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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538. IKE
6-10 day precip outlook....snow for the gulf coast?



8-14 day precip outlook....more snow?

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Im kinda in da aqua blue seems ike..or is that Blue moon Blue?
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536. IKE
Dec. 29th....6-10 day temp outlook....




8-14 day temp outlook....

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535. IKE
Quoting StormChaser81:


Thats how Real Men Live, take showers using ice cubes. LOL =)


LOL...I'm a wuss. I admit it....
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Quoting StormChaser81:


Thats how Real Men Live, take showers using ice cubes. LOL =)
Thats how the Eskimo do it, while they munch down seal fat ice cream.
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533. auburn (Mod)
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Quoting IKE:


WTH? No heat all fall and winter? 4 degrees for a low:(

45 in your house? Uh...no..not me.


Thats how Real Men Live, take showers using ice cubes. LOL =)
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530. IKE
Quoting Unfriendly:
A little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperature 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!

larryvillega; 62 if its less than 50 outside, otherwise off

47n91w: 58 at night and when I'm at work, 65 when I'm home. 65 is nice and toasty when it's -20f outside ;)

Unfriendly: Me and my fiance haven't used the thermostats yet, despite living in Frostburg, MD, elevation 2050 ft., and and average of 100 inches of snow a year. Can see your breath in my house at night... we put on sweaters. I'd say its only about 45 in the mornings in the living room, about 50-55 in the bedroom (body heat, I'm like an electric blanket). It's been as low as 4 degrees this year.


WTH? No heat all fall and winter? 4 degrees for a low:(

45 in your house? Uh...no..not me.
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529. xcool
hmmm
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Quoting bappit:
I would hope something similar happens with other browsers?


Works the same on IE.
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Well the light rain in Dallas-Ft Worth, TX is finally changing to snow! It's just very unusual to see snowflakes fall in DFW, TX 3X in one month :0)!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
#510 and whoever else -- if you want to know where an image came from and have Firefox, you can right click the image and select Properties off the menu that pops up. The URL is displayed there and you can cut and paste that into the address box on the browser.

At least that's on Firefox. I would hope something similar happens with other browsers?
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Quoting Floodman:


Now THAT'S a cold outbreak
Good to see ya postin Floodmain, Hope your back is good.
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US HAZARDS ASSESSMENT



SYNOPSIS: AN ACTIVE WEATHER PATTERN IS EXPECTED FOR THIS ASSESSMENT PERIOD. A LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM IS PREDICTED TO RAPIDLY INTENSIFY OFF THE NEW ENGLAND COAST DURING THE FIRST FEW DAYS OF THE PERIOD. ARCTIC HIGH PRESSURE IS THEN EXPECTED TO DIVE SOUTHWARD AND EASTWARD OUT OF CANADA ACROSS THE EASTERN TWO-THIRDS OF THE CONUS. SEVERAL DAYS LATER, ANOTHER AREA OF LOW PRESSURE IS FORECAST TO MOVE EASTWARD ACROSS THE GULF COAST STATES AND SOUTHEAST, BRINGING ADDITIONAL PRECIPITATION TO THE REGION. RELATIVELY COLD, DRY CONDITIONS ARE ANTICIPATED IN ALASKA UNTIL THE MIDDLE OF THE ASSESSMENT PERIOD, AT WHICH TIME A BROAD LOW PRESSURE AREA IS FORECAST TO APPROACH THE ALEUTIANS FROM THE SOUTH.

HAZARDS

MUCH BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR MUCH OF THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN CONUS, JAN 1-5.

HEAVY SNOW (RAIN TO SNOW ALONG IMMEDIATE COAST) FOR NEW ENGLAND, JAN 1-2.

HEAVY RAIN AND SNOW FOR WESTERN WASHINGTON AND NORTHWESTERN OREGON, JAN 1-2.

STRONG WINDS FOR THE NORTHEAST, MID-ATLANTIC, AND GREAT LAKES, JAN 2-3.

HEAVY LAKE-ENHANCED SNOW FOR THE GREAT LAKES, JAN 2-3.

ONGOING FLOODING FOR PARTS OF GEORGIA AND SOUTH CAROLINA.

ONGOING FLOODING FOR PORTIONS OF THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI VALLEY.

SEVERE DROUGHT IN PARTS OF WISCONSIN, TEXAS, AND AREAS IN THE WESTERN US, WITH SOME IMPROVEMENT IN WISCONSIN AND EASTERN WASHINGTON STATE.
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Quoting BobinTampa:


I once left Rapid City, SD with a -20 wind chill. When I got home to Florida, it was 80 degrees. Nice 100 degree turnaround in about 8 hours.
I think that would feel good! :)
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A little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperature 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!

larryvillega; 62 if its less than 50 outside, otherwise off

47n91w: 58 at night and when I'm at work, 65 when I'm home. 65 is nice and toasty when it's -20f outside ;)

Unfriendly: Me and my fiance haven't used the thermostats yet, despite living in Frostburg, MD, elevation 2050 ft., and and average of 100 inches of snow a year. Can see your breath in my house at night... we put on sweaters. I'd say its only about 45 in the mornings in the living room, about 50-55 in the bedroom (body heat, I'm like an electric blanket). It's been as low as 4 degrees this year.
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Quoting presslord:
#507....that is NOT a pretty picture...


Thats just showing what kind of precipitation you would have SHOULD there be enough moisture. I dont think the entire area in blue is going to see snow that day
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Thats not that cold.
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519. jipmg
Quoting Floodman:


Now THAT'S a cold outbreak


really? 52 in miami? Those are lows.. not highs, that really isn't that cold compared to other major outbreaks.
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
HPC minimum temps for 01/05/2010.




Now THAT'S a cold outbreak
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
HPC minimum temps for 01/05/2010.


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#507....that is NOT a pretty picture...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
515. IKE
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


That is IF you have any type of weather, could just be an overcast day.


:(
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514. auburn (Mod)
Ummm so you guys are saying its gonna get COLD here in Alabama?passable snow?when...next week???
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Quoting IKE:


WOOHOO!


That is IF you have any type of weather, could just be an overcast day.
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512. IKE
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


HPC has you in the mixture zone between rain, snow and freezing rain on that day.



WOOHOO!
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Quoting reedzone:


Where'd you get that? link?



HPC's Day 4-7 Gridded Forecasts
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


HPC has you in the mixture zone between rain, snow and freezing rain on that day.



Where'd you get that? link?
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7340
Quoting IKE:
HPC day 6(next Monday), still shows a low south of the Florida panhandle...cold air to the north....



HPC has you in the mixture zone between rain, snow and freezing rain on that day.

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If these temps verify, there will be allot of damage here. Strawberries are being planted and we also have lots of palms that could die from the cold. In '89 my parents lost half our palms and there were dead trees all around central fl.
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Quoting BobinTampa:


I once left Rapid City, SD with a -20 wind chill. When I got home to Florida, it was 80 degrees. Nice 100 degree turnaround in about 8 hours.


Winter of 1964, my husband and I were working at Argonne National Laboratory in LeMont, IL (near Chicago). For 10 days the temp did not get above 0*F. In the mornings we had to walk from the parking lot into 20 mph winds with temps less than -20. Then the cold broke and by lunchtime of the 11th day the temp was up to 17! People were strolling outside with coats open and no hats. It felt like spring! (Don't hold me to exact details - this account is based on memory, not written records but it's pretty close to what happened.)
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503. jipmg
TWC is forecasting mid 70s, and low 70s for SFL by the time that airmass hits lol
Thanx fer whooping da Vikings, Chicago...

Home sweet Dome fer the Playoffs..

U betcha..LOL
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501. IKE
HPC day 6(next Monday), still shows a low south of the Florida panhandle...cold air to the north....

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Quoting hydrus:
Thats the cold temp I have ever felt -2. But no wind, that was the actual temp. Being from Florida it made me respect the cold a lot more.


I once left Rapid City, SD with a -20 wind chill. When I got home to Florida, it was 80 degrees. Nice 100 degree turnaround in about 8 hours.
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 527
499. IKE
Quoting 47n91w:
A little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperature 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!

larryvillega; 62 if its less than 50 outside, otherwise off

47n91w: 58 at night and when I'm at work, 65 when I'm home. 65 is nice and toasty when it's -20f outside ;)


Keep mine set at 77 degrees. It cuts on when the temp gets 3 degrees below that in the winter. Cuts off when it reaches 77 again.
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498. auburn (Mod)
Quoting 47n91w:
A little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperature 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!

larryvillega; 62 if its less than 50 outside, otherwise off

47n91w: 58 at night and when I'm at work, 65 when I'm home. 65 is nice and toasty when it's -20f outside ;)


What ever the wood burner decides is what my house temp is...LOL
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Quoting shoreacres:


The new "world view" section in the photos is great!


That is nice, thanks for pointing it out!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
A little question for everyone and please cut an paste so this continues......But, what temperature 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!

larryvillega; 62 if its less than 50 outside, otherwise off

47n91w: 58 at night and when I'm at work, 65 when I'm home. 65 is nice and toasty when it's -20f outside ;)
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Last night I was showing folks how much more there is to the wunderground by posting the wiki page,and the Michigan Site that spun off the wunderground.

Welcome to the 2010 New Look.


Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet...............
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I've lurked in this blog during the offseason for a few years now. And I don't recall it ever being so active. And I can't remember ever seeing so much discussion about the cold and snow. Now it seems the words SNOW and FLORIDA are thrown about frequently.

1) For the first time in the 6 years I've lived here in FL I think I need to go out and buy a coat this weekend!

2) I think I'll throw out the idea of an office pool WILL IT SNOW THIS WINTER IN FL? I figure if I bet YES and it doesn't I'll lose a buck.. But since I think most of my co-workers will say NO, the potential is there!!
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
I see we can now have "favorite blogs". Anyone notice any other new features with this recent upgrade?


The new "world view" section in the photos is great!
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Quoting IKE:
I see a new format on the links up top.

It was time for a change.

Nice looking.

12Z ECMWF...


Still showing a cold outbreak, thanks IKE.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7340
Quoting NEwxguy:
Don't know about predictions for a cold outbreak,but I'm sitting at a -2 windchill.
Thats the cold temp I have ever felt -2. But no wind, that was the actual temp. Being from Florida it made me respect the cold a lot more.
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Don't know about predictions for a cold outbreak,but I'm sitting at a -2 windchill.
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Quoting jeffs713:
Does anyone else find it amusing how many people get all kinds of anxious over the GFS model 7-15 days out, when it forecasts some kind of crazy cold outbreak? And then when it changes its forecast (as it always does), many people just start looking further out to the next hyperblizzard that is 384hr out?
Hyperblizzard?????Yeah..there going to put up hyperblizzard warnings..with 150 ft snowdrifts and 160 mph winds, wind chill factor --300 degrees, cross country skiing in the Everglades and ice skating on Lake O. I can dig it. So much for Global Warming.jk..really jk.
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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.