A weather mystery solved!

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:28 PM GMT on November 27, 2006

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I asked for some help earlier this month to solve the mystery of where the photos below of a hail-damaged aircraft came from. Thanks to email replies I received from Chris Trott, Patty Jones, Ennien Ashbrook, and the pilot, Richard Barrieau, the mystery has been solved! The airplane was a Boeing 727-200 jet flown by Capital Cargo International Airlines (aircraft registration N708A). It took off from Calgary, Canada, and was enroute to Minneapolis the night of August 10, 2006, when it encountered large hail as it climbed from 30,000 feet to 35,000 feet in a thunderstorm over Alberta. An upper-level disturbance, in concert with a warm, moist air mass, combined to produce a large area of severe thunderstorms, including the one that damaged the unfortunate airplane. The hail damaged the airplane's windshield, nose cone, cowling on the two engines, leading edge of the right wing, lenses, and right side lights. An in-flight emergency was declared, and the the aircraft returned safely to Calgary International Airport. The landing was routine, as the pilot's windshield was undamaged and the weather was clear in Calgary. In an email I received from the pilot, he ruefully informed me that August 10 was his birthday. I think next year he should ask for the day off!

According to some of the mechanics that worked on the aircraft, the damage was mostly cosmetic. Replacement of the nose cone, windshield, cowling on the two engines and the leading edge of the right wing, plus the damaged lenses and lights only took a few days, and the plane has been back in service since September. Some erroneous information on the Internet stated that the airplane was a total loss, and that two crew members quit after they walked off the airplane; that was not the case.

The size of the hailstones the airplane hit is impossible to judge, as none of the stones penetrated the windshield and gave themselves up for examination! As the First Officer commented in a blog entry, "there was no way to measure the size of the hail much less compare it to sporting equipment." So, we'll never know if the plane hit golf ball, tennis ball, softball, or beachball sized hail.

We do know that at the ground, the thunderstorm produced at least golf ball sized hail. According to an email I received from Ennien Ashbrook, "the storm caused record damage to several communities between Red Deer and Calgary. In a couple of heavily-hit rural communities, the entire west walls of houses were completely destroyed, not even the interior drywall left standing. Damage-causing hailstorms are common here, but this one was a real record-breaker."





Hail damage to commercial passenger aircraft is rare, as modern aircraft radar and air traffic control procedures are adept at helping aircraft avoid hail-producing thunderstorms. If anyone has photos or accounts of damaging hail that has affected a commercial jet aircraft, I'd be interested to try to discover the most severe hail damage ever suffered by a commercial aircraft. Send suggestions via email or in the comments section of the blog.
One such incident occurred when hail damaged a Brazilian Airbus jet in March of this year (see photos posted by the MetSul Meteorologia Weather Center). This website also mentions two other cases of hail damage to commercial aircraft--a hailstorm over Germany that left a hole the size of a football in an Airbus plane which had more than 200 passengers on board enroute to England, and an Easyjet 737 that had an emergency landing in Geneva in 2003 after hail did extensive damage to the nose and wings of the plane.

Tropical Storm Durian
In the Western Pacific, residents of the Philippine Islands are anxiously watching Tropical Storm Durian, which is on track to hit the main island of Luzon later this week. The storm is currently suffering from reduced outflow aloft thanks to the influence of a trough to the northwest. However, the influence of this trough is expected to wane over the next 24 hours, and Durian is expected to intensify into a major typhoon. If it hits the Philippines as a major typhoon, it would be the fourth such storm to hit the islands in the past two months.


Jeff Masters

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

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129. Wishcasterboy
5:59 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
OLR anomalies....






128. hurricane23
5:21 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
Latest forcast track...


Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
127. SteveDa1
5:20 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
What a beautiful but dangerous looking storm... At least it looks small to me, any of you agree?

Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
126. Skyepony (Mod)
5:03 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
Webcam from Puerto Galera, Philippines. It's a little south of Manila.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36078
125. TX
4:58 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
87 degrees in TX ahhhh im sweating just walking to my classes
124. hurricane23
4:53 AM GMT on November 29, 2006

Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
123. SteveDa1
4:47 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
Has grown a lot in the last update.

18 GMT 11/25/06 8.6N 145.6E 35 Tropical Depression
00 GMT 11/26/06 9.2N 144.4E 40 Tropical Storm
06 GMT 11/26/06 9.7N 142.8E 40 Tropical Storm
00 GMT 11/26/06 9.2N 144.4E 40 Tropical Storm
06 GMT 11/26/06 9.7N 142.8E 40 Tropical Storm
12 GMT 11/26/06 10.1N 141.8E 50 Tropical Storm
18 GMT 11/26/06 10.6N 140.5E 50 Tropical Storm
18 GMT 11/27/06 10.6N 140.5E 50 Tropical Storm
00 GMT 11/27/06 10.8N 139.4E 50 Tropical Storm
06 GMT 11/27/06 10.7N 138.3E 50 Tropical Storm
12 GMT 11/27/06 10.7N 137.7E 60 Tropical Storm
18 GMT 11/27/06 11.0N 136.7E 65 Tropical Storm
18 GMT 11/28/06 11.0N 136.7E 65 Tropical Storm
00 GMT 11/28/06 11.4N 134.9E 65 Tropical Storm
06 GMT 11/28/06 11.9N 133.2E 70 Tropical Storm
12 GMT 11/28/06 12.2N 131.7E 75 Category 1
18 GMT 11/28/06 12.6N 130.0E 85 Category 1
18 GMT 11/29/06 12.6N 130.0E 85 Category 1
00 GMT 11/29/06 13.0N 128.6E 105 Category 2
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
122. hurricane23
4:41 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
Durian has become much symetrical over the past couple of hours...


Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
120. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
4:02 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
940 hPa reading for Durian.. near 110 knots. (not exactly sure)
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 48 Comments: 43661
119. Skyepony (Mod)
4:00 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
wind field..The light blue is ~60kts

Credit MatLab
click pic to enlarge
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36078
117. hurricane23
3:18 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
Those folks have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
115. Skyepony (Mod)
2:48 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
Rainfall rate averaged over the last 3 hrs according to TRMM.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36078
114. hurricane23
2:46 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
Looks very impressive on satelitte imagery this evening and if Durian continues to futher intensify futher which is looking very likely i think were looking at wide-spread damage from severe winds and extremely heavy rains.

Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
109. CybrTeddy
2:16 AM GMT on November 29, 2006


Look at that forming Eye this could be a Serious Situation if it hits pouplated areas.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23012
108. philliesrock
2:16 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
I need to go now. See you all tomorrow!!!!!
Member Since: June 29, 2006 Posts: 65 Comments: 3197
107. CybrTeddy
2:13 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
Hmmm So Durians A Cat 2. 3 by tommorow
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23012
106. philliesrock
2:12 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
Nope. Still not working.
Member Since: June 29, 2006 Posts: 65 Comments: 3197
104. philliesrock
1:56 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
It still doesn't work
Member Since: June 29, 2006 Posts: 65 Comments: 3197
102. philliesrock
1:54 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
Hmmmmm...still doesn't work
Member Since: June 29, 2006 Posts: 65 Comments: 3197
101. philliesrock
1:52 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
Okay I'll try that. Wait...
Member Since: June 29, 2006 Posts: 65 Comments: 3197
100. SteveDa1
8:48 PM EST on November 28, 2006


I got it, you have to put second part of file name too:

http://tcweb.fnmoc.navy.mil/tc_thumbs/20061129.0056.gms-6.ircolor.24W.DURIAN.90kts.954mb.13N.128.6E. jpg

Click on properties and copy URL + the part of the name mising in URL.
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
98. philliesrock
8:38 PM EST on November 28, 2006
MichaelSTL can post that, too. I don't get why it doesn't work with mine.
Member Since: June 29, 2006 Posts: 65 Comments: 3197
96. philliesrock
8:35 PM EST on November 28, 2006
hurricane23 how did you post that? When I try to post images from certain sites, they won't show up.
Member Since: June 29, 2006 Posts: 65 Comments: 3197
95. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
10:33 AM JST on November 29, 2006
that 80 knots is the 10 min average intensity, the JTWC might have the intensity near 90 or better.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 48 Comments: 43661
93. hurricane23
8:31 PM EST on November 28, 2006
philliesrock here is a visible from NRL...

Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
92. philliesrock
8:26 PM EST on November 28, 2006
Hmmmmmmmmm. I don't know why, but I can't post images from the Navy site. So here's a link to info on Durian.
Member Since: June 29, 2006 Posts: 65 Comments: 3197
91. hurricane23
8:24 PM EST on November 28, 2006
Durian continues to look more and more impressive on satelitte imagery...


Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
90. hurricane23
8:19 PM EST on November 28, 2006
Durian continue's to intensify...Winds at 90kts with central pressure at 950mb.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
89. Skyepony (Mod)
1:02 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
There is wild damage photos of the tornadoes that hit Britain in the Very important pics gallery in Wunder Photos. That storm ended up being pretty rough over there. No injuries:) though some ponys went for a tornado ride.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36078
87. Skyepony (Mod)
12:38 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
News on Reming

(UPDATE) Tropical storm Reming intensifies
Tropical storm Reming (international codename Durian) has intensified and is threatening to hit the Luzon area including Metro Manila, weather bureau PAGASA said Tuesday.

Super typhoon to hit Luzon
"If ever, this will be the third super typhoon to hit the country this year," Cruz said during a press conference at the Pagasa main office in Quezon City.


Their getting ready
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36078
86. CybrTeddy
12:26 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
Also notice the eye wall its Very Sementrical with a Small Eye on the IR i belive, It could be 90 or 95 next adivsery. Wonder how much damage is there in the NE Phillipens.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23012
85. CybrTeddy
12:23 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
Wow,if this hits this will be ohh hmmm the 4
storm of this year to hit that area of the Phillipens at Cat 4 or 5, Deja Vu much guys?
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23012
83. Skyepony (Mod)
12:09 AM GMT on November 29, 2006
That's fairly close to how it read a few hours ago, slight change to Vmax, pressure, cloud temps...it's odd...especially after the last hour's reading.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36078
82. hurricane23
7:04 PM EST on November 28, 2006
I expect steady strengthing with durian into a very powerful typhoon...


Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
80. Skyepony (Mod)
11:59 PM GMT on November 28, 2006
I checked the raw T# when I was through here a few hours ago, it was a 3.9 then.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36078

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About JeffMasters

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