Christmas song must be ok on the main blog....



Homer's Christmas song:

"We three beers that sit on a bar
Call to Homer from afar
"If you drank us, you would thank us"
something, something star...
Ohhhhhhhh......
Star of wonder, Star of cheer
Star that takes me to more beer"
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403. unf97
Quoting IKE:


Looks like Bastardi is going to be correct about a deep freeze in the east.
Quoting IKE:
216 hour 12Z GFS diving the big-time cold-air well south....



Wow. The cold NW upper level flow extends southward all the way to the NW Carribean Sea on the 216 HR GFS run. That's is an impressive Arctic outbreak of air across the Eastern 2/3 of the CONUS should this verify later next week.
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A little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperture does everyone keep the thermostat set at for heat...

TampaSpin---70....im a whimp

Floodman 68-70 daytime, 66 overnight
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Quoting Jeff9641:
Looks like heavy snow in Central Florida next week sometime maybe Thursday? I wouldn't be surprised if it snowed in S FL 2. The next 2 to 3 days of model runs will be key. This could be a devastating cold spell for Florida next week if this plans out like the GFS and Euro suggest.


This could be horrible for the farming trade in Florida.....
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is it safe to enter the blog?
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398. IKE
Quoting Bordonaro:
The GFS and EMCWF models are agreeing a significant amount of the Arctic/Siberian airmass will enter the Eastern 2/3rds of the US.


Looks like Bastardi is going to be correct about a deep freeze in the east.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
The GFS and EMCWF models are agreeing a significant amount of the Arctic/Siberian airmass will enter the Eastern 2/3rds of the US.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
396. IKE
216 hour 12Z GFS diving the big-time cold-air well south....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting TampaSpin:
A little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperture does everyone keep the thermostat set at for heat...

TampaSpin---70....im a whimp
i have a gas heater for a 4 room shack,,my place is made of pine knot and tarpaper, with a tin roof, thank goodness, it was part of my gg grandmothers farm,, i know to much info,, but at 110 years old ,i keep in between 68 and 72,,
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393. unf97
Quoting reedzone:
GFS 12z, 192-204 hours, a 1989 snowstorm hitting Florida. Snowing all the way down to Daytona Beach.


As crazy as that seems, that just may happen if the GFS and ECMWF models verify with these model runs. The latest GFS runs are beginning to look more encouraging for that scenario to happen for those looking for the white stuff. We shall see if the models continue to trend that way with the development of the GOM Low next week.
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Tampa,
Don't use the s word around here. They get really panicky. Kinda like me with the H one.
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Don't recall remembering Southern Clippers before but, this might be a first.....LOL
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Quoting largeeyes:
Looks like local met here in eastern NC is agreeing with teh cold blast. Highs Sat-Mon of 36-35-36. That's WELL below normal. Lows of 28-22-24 going into Monday morning. Brrrr.


If the moisture will be in place as it appears to be with lows riding the Dip ....get ready for some snow also.....
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Looks like local met here in eastern NC is agreeing with teh cold blast. Highs Sat-Mon of 36-35-36. That's WELL below normal. Lows of 28-22-24 going into Monday morning. Brrrr.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
377: You should put some attribution to those words you copy and paste, lest someone accuse you of plagiarism...though I expect your intent was not that we really think you typed all of that...


Thanx good point, 377 brought to you by METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315

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

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