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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Quoting presslord:
I'm cold...somebody gimmee a hug...
ya may need a heavier coat longjohns maybe as well 82 days till first day of spring
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54623
Quoting auburn:


I have a green house you need girl...wish I could get it to you!!!


Well, dang, next time we git together, Aub!
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Quoting presslord:
I'm cold...somebody gimmee a hug...

Quoting aquak9:
sugarsand I know what you mean about bringing the plants in

my dau and TangoCat love it when everything comes inside, seems to make the indoors seem warmer and more tropical, doesn't it?

g'nite ya'll, go in peace, carry on


You, too Aqua! Press, you need a Snuggie, LOL!
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CAMP SPRINGS, MD
SHORT RANGE FORECAST DISCUSSION
[Abbreviations and acronyms used in this product]
Geographic boundaries: Map 1- [Color] [B/W Print Version] Map 2 - [Color] [B/W Print Version]


SHORT RANGE FORECAST DISCUSSION
NWS HYDROMETEOROLOGICAL PREDICTION CENTER CAMP SPRINGS MD
321 PM EST TUE DEC 29 2009

VALID 00Z WED DEC 30 2009 - 12Z THU DEC 31 2009

A DEVELOPING STORM OVER THE WESTERN GULF OF MEXICO WILL MOVE
NORTHEASTWARD TO THE SOUTHEAST/MID-ATLANTIC COAST BY THURSDAY.
THE SYSTEM WILL PULL MOISTURE NORTHWARD FROM GULF OF MEXICO
PRODUCING RAIN OVER THE WESTERN GULF COAST/LOWER MISSISSIPPI
VALLEY AND SNOW OVER NORTHERN SOUTHERN PLAINS/MIDDLE MISSISSIPPI
VALLEY BY WEDNESDAY MORNING. LIGHT TO MODERATE RAIN WILL DEVELOP
OVER THE CENTRAL GULF COAST INTO THE SOUTHEAST/SOUTHERN
MID-ATLANTIC WITH SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS CLOSER TO THE GULF
COAST BY THURSDAY. IN ADDITION ... A SMALL PATCH OF RAIN/FREEZING
RAIN WILL DEVELOP OVER SOUTHWESTERN VIRGINIA BY THURSDAY MORNING.

MEANWHILE ... A COLD FRONT MOVING SOUTHEASTWARD OUT OF WEST
CENTRAL CANADA WILL ADVANCE TO THE GREAT LAKES/SOUTHERN PLAINS BY
THURSDAY. THE BOUNDARY WILL INTERSECT THE MOISTURE FROM THE GULF
OF MEXICO ON WEDNESDAY PRODUCING SNOW FROM THE MIDDLE MISSISSIPPI
VALLEY/WESTERN OHIO VALLEY TO THE GREAT LAKES THROUGH THURSDAY.

OVER THE WEST COAST ... TWO PACIFIC SYSTEMS WILL MOVE ONSHORE
DURING THE NEXT TWO DAYS. THE FIRST STORM WILL MOVE ONSHORE BY
TUESDAY NIGHT AND DISSIPATE AS THE UPPER LEVEL ENERGY RUNS INTO
UPPER LEVEL RIDGING. THIS SYSTEM WILL PRODUCE COASTAL RAIN AND
INLAND SNOW FROM CENTRAL/NORTHERN CALIFORNIA TO THE PACIFIC
NORTHWEST AND EASTWARD TO PARTS OF THE GREAT BASIN BY WEDNESDAY.
THE COASTAL RAIN AND SNOW WILL TAPER OFF OVER CALIFORNIA BY
WEDNESDAY EVENING ... WHILE CONTINUING OVER THE NORTHWEST INTO
PARTS OF THE CENTRAL ROCKIES. THE SECOND SYSTEM WILL APPROACH THE
WEST COAST BY THURSDAY MORNING AS THE RAIN AND INLAND SNOW PICKS
UP OVER NORTHERN CALIFORNIA AND SNOW CONTINUES OVER PARTS OF THE
NORTHERN INTERMOUNTAIN REGION.

ZIEGENFELDER

GRAPHICS AVAILABLE AT WWW.HPC.NCEP.NOAA.GOV


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hi sugarsand...thinking gas is more eco-friendly and for me ergonomic due to arthritis.
i cannot afford anything at present, just wondering.
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633. auburn (Mod)
Quoting sugarsand:
Sugarsand- sorry, you're gonna see freezing temps. :(

Yep, I start the plant migration tomorrow. A makeshift greenhouse in my garage with plant lights on hubby's workbench. The rest of them scattered indoors....looks like a jungle inside the house. Dogs love it.


I have a green house you need girl...wish I could get it to you!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
sugarsand I know what you mean about bringing the plants in

my dau and TangoCat love it when everything comes inside, seems to make the indoors seem warmer and more tropical, doesn't it?

g'nite ya'll, go in peace, carry on
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 169 Comments: 26125
oh well.. time to skin the cat and the lab..it might get cold here,, i think it grows back,, from . what the oldtimers say,,
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Hey Aub, we converted our wood fireplace to gas logs. Now, all the heat doesn't go up the flue. It is much cleaner, for sure. Our gas bill is not that bad either, esp. since we had to buy the wood before. No "trees" in Destin!
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GOM IR Loop

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Quoting presslord:
I'm cold...somebody gimmee a hug...

HUG! And now back to slurping my warm turkey soup...goodnight everyone. Don't drive unless you have to!
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I'm cold...somebody gimmee a hug...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Regional Radar,Snow in Texas
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Sugarsand- sorry, you're gonna see freezing temps. :(

Yep, I start the plant migration tomorrow. A makeshift greenhouse in my garage with plant lights on hubby's workbench. The rest of them scattered indoors....looks like a jungle inside the house. Dogs love it.
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624. auburn (Mod)
Quoting Chicklit:
Interesting and tragic story of lost flight over Phillipines.
My father was a radio operator for 47 missions in a B-50 during WW2. lucky for me he was very lucky!
His plane was also called The Lucky Strike.
From old pics I think I recall a picture of a Barbara Stanwyke type painted on the nose.
Don't think weather planes do that though.
I hope you are all still in the holiday spirit. Got to go check the turkey soup!
Wish I had a fireplace, though.
Is a gas or wood burning fireplace better?


you will get more heat from wood and it cheaper...but its also more work and its dirty...and not a safe...I have a wood heater and I love it...
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Black ice is a very generic term typically used to describe slippery road conditions. Black ice, sometimes called "glare ice" or "clear ice", typically refers to a thin coating of glazed ice on a roadway. While not truly black, it is transparent, allowing the usually-black asphalt/macadam roadway to be seen through it, hence the term. It is unusually slick compared to other forms of roadway ice, and is a factor in some car accidents
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54623
Quoting AstroHurricane001:
Last night, temperatures hit a low of -16.9C (1.6F) at my location. Ice formed on the inside of the windows after the foggy windows froze over. Snowsqualls last night were rather intense, but at some points the gibbous moon (which, by the way, is full on New Years' Eve) was visible through the fast-moving clouds, but they left only about 1 or 2 inches on the ground. It was also extremely windy, but tonight it's more calm.

Here in Canada, we use ice scrapers, not credit cards when ice builds up on cars. Earlier, near the beginning of December, we had three consecutive mornings of black ice. On the second day, I saw a pickup truck in a parking lot "hydroplane" on the ice, spinning in full circles halfway accross the parking lot, but fortunately it did not crash into anything.

I was going to write a question for WunderBlogAdmin yesterday, but I ended up going on a different website. That reminds me, my modem was also having problems, as I heard a popping sound as if a fuse had broken.
Please describe for me ( Black Ice).
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astro, you really amaze me sometimes.

You covered credit cards, a gibbous moon, a swirling truck, and modem fireworks all in one post.

GFS/ECMWF agreement isn't the only thing that confuses me sometimes...

Sugarsand- sorry, you're gonna see freezing temps. :(
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 169 Comments: 26125
Last night, temperatures hit a low of -16.9C (1.6F) at my location. Ice formed on the inside of the windows after the foggy windows froze over. Snowsqualls last night were rather intense, but at some points the gibbous moon (which, by the way, is full on New Years' Eve) was visible through the fast-moving clouds, but they left only about 1 or 2 inches on the ground. It was also extremely windy, but tonight it's more calm.

Here in Canada, we use ice scrapers, not credit cards when ice builds up on cars. Earlier, near the beginning of December, we had three consecutive mornings of black ice. On the second day, I saw a pickup truck in a parking lot "hydroplane" on the ice, spinning in full circles halfway accross the parking lot, but fortunately it did not crash into anything.

I was going to write a question for WunderBlogAdmin yesterday, but I ended up going on a different website. That reminds me, my modem was also having problems, as I heard a popping sound as if a fuse had broken.
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Quoting aquak9:


if the GFS and ECMWF agree on ANYTHING this year, I'm gonna be very confused, too!


LOL, no kidding. I remember watching them during hurri season thinking "HUH?".
All I know is I do not want sub freezing temps, NO NO NO.
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Quoting sugarsand:
So, are the GFS and ECMWF in agreement with the arctic air track...I'm confused.


if the GFS and ECMWF agree on ANYTHING this year, I'm gonna be very confused, too!
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 169 Comments: 26125
portlight blog: http://www.wunderground.com/blog/Portlight/comment.html?entrynum=26
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
So, are the GFS and ECMWF in agreement with the arctic air track...I'm confused.
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Ally would you tell K9 to stop picking on me...LOL

but Auburn...you're like a nose, just so pickable!
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 169 Comments: 26125
Interesting and tragic story of lost flight over Phillipines.
My father was a radio operator for 47 missions in a B-50 during WW2. lucky for me he was very lucky!
His plane was also called The Lucky Strike.
From old pics I think I recall a picture of a Barbara Stanwyke type painted on the nose.
Don't think weather planes do that though.
I hope you are all still in the holiday spirit. Got to go check the turkey soup!
Wish I had a fireplace, though.
Is a gas or wood burning fireplace better?
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Drak-

What date is that for?
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Quoting Drakoen:
ECMWF 12z has 850mb temps of -2C over South Florida:



28 Degrees F
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609. unf97
Good evening everyone!
Member Since: September 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1193
ECMWF 12z has 850mb temps of -2C over South Florida:

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607. auburn (Mod)
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
its gonna get cold all the way too s cen fla with highs in the 60's as far south as cancun eastward towards nw cuba bahamas along northern side of hati/dom/PR


Thanks Keep!!!...Ally would you tell K9 to stop picking on me...LOL
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Quoting auburn:


look at all the pretty colors...Ummm what does it mean????
its gonna get cold all the way too s cen fla with highs in the 60's as far south as cancun eastward towards nw cuba bahamas along northern side of hati/dom/PR
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54623
Quoting aquak9:
auburn's posting weather links.

Probably gonna snow like the dickens in Miami now.


ROFLMBO!..
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604. chawk
I hope this years winter pattern does not compare to 1899,
Wikapedia,On February 12, snow started falling from Fort Myers and Tampa in Florida west towards New Orleans. Blizzard conditions were reported north of Tampa along the west coast of Florida due to ocean-effect snow. The storm crossed the Florida peninsula and intensified as it rapidly moved up the Eastern United States. High Point, North Carolina recorded 10-12" (25-30 cm) of snow, and temperatures as low as 10 °F (−12 °C) on the 11th, 5 °F (−15 °C) on the 13th, and 3 °F (−16 °C) on the 14th. It was said to be the coldest weather known to the oldest inhabitants. Washington, D.C. recorded its all-time record single snowfall of 20.5 inches (52 cm), though it was later broken. Cape May, New Jersey recorded 34 inches (86 cm), which is the highest single storm snowfall total ever in New Jersey, in what is normally the least-snowy part of the state.

The port of New Orleans, Louisiana was completely iced-over by February 13, with ice floes reportedly floating out of the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico.

On February 14, the low temperature in Miami, Florida was 29 °F (−2 °C), the second-coldest (and the first sub-freezing) temperature that the city has ever recorded.

North of the Mid-Atlantic region, the storm weakened somewhat, but it was still a very powerful blizzard. New York's Central Park recorded 16 inches (41 cm), which at the time was its third-biggest snowfall, but many surrounding areas recorded 2-3 feet (60 to 90 cm), as did most of New England.

There are even Cuban reports (made by the U.S. Weather Bureau, as Cuba was a U.S. territory at the time) that the country experienced hard frost which killed or damaged many crops. This was despite the cold air first having to cross the Florida Strait and its warm Gulf Stream waters. The blizzard of 1899 is referred to as "The Snow King".

The only other cold wave of such severity in the Southeast was the 1985 Florida freeze, which destroyed the citrus groves in central Florida, and forced the industry into south Florida. The only other blizzard to strike the Southeast was the Great Blizzard of 1993.

[edit] References
Kocin, Paul J.; Weiss, Alan D.; Wagner, Joseph J. (1988), "The Great Arctic Outbreak and East Coast Blizzard of February 1899", Weather and Forecasting 3 (4): 305–318, doi:10.1175/1520-0434(1988)0032.0.CO;2
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603. beell
My .02's to add to the 540 thickness thread.

The 1,000mb-500mb thickness chart is the approximate thickness of the layer of atmosphere from the 1,00mb level (surface) to the 500mb level. 540 represents a thickness of 5,400 meters between the two levels.

Warm air occupies more volume than cold air and has a higher 1000-500mb thickness. In addition to using this parameter as a rough guess of the rain/snow demarcation, it also offers a very quick look at direction and intensity of cold or warm air advection. The lower the thickness, the colder the air. Adjacent thickness lines packed close together would generally indicate a sharp and or rapid transition. Farther spacing-a slower change. If you look close,you may see a hint or two of some gentle warm air moving N from Mexico toward Wyoming.

Fairly easy to see the cold air diving down from the north on this sample from today's 18Z GFS (Valid Thur after next). The axis/center of the cold air is indicated by the blue arrow.

Photobucket
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602. auburn (Mod)
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
here is a zoom in on fla and area



look at all the pretty colors...Ummm what does it mean????
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here is a zoom in on fla and area

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54623
That just looks like a psychadelic trip...
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keeper, you'e gonna slow down the high sleep internet with posts like that... :)
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 169 Comments: 26125
north pole view
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X
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54623
auburn's posting weather links.

Probably gonna snow like the dickens in Miami now.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 169 Comments: 26125
595. auburn (Mod)
this Model any good??http://www.nws.noaa.gov/mdl/forecast/graphics/MEX/index.html
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7 deg. with 18mph winds, gust to 30mph in Dover NH. I'll be glad when this wind finally goes away.
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Morehead City:

.LONG TERM /FRIDAY NIGHT THROUGH TUESDAY/...
-- Changed Discussion --
DRY WEATHER EXPECTED THROUGH THE LONG TERM HOWEVER TEMPS MUCH
BELOW NORMAL WILL PREVAIL AS COLD HIGH PRES BUILDS SE FROM CANADA.
LOW LEVEL THICKNESSES AROUND 1270M (AND EVEN LOWER FOR NORTHERN
COUNTIES) WILL BRING THE COLDEST AIRMASS OF THE SEASON. TEMPS WILL
STRUGGLE TO REACH 40 EACH DAY AND MANY LOCATIONS WILL LIKELY
REMAIN IN THE 30S. MIN TEMPS EXPECTED IN THE L/M20S AWAY FROM THE
COAST TO AROUND 30 COASTAL SECTIONS. PREVIOUS VERSIONS OF THE ECMWF
SUGGESTED ANOTHER SFC LOW WOULD PULL OFF THE SE COAST EARLY TO MID
NEXT WEEK AND PSBLY BRING SOME PCPN TO THE REGION...BUT TODAYS 12Z
RUN HAS BACKED OFF AND THE GFS REMAINS DRY WITH HIGH PRES DOMINATING
THE AREA. HAVE THUS KEPT THE FORECAST DRY THROUGH THE PERIOD.
-- End Changed Discussion --

Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1455
Quoting mara0921:
Thanks Drakoen.. I figured it was something like that but wasnt sure.. Being a Miami native just the possibility of snow/freeze gets us all so excited. My whole office has been glued to this blog all day
Miami native too, born Mt. Sinai Hosp.
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Quoting aquak9:
Yeah tho I walk in the shadow of a new format, I shall fear no clicking....

For I'm a zealot by proxy, and I knew this was coming.

And it's NOT gonna snow in Jacksonville.

(tempting fate, tempting fate)
For the weather blog provideth a fortified tower in the face of the trolls. Admin is the defender of thy blogeth. Amen:)
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Yeah tho I walk in the shadow of a new format, I shall fear no clicking....

For I'm a zealot by proxy, and I knew this was coming.

And it's NOT gonna snow in Jacksonville.

(tempting fate, tempting fate)
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 169 Comments: 26125
Quoting TampaFLUSA:
The runs have been off by ten degrees each run. 10 degrees can make a big difference in Fl.


Most don't pay attention to the 18z GFS
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Quoting mara0921:
Thanks Drakoen.. I figured it was something like that but wasnt sure.. Being a Miami native just the possibility of snow/freeze gets us all so excited. My whole office has been glued to this blog all day


Another thing is that even if the thickness is 540 or lower on the 100mb-500mb thickness, you still need to check the other thickness levels to make sure they are at or below freezing for snow precipitation. If there is warm air aloft then precip could be sleet.
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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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