Help solve a weather mystery

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:55 PM GMT on November 17, 2006

Share this Blog
3
+

The second in the series of Dr. Masters' vacation blogs.

Help solve a weather mystery

I'm often asked why it is that the Hurricane Hunters are unafraid to fly in extreme Category 5 hurricanes with 200 mph winds, but refuse to fly in garden variety thunderstorms with winds of perhaps 30 mph. Well, airplanes don't care about wind, as long as it's all moving the same direction at the same speed (i.e., there is no wind shear). Granted, some hurricanes have outrageous wind shear that creates severe turbulence capable of damaging the airplane. However, threats of this nature pale in comparison to the chief hazard of flying into thunderstorms--hail. Even small hail poses a significant threat to airplanes. Hurricanes rarely have hail, except at high altitudes in some of the stronger storms. On a mission I flew into Category 3 Hurricane Emily of 1987, one of our airplanes encountered pea-sized hail in the eyewall at 18,000 feet, and the ice scoured off the airplane's paint job in some places. More seriously, hail damaged two of the engines, causing oil leaks that forced the airplane to abort the mission after a record 34 penetrations of the hurricane's eyewall.

Large hail can seriously damage an airplane, as seen in the incredible photos below. These origin of these photos is unknown, but they have been circulating on the Internet for a few months. Presumably, they were taken on August 10, 2006, but no one knows where. If you can shed some light on this mystery, drop flightglobal.com and myself an email.





Armored T-28 hail research aircraft retires
Speaking of hail and airplanes, the world's only aircraft equipped to safely to fly into mature thunderstorms, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology's armored T-28, is being retired this year after over 900 penetrations of thunderstorms and 37 years of service. The famed aircraft, which has survived updrafts as strong as 115 mph, 2-inch hail, and numerous lightning strikes, will go on display at the Strategic Air and Space Museum at Ashland, Nebraska. The National Science Foundation has requested to the Pentagon that a two-engine A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft be made available as a replacement. A two engine hail penetration aircraft is a good idea! I spoke with one of the pilots of the T-28 back in 1987, during a thunderstorm research program I was involved with. The pilot told me that he had done several "dead stick" landings on highways after lightning strikes had knocked out power to the single engine of the T-28.

Here's the specs on the special modifications the T-28 aircraft had, taken from the web site above:

The leading edges of the wings and tail surfaces are covered with 2.29 mm (0.090 inch) 2024T4 heat-treated aluminum sheets formed to fit and bonded to the existing wing and tail surfaces. The tops of the wings are covered with 0.81 mm (0.032 inch) sheets of the same material. The leading edges of the cowling are covered with an additional sheet of fitted 3.18 mm (0.125 inch) aluminum. This armor plating adds about 318 kg (700 lb) to the aircraft weight.

The carburetor is protected from ingestion of large hailstones by the addition of a metal grate to the air intake to break up the hailstones prior to entry. A similar device was installed over the oil cooler intake to prevent damage to the relatively fragile oil radiator.

The canopy also required substantial modification since the standard Plexiglas bubble canopy was much too weak to withstand encounters with large hail. The windshield was replaced with flat sheets of 1.91 cm (0.75 inch) stretched acrylic and the side panels were made of flat sections of 1.52 cm (0.60 inch) stretched acrylic. The windshield and the leading-edge armor were tested to withstand 7.6-cm diameter hail at penetration velocities by firing ice balls from a specially-built hail "cannon" at test sections of the aircraft.


Figure 1. The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology's armored T-28 weather research aircraft. Photo taken by Jeff Masters in June, 1987 in Huntsville, Alabama during T. Theodore Fujita's Microburst and Severe Thunderstorm (MIST) field program.

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 444 - 394

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11Blog Index

435. Patrap
7:57 PM CST on November 19, 2006
Friends are like sunshine
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
434. aquak9
8:50 PM EST on November 19, 2006
oh for crying OUT LOUD CB!!! you think Patrap has not cried? do you EVER read anyone else's blog, or do you just go ON, and ON, and ON on any blog that you haven't been banned from? If you even took a moment to keep up with the other humans that post on this sight, you might come to realize that we have ALL suffered from these past year's events!! If you'd take of your blinders for once...you might see outside of your flippant tunnels!!!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
432. Patrap
7:42 PM CST on November 19, 2006
Cb..theres a theory thrown around by some Planatery Scientist and astronomers.Earthlike civilazations either survive their technology..or are destoyed by It.After a certain threshold is reached..like Nuclear fission and fusion.A world must conquer its technology..or be destroyed each other in the process.We now at that threshold here.If we survive another 500years,Chances are we can overcome the distress we causing Earth.If not..Earth will move on without our puny butts.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
431. Patrap
7:48 PM CST on November 19, 2006
LAughing at you..LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
429. Patrap
7:40 PM CST on November 19, 2006
Try dealing with the Planet on a Daily Basis.Walk more.Waste less.Be a doer.Not a naysayer of gloom & doom.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
428. Patrap
7:39 PM CST on November 19, 2006
You part of the Genearal Population.We all responsible for the warming effects in a way.Dont point unless you innocent.You cant be.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
427. Patrap
7:37 PM CST on November 19, 2006
Plant a tree.Smile at a child...You one of the Jack asses.Unless you crawl around.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
425. Patrap
7:36 PM CST on November 19, 2006
+Earth will take care of earth CB..relax..take a walk.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
421. Skyepony (Mod)
1:11 AM GMT on November 20, 2006
Patrap~ I've given them as gifts:)
GAGuy~ Hadn't seen that one..the link needs a / on it. Some of the same stuff, some different gauges? thanks.
Aquak~ lol
Off to play ya'll.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
417. aquak9
8:07 PM EST on November 19, 2006
Tunnel-cakes? Funnel cakes?

I SO deserve to be banned from this blog!!!

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
414. Patrap
7:02 PM CST on November 19, 2006
Im sure you meant Funnels didnt you?..Cause the Tunnels wont..cant ..and will never work or be built.We have thousands of steel stuctures in the GOM..they called Oil Rigs.LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
412. Patrap
7:01 PM CST on November 19, 2006
Thats a conditioned response..LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
411. Patrap
7:00 PM CST on November 19, 2006
Thats a new one Skye..thanks.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
409. Skyepony (Mod)
12:50 AM GMT on November 20, 2006
Trolling through the NWS product anouncement stuff...

NWS IS PROPOSING TO ELIMINATE THE NATIONAL HYDROLOGIC SUMMARY /WMO
HEADER FGUS71 KWBC/ ON DECEMBER 31 2006. THIS PRODUCT IS NORMALLY
PROVIDED DURING THE WORK WEEK. IT INCLUDES A GENERAL OVERVIEW OF
FLOODING THAT OCCURRED SINCE THE LAST ISSUANCE OF THE PRODUCT.
THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS PRODUCT IS NOW AVAILABLE IN A
MORE TIMELY MANNER ON THE INTERNET.

Which it is, this new product has been pretty neat..you can see all the river gauges by clicking on the map.

They are excepting comments by Sept 30th
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
408. Patrap
6:58 PM CST on November 19, 2006
Easy CB..youll blow a tunnel gasket.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
407. Patrap
6:55 PM CST on November 19, 2006
Looks Like east coast going to feel a Big Blow for sure.With even some snow in the Appalachians.A windy event is forcasted.Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
405. Patrap
6:52 PM CST on November 19, 2006
I urge all WUBA members to purchase NOAA radios for themselves and for gifts for others this Holiday season.The man we lost here in St Helena Parish that morning ..when the Tornado struck..may have survived if he new severe weather was imminent.What better gift to give than the Gift of Warning in a severe weather event?...Money well spent.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
403. Patrap
6:50 PM CST on November 19, 2006
That secondary peak of Severe is always a threat in November Skye..lotsa folks dont think we can get wacked in November.Great Link on that story.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
401. Patrap
6:46 PM CST on November 19, 2006
This is not a classroom for Idiocy.We all grown men.Post a Blog entry..And maybe we can discuss things sensibly there.But you constantly crammed this stuff down our throats.You enter into sane conversations with postings that makes us feel ..uncomfortable.Have some respect for the Docs Blog.We all do.ANd Im no model blogger.I make mistakes..I get on nerves .But I never force my Opinions on every subject ..on others.Thats childlike teenage behavior.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
400. Skyepony (Mod)
12:44 AM GMT on November 20, 2006
NWS article on the Mongomery, AL tornado a few days ago. Goes a little into the storms earlier in the day. Patrap wasn't the only one running from his trailer back into his house being repaired from Katrina that day...& this woman then lost her trailer. Sounds like they saved alot of lives that day.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
398. nash28
12:47 AM GMT on November 20, 2006
And if we cared, we would read it.

You can't continue to shove this down everyone's throats everytime you post.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
395. Skyepony (Mod)
12:40 AM GMT on November 20, 2006

Pharaoh (Senior Forecaster Alan Albanese) rides Grand Marshal float as NWS Supergirl (HMT Helen McCall marches along side. (Photo Denis Feltgen, NWS)

NWS in Key West were invited to be the Grand Marshels at the 2006 Fantasy Fest Parade.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
394. Patrap
6:39 PM CST on November 19, 2006
We have a Blog directory.Post an entry there.And watch the world beat a line to your blog and save the world there.Not here.We tire of it..please.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457

Viewing: 444 - 394

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11Blog Index

Top of Page

About

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

Local Weather

Overcast
30 °F
Overcast