Polish president dies in plane crash during heavy fog

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:06 PM GMT on April 10, 2010

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Always obey your air traffic controllers. That's the cardinal rule of of aviation, and one apparently violated by the pilot of the aircraft carrying the Polish president and dozens of the country's top political and military leaders, which crashed in heavy fog this morning near Smolensk, Russia. All 96 people aboard perished. According to the New York Times, air traffic controllers had recommended the president's jet land in nearby Minsk because of bad visibility, but the crew decided to land anyway. The Polish news channel TVN24 reported that moments before the crash, air traffic controllers had refused a Russian military aircraft permission to land, but that they could not refuse permission to the Polish plane. Russian media reported that the airplane's crew made several attempts to land before a wing hit the treetops and the plane crashed about half a mile from the runway.


Figure 1. a large patch of fog covers the Russian city of Smolensk and regions to the east in this visible light image captured by NASA's Terra satellite between 08:00 - 11:15 UTC Saturday, April 10, 2010. Image credit: NASA MODIS Rapid Response System, visualized using Google Earth.

At 10 am local time, near the time of the crash, the Smolensk airport reported heavy fog with visibility 0.5 km (3/10 of a mile). As seen in the satellite image taken near this time (Figure 1), a large bank of fog covered Smolensk and neighboring regions of Russia and Belarus.

Jeff Masters

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228. Skyepony (Mod)
NITEROI, Brazil (AFP) - Rescuers have been racing against time amid fading hopes of finding survivors of a huge mudslide, with over 400 people now feared dead in some of the worst flooding to swamp Brazil in decades.

Rescuers painstakingly pulled bodies from the thick mound of dirt and debris in the Niteroi shantytown of Morro do Bumba late Friday and Saturday, bringing the death toll to 223.

Another 200 people were feared to have been buried alive in the slum, itself precariously perched atop a garbage dump in this city just east of Rio de Janeiro.

Some 60 hours after the heaviest rains in half a century unleashed floods and mudslides, rescue workers still were far from having finished the work of recovering bodies from beneath tonnes of rocks, rubble and earth.

The floods tore through the metropolitan area's precarious hillside slums, or favelas.

Niteroi was hardest hit, with at least 141 dead, according to the civil defense authorities. Across the bay, another 63 were found in Rio de Janeiro.

The heavy rain forced some 5 0,000 people to leave their homes, officials said, either because their homes were damaged or because they were ordered to leave due to fear of fresh landslides.

Geologist Marcelo Motta, who participated in an investigation of the mudslide, told Globo News television that two cracks in the rocky soil made the mound move and pushed down the hill a huge amount of trash saturated with water that had trapped methane gas. MORE....
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37829
Quoting Levi32:


It's a strong peak marking the demise of the El Nino beginning in earnest now. The SOI is about to tank again into the negative, but not as low as before. It tends to go through its trends in a series of ups and downs.
Quoting alexhurricane1991:
Cyberteddy also the soi index is +1.3 so yeah when el nino falls it's going to drop.


Not for a bit of time though.
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There was a symbolic reason for landing at Katyn. That's why the pilot landed in that fog.
There's a name for that.
It's in my public administration organization vocabulary which is inside the notebooks I'd better start studying for a final exam in two weeks.
Challenger redux.
Link
Something other than reason going on there.
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Cyberteddy also the soi index is +1.3 so yeah when el nino falls it's going to drop.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Please REad my Blog! Tragedy has struck our family this evening. I just don't want to hear of another as this could save your life or a loved one!
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Having lived in Rio de Janeiro during the '70's, I can attest to the fury and dangers of tropical downpours falling on the nude granite domes around the city. Once, while driving from Ipanema to Sao Conrado along the coast in a downpour, I was almost hit by a large boulder washed from the bare granite slopes. WOW !!!!
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222. xcool
bye byeEl Nino
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Looks like the El Nino will be sticking around longer than expected.

Still not dropping at all



I find this very interesting, as the ENSO still continues to show Neutral in a few weeks. I think its pretty likely we'll see a substantial dropoff in El Nino very soon, because years its gotten the El Nino / La Nina generally right in terms of whether or not its going to be an El Nino or a La Nina year.
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Quoting alexhurricane1991:
Hey presslord these people on the schooner are real heroes and hopefully they will have a smooth ride to give food to the haitians lord knows they need it. is it just food or is it other things for hygiene or blankets and such?



several thousand pounds of other supplies...mostly medical related stuff...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
Hey presslord these people on the schooner are real heroes and hopefully they will have a smooth ride to give food to the haitians lord knows they need it. is it just food or is it other things for hygiene or blankets and such?
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Schooner Halie and Mathew Haiti Food Voyage Tracking Map
Link
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
Having cleared Spanish Wells in the Bahamas to port, the schooner Halie & Matthew is well on her way to Haiti. The crew is well. They were becalmed until about 2pm today, and used the time to clean the boat, and go for a swim. With the wind filling in, they are happy to be sailing once again.

Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


is it typical for radar stations to survive whole hurricanes?


I don't know how typical it is for radars to survive. Off the top of my head I can think of 2 that didn't survive. Rita knocked out the Lake Charles radar when she went over it. But they were able to get it back on line after she had moved away some. And probably no surprise Andrew destroyed the radar I'm assuming out of Miami.
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215. JRRP
el Niņo 1998
the animation of hotspots during el Niņo
1/3/98-6/6/98

look that el Niņo said bye quickly in may
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


is it typical for radar stations to survive whole hurricanes?


I am not sure how to answer that except perhaps that I have landfall radar loops of quite a few hurricanes and cannot recall any stations dropping of line. Pat has me hooked on relative velocity, so I've started saving them also
Member Since: September 23, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 2541
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't just fog that downed the airplane. Given Russia's past actions and Russia's present leadership. It just seems too perfect for Russia's interest, (keeping nearby countries divided and weak) and it happened over Russian territory. Anyway, that's all I'm gonna say about that.



My mind started wandering down this path too when I first read the news this morning. Always fun to play war games in your head over the first cup of coffee :) Never know where you might end up...
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212. JRRP
Quoting troy1993:
In Hurricane Wilma..many people stated that the backside of Wilma was much worse than the frontside..does anyone have an explanation for this?

the movement of the cyclones normally are from east to west that is why the strongest winds are in the east side, on the other hand when willma moved from west ocurrs the opposite
i think
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Looks like the El Nino will be sticking around longer than expected.

Still not dropping at all

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Quoting indianrivguy:


The picture Levi posted tells the story, here's a radar loop I have saved,



is it typical for radar stations to survive whole hurricanes?
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6494
Thanks levi so in upcoming seasons i will be looking at that more in depth than before i heard about it but didnt really know what the significance of it was.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting alexhurricane1991:
Oh sorry levi im trying to learn.


No need to be sorry, I'm just helping to clarify things.
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Quoting troy1993:
In Hurricane Wilma..many people stated that the backside of Wilma was much worse than the frontside..does anyone have an explanation for this?


The picture Levi posted tells the story, here's a radar loop I have saved,

Member Since: September 23, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 2541
Quoting alexhurricane1991:
Tropicsweatherpr or levi whats the soi index and whats it's significance?


It's an oscillation in the difference of sea-level pressures between Tahiti and Darwin. It is a good atmospheric indicator of what the ENSO is doing, and how the atmosphere is behaving over the equatorial pacific.

An El Nino features negative values of the SOI, which means pressures are lower around Tahiti in the central-eastern Pacific, and pressures are higher near Darwin in Australia and the western Pacific.
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Oh sorry levi im trying to learn.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting altesticstorm10:
Can anyone post the latest NAO+NAO prediction graph? I'm pretty sure the cooling over the last 4 days has resulted from the positive NAO that has existed over the past several days.

Unfortunately the NAO was expected to plummet starting today and should be negative by Monday; it was expected to remain well below the "neutral" line for a few weeks after that and remain negative possibly until the end of the month, and it is too early to predict but it may stay negative to and through the hurricane season.

With this impending NAO negative burst, we will see the Caribbean and MDR reach even higher highs than before, the Bahamas region/Florida Straits will heat up, and the Gulf will heat up to normal. With the NAO becoming negative once again the Gulf as well as everything else will explode.


That's one of the reasons I asked about getting stuck in a pattern. I have been hearing about the potentially negative NAO coming up. And like Keeper's graphics showing a ridge over the eastern U.S. Not a pattern we would want to get stuck in.
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Quoting gordydunnot:
Big Bermuda high kicking in not a good sign. Haven't seen that in a few years, hope it weakens before season gets going. Hopefully God will bless the Haitians this year. Tim very sorry to here about your immediate family, I hope they come up with some last minute help or answers. Its just hard to believe I have never heard of such a thing.
Quoting alexhurricane1991:
Gordydunnot that bermuda high is strong hopefully it weakens and we get fish storms galore like 1995 except no opal.


The Bermuda High is not strong right now. It's still weaker than normal. The NAO is positive because of a strong Icelandic Low during the past week, but pressures are still low across most of the Atlantic and the A/B High is certainly not stronger than normal.

MSLP Anomalies for the last 30 days:



MSLP Anomalies for the last 7 days:

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elnino needs to hold on its got to
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Levi,what do you think about the +1.3 30 day SOI index?


I'm not Levi but I have to say El Nino's days are numbered considering the way the SOI has been rising.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Levi,what do you think about the +1.3 30 day SOI index?


It's a strong peak marking the demise of the El Nino beginning in earnest now. The SOI is about to tank again into the negative, but not as low as before. It tends to go through its trends in a series of ups and downs.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting altesticstorm10:
Can anyone post the latest NAO+NAO prediction graph? I'm pretty sure the cooling over the last 4 days has resulted from the positive NAO that has existed over the past several days.

Unfortunately the NAO was expected to plummet starting today and should be negative by Monday; it was expected to remain well below the "neutral" line for a few weeks after that and remain negative possibly until the end of the month, and it is too early to predict but it may stay negative to and through the hurricane season.

With this impending NAO negative burst, we will see the Caribbean and MDR reach even higher highs than before, the Bahamas region/Florida Straits will heat up, and the Gulf will heat up to normal. With the NAO becoming negative once again the Gulf as well as everything else will explode.


If you read the previous posts the SST map from the AOML site is suspect.
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Just wondering
With all the Honchos aboard was the pilot under some unusual pressure?
I'm imagining he/she might have been "ordered" to land
There.
Bad decision obviously - maybe we will never know
I'll be in that general region next week - I hope the planes I'm on have no eminent military or politicos aboard
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Levi,what do you think about the +1.3 30 day SOI index?
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14255
Gordydunnot that bermuda high is strong hopefully it weakens and we get fish storms galore like 1995 except no opal.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting altesticstorm10:
Can anyone post the latest NAO NAO prediction graph? I'm pretty sure the cooling over the last 4 days has resulted from the positive NAO that has existed over the past several days.

Unfortunately the NAO was expected to plummet starting today and should be negative by Monday; it was expected to remain well below the "neutral" line for a few weeks after that and remain negative possibly until the end of the month, and it is too early to predict but it may stay negative to and through the hurricane season.

With this impending NAO negative burst, we will see the Caribbean and MDR reach even higher highs than before, the Bahamas region/Florida Straits will heat up, and the Gulf will heat up to normal. With the NAO becoming negative once again the Gulf as well as everything else will explode.

Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
.
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Big Bermuda high kicking in not a good sign. Haven't seen that in a few years, hope it weakens before season gets going. Hopefully God will bless the Haitians this year. Tim very sorry to here about your immediate family, I hope they come up with some last minute help or answers. Its just hard to believe I have never heard of such a thing.
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3113
Quoting Karlo:
Excuse me, but your beginning sentence, "always obey your air traffic controllers. That's the cardinal rule of of aviation"

Is incorrect. The pilot ALWAYS has ultimate authority on how to fly the craft and whether to accept ATC directions. I'm not defending this particular pilot who SEEMS to have been badly operating his plane but we do not yet know precisely what actually happened. I think you should stick to meteorology...a few rides in a hurricane hunter does not in my opinion make you an expert in aviation.


Lol, I thought the same thing when reading that sentence. The pilot can choose to land wherever they feel is necessary for the survival of the passengers. Although this pilot seems to have chose the wrong spot.
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185. Skyepony (Mod)
Haitians relocated to new camps as rains loom
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37829
That was very scary severehurricane i remember watching that wilma was an incredible storm with a 2nm wide eye! i dont care who you are if you see that coming towards you, you will get scared.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
I'm in Jamaica, and the drought is rough, BUT am afraid of what might happen when it breaks and especially so of this hurricane season.
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Tom...be nice.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25925
I won't ever forget waking up that morning and seeing Wilma's pressure at 882MB.

Photobucket


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Geez weatherwatcher12 i wish i can give you the rain were getting tomorrow here in tampa straight to you.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
I am crying for rain now

We need rain also, it's dry and I can smell smoke.
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
178. Karlo
Excuse me, but your beginning sentence, "always obey your air traffic controllers. That's the cardinal rule of of aviation"

Is incorrect. The pilot ALWAYS has ultimate authority on how to fly the craft and whether to accept ATC directions. I'm not defending this particular pilot who SEEMS to have been badly operating his plane but we do not yet know precisely what actually happened. I think you should stick to meteorology...a few rides in a hurricane hunter does not in my opinion make you an expert in aviation.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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.