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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Good to see the server back up and running.
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ran quick scan shutdown reboot everything seems to be fine
maybe the lines are freezing

lol
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54770
Quoting Grothar:


Geoff, Do you think we will have a freeze this far south. I may have to take in my amaryllis geflerkens. They can't take any kind of cold.


Your amaryllis geflerkens should not be exposed in any type of weather. They are strictly for inside use.
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Looks like the Jet stream dips deep into the south and does not move for nearly 7-8 days...WOW....not seen something like that in a long time.

Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
Quoting Bordonaro:


I believe AIM and gamma both received a 48 hr ban.


I still never got an answer as to who that lady was?
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Hey Drak...How you handling the cold weather? When you come back home, do you see some cold weather for our neck of the woods next week?


Definitely different from Florida. I'm handling it well. I do see the coldest weather thus far for South Florida next week right now temps ranging from mid 30s to lower 40s depending on if the ECMWF (Coldest solution) or GFS verfies.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30595
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORT WORTH TX
924 PM CST MON DEC 28 2009

.UPDATE...
THE LATEST MODEL DATA COMING IN HAS SLOWED THE APPROACHING LOW
PRESSURE SYSTEM DOWN A BIT WHICH WILL RESULT IN A SLIGHTLY LATER START
TO THE PRECIPITATION. MOST OF NORTH TEXAS...INCLUDING THE
METROPLEX... WILL PROBABLY NOT SEE ANY LIGHT SNOW UNTIL TUESDAY
AFTERNOON. TEMPERATURES TUESDAY WILL BE AT OR ABOVE FREEZING MOST
OF THE DAY. THEREFORE...TRAVEL IMPACTS WITH THIS SYSTEM SHOULD BE
MINIMAL AND THE LIGHT SNOWFALL AMOUNTS EXPECTED WILL BE CONFINED
MAINLY TO GRASSY AND ELEVATED SURFACES.

The THIRD time in one month that we saw snowflakes, I have been here 29 yrs, I think this is a first for Dallas-Ft Worth, TX, at least since 1980.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting Grothar:


Guess Awake won't be on for a few days!!!


I believe AIM and gamma both received a 48 hr ban.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
US Internet portals seem fine - few latency issues but nothing major.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Heck Snow for nearly a 7 day strech it appears is possible into the South....WOW
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Hey Drak...How you handling the cold weather? When you come back home, do you see some cold weather for our neck of the woods next week?


Geoff, Do you think we will have a freeze this far south. I may have to take in my amaryllis geflerkens. They can't take any kind of cold.
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Hello everyone........not been on for a while....
Looks like a big time change coming to the south with snow coming into Florida as far south as Tallahassee.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
There is no sabotage,.,..LOL


Just a server burp.

FOX news we aint
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Quoting Grothar:


Guess Awake won't be on for a few days!!!


Drag queens and guns do not mix.
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I ran a virus check on my pc...nothing there.
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Quoting Bordonaro:


Not sure, some think a server problem, outside sabotage/virus???


Guess Awake won't be on for a few days!!!
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Quoting Drakoen:


29 degrees in my current location in western West Virginia


Hey Drak...How you handling the cold weather? When you come back home, do you see some cold weather for our neck of the woods next week?
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Definitely a server issue. The whole site was down.
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Quoting Grothar:
Just able to get back on, what happened? I thought I had been banned for sarcasm?


Not sure, some think a server problem, outside sabotage/virus???
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Just able to get back on, what happened? I thought I had been banned for sarcasm?
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Quoting unf97:
Good evening!

Temp 39 degrees currently at my location in North Jax. Light NW breeze, clear skies.

Looks on target to be below freezing by daybreak tomorrow.


29 degrees in my current location in western West Virginia
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30595
00Z NAM RUN 24HR 850MB TEMP/6 HR PRECIP: Yeah, SNOW for Dallas-Ft Worth, TX :0)



Winter Comments and Graphics for MySpace, Tagged, Facebook
Comments and Graphics - Winter Layouts - Photobucket
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Bears 13 Vikings 0, Halftime
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
i also got a cert warning dangerous file detect before it shut down connection


I don't understand this one. Cert doesn't have virus software or such, do they?
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Went down again. It appears this is more than a server problem. If you have an anti-virus program on your pc...run it now.
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I was reading up on some space weather items. I thought some might find it interesting.

Interesting clickable descriptions on the storms. :)

May want to put this in your back pocket :)

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/




http://spaceweather.com/
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
i also got a cert warning dangerous file detect before it shut down connection


I just got the standard IE8 message, "cannot display webpage"!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
somethings going on lights on modem flickering a bit they never flicker surppose to be steady burn
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54770
i also got a cert warning dangerous file detect before it shut down connection
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54770
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
naw ya get use to it the worst is that wind once that calms down its not so bad looks just like normal except its cold


You guys plug in the car like I did in Minot? Freeze plug heater saved my poor Florida truck.
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Server problems or outside influences shutting down the blog.
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not sure things got a little goofy here had to reboot modem lost connection detected
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54770
204. unf97
Good evening!

Temp 39 degrees currently at my location in North Jax. Light NW breeze, clear skies.

Looks on target to be below freezing by daybreak tomorrow.
Member Since: September 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1193
Thanks Patrap, I was beginning to go the WU withdrawls!!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Spring cant come soon enough.
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Server service or clock drift..happens from time to time. The server is in San fran
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Does anyone have a clue what just happened?
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting severstorm:

darn that means i'll have to get out the shovel. there all in the ground. This wont be to bad lower than 25 its all over.


Read this link on taking care of your plants in a freeze:

Link
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
whoa that was a hard break
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Taz was right..something was going on.
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Quoting Bordonaro:


Tender plants, anything under 42F will have a negative effect on them. Bring in all your tender vegetation!

darn that means i'll have to get out the shovel. there all in the ground. This wont be to bad lower than 25 its all over.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting severstorm:
Bordonaro, Yes i think your right. I just got in from covering the better halfs plants. cant let them frost out.


Tender plants, anything under 42F will have a negative effect on them. Bring in all your tender vegetation!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
GeoWPB, enjoy your cold snap. IF the Polar Vortex dumps the "entire dome" of Siberian Air into the US, it may actually be alot colder..Models bring some of the extremely cold air in to the US. The GFS and ECWMF models disagree on how much cold air enters the US.

GFS sends less Arctic air, the EMCWF model has record breaking temps possible all over the Eastern 2/3 rds of the US.

Part of DFW, TX Area Forecast Discussion, from 2:37PM today, CST:

LONG TERM...
THE COLD PATTERN LOOKS TO CONTINUE AS RIDGING BUILDS
IN BEHIND THE FROPA ON FRIDAY AND COLD CANADIAN AIR APPROACHES
SUNDAY NIGHT. GFS/ECMWF CONTINUE TO BRING A POLAR VORTEX FROM
SIBERIA ACROSS THE NORTH POLE INTO CANADA. THIS VORTEX STRETCHES
AND ABSORBS THE HUDSON BAY VORTEX SENDING COLD AIR SOUTH INTO THE
CONUS AS A STRONG UPPER LOW DEVELOPS OVER THE EASTERN GREAT LAKES.

ASSOCIATED COLD FRONT IS EXPECTED TO MOVE THROUGH NORTH TEXAS
SUNDAY NIGHT. GFS CONTINUES TO KEEP THE COLDEST AIR TO OUR EAST
WHILE THE ECMWF ALLOWS THE TROUGH TO DIG THROUGH OUR AREA. AS A
RESULT HIGH TEMPERATURES VARY GREATLY BETWEEN THE TWO ON
MONDAY...WITH THE ECMWF HOLDING TEMPS IN THE 30S. MEX GUIDANCE IS
TOO WARM DUE TO CLIMATOLOGY BIAS AND CONFIDENCE IS STILL TOO LOW
TO CHOOSE ONE MODEL SOLUTION OVER THE OTHER. THEREFORE...WILL TRIM
TEMPS DOWN BUT WILL AVOID THE RECORD BREAKING COLD SUGGESTED BY
THE ECMWF AT THIS TIME.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Bordonaro, Yes i think your right. I just got in from covering the plants. cant let them frost out.
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Link

Speed Test
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
iam actually a newfoundlander from st johns oldest city in north america sailed the north atlantic with my grandfather from age 9 till 16 when not in school mostly in summer seen many a bad storm some i never want to see again iam a tranplant to ont here for the work and money taking care of the wife and my 9 year old son


Newfondland receives some extremely wicked, wild winter blizzards and an occasional Tropical Storm of dying Hurricane.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
10-day forecast...looking forward to Saturday, but I assure you no parka:)

Local Text Forecast for
Lake Worth, FL (33461)

Dec 28 Tonight
Mainly clear. Low 46F. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph.
Dec 29 Tomorrow
Mainly sunny. High 69F. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph.
Dec 29 Tomorrow night
A few clouds from time to time. Low 57F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph.
Dec 30 Wednesday
Considerable cloudiness. Highs in the mid 70s and lows in the mid 60s.
Dec 31 Thursday
Times of sun and clouds. Highs in the upper 70s and lows in the mid 60s.
Jan 1 Friday
Partly cloudy with a stray thunderstorm. Highs in the low 70s and lows in the upper 40s.
Jan 2 Saturday
A few clouds. Highs in the low 60s and lows in the low 40s.
Jan 3 Sunday
Mix of sun and clouds. Highs in the mid 60s and lows in the low 50s.
Jan 4 Monday
Mix of sun and clouds. Highs in the upper 60s and lows in the upper 50s.
Jan 5 Tuesday
Considerable cloudiness. Highs in the low 70s and lows in the upper 50s.
Jan 6 Wednesday
Times of sun and clouds. Highs in the low 70s and lows in the mid 60s.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting aquak9:
keeper...do people actually go outside, like going to the store, or going to the movies, in that sort of stuff?

or do ya'll just look out the window and say wow, that's absolutely horrifying out there.
naw ya get use to it the worst is that wind once that calms down its not so bad looks just like normal except its cold
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54770
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
some places may see as much as 25 cm or 12 inches but thats in the worst spots they come in bands right now we have some heavy flurries from time to time in my location with about 3 to 5 cm on the ground but the wind keeps blowing it away making look worst than it really is


Well, I knew for awhile that you were wondering where winter went :0). It's back, with a vengance. The WFO in San Francisco, CA said that this El Nino is unusual, like the one in 1976-77. That was the year when there was plenty of cold, Arctic air in the USA. The AO index was "off he charts" at -6, the AOI is negative the PNA is positive. All makes the perfect combination of Arctic air intrusions and wild, winter storms!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785

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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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