Lufthansa jet narrowly avoids crashing in German windstorm

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:39 PM GMT on March 05, 2008

Share this Blog
2
+

A Lufthansa Airbus A320 with 137 people on board nearly crashed at the Hamburg, Germany airport on Saturday, March 1, as the pilot struggled to land the airplane during high winds kicked up by winter storm "Emma". If you don't have a fear of flying, take at look at the remarkable video an amateur photographer captured of the landing. It's been uploaded to LiveLeak.com and YouTube. As seen in the still images captured from the video (Figure 1), the pilot attempted to land the aircraft with a strong crosswind blowing from right to left. The crosswind is so strong that the drift angle of the aircraft (the difference between where the nose is pointed and the actual track of the airplane along the runway) is about 20 degrees. As the pilot touches the wheels down, he kicks the rudder to straighten the airplane out, and at that moment, a strong gust of wind lifts up the right wing, pushing the left wingtip of the aircraft into the runway. The pilot is skillful and lucky enough to avoid having the airplane cartwheel down the runway and explode, and aborts the landing attempt. You can see the blast of the engines kick up a cloud of dust on the left side of the runway as he goes to full throttle for a "go around" (thanks to Jeff Weber of UNIDATA for making the correct analysis of this dust cloud). The plane landed safely on its second attempt. Do you think the passengers were praying during that second landing? I do! Only minor damage was done to the left wingtip, and the plane was back in service by the next day.


Figure 1. Still photo of the Lufthansa jet (left) as it approached the runway. Note sharp angle between the direction the airplane's nose is pointed, and the track it is taking along the length of the runway. Strong winds of 40 mph gusting to 63 mph were observed at the airport that afternoon. Right photo: the left wingtip of the jet scrapes the runway as a big gust of wind hits. Image credit: LiveLeak.com.

The weather that led to the near disaster
The initial press reports indicated that a wind gust of 155 mph hit the aircraft as it tried to land. That sounded rather dubious to me, so I took a closer look at the weather conditions that day. The only way a wind gust of that magnitude could have been generated would be from a powerful microburst flowing out from the base of a severe thunderstorm. The world record strongest thunderstorm microburst occurred on August 1, 1983, when winds of 149.5 mph were clocked at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington D.C., just five minutes after President Reagan landed there aboard Air Force 1. So, a 155 mph wind gust is possible, but it would be a new world record.


Figure 2. Visible satellite image from 10:20 GMT Saturday March 1 2008. Winter storm "Emma", a 960 mb low pressure centered north of Hamburg over Norway, has pushed a cold front through Germany. A strong northwest to west-northwest flow of air coming off the North Sea (red arrows) brought sustained winds of 36 mph, gusting to 56 mph, to Hamburg, Germany. Image credit: University of Bern, Switzerland.

Were there severe thunderstorms near Hamburg on March 1 that could have generated such a wind gust? A powerful low pressure system (Emma) with a central pressure of 960 mb passed to the north of Hamburg, Germany that morning, dragging a strong cold front through in the late morning (Figure 2). After cold frontal passage, the wunderground history page for Hamburg at 12:50 GMT, five minutes before the time of the incident, shows sustained winds of 35 mph, gusting to 56 mph. A temporary wind reading of 40 mph, gusting to 63 mph, also occurred. The temperature was about 45°F, with occasional rain. This is classic post-cold front weather, and is not the sort of environment where severe thunderstorms with strong microbursts occur. Later press reports corrected the 155 mph wind gust, reducing it to 56 mph. Apparently, the aircraft's landing speed was 155 mph. In any case, the plane was operating very near to the maximum crosswinds an Airbus A320 is permitted to land in--38 mph, gusting to 44 mph. There are questions whether air traffic control should have used that runway for landings, and whether or not the pilot should have attempted a landing in those conditions. There is an interesting discussion at the LiveATC.net discussion forum where some pilots weight in on the near-disaster.

Winter storm Emma did considerable damage across Germany. Six people died in weather-related automobile accidents, power was cut to 150,000 homes, and high winds ripped the roof off of a school in Hesse. In neighboring countries, 260 buildings lost their roofs in Poland, flooding collapsed a bridge in Romania, and in the Czech Republic, 92,000 people (about 10 percent of the population) lost power.

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: 803 - 753

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26Blog Index

803. BahaHurican
8:10 PM EST on March 07, 2008
796. Ivansrvivr 8:09 PM EST on March 07, 2008
H-23, notice how the line is extending far to the south. That is a good indicator of a frontal boundary that will effect south Florida. Most dont dig into Gulf like that.


At the rate that line is moving, and also expanding southward, even the Caymans may get some stormy weather from this tomorrow. I now genuinely expect us to get at least SOME bad weather tomorrow. Looking at the NASA interactive satellite viewers, it appears extreme western Cuba is already getting some bad weather, and even the Keys are likely to feel some blows and drops overnight.

Big difference from the first front, isn't it?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
802. Ivansrvivr
1:15 AM GMT on March 08, 2008
I agree w/ Nash about Patrap's contributions here. He does a wonderful job of linking to the maps that are relevant to current discussions. Thanks. Ivan & Mo.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
801. hurricane23
8:16 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Ivan heres my page on the 93 superstorm!



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
800. Ivansrvivr
1:12 AM GMT on March 08, 2008
Recall the 93 superstorm, the frontal activity extended much farther south than this. However, there are similarities. I would have my Noaa radio on alert mode tonight.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
799. WPBHurricane05
8:11 PM EST on March 07, 2008
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MELBOURNE FL
807 PM EST FRI MAR 7 2008

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MELBOURNE HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
NORTHERN BREVARD COUNTY IN FLORIDA.

* UNTIL 830 PM EST

* AT 802 PM EST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING PENNY SIZE HAIL...AND
DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH. THIS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR
TITUSVILLE...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 40 MPH.

* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE...BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO...
MERRITT ISLAND WILDLIFE REFUGE...HAULOVER CANAL AND KLONDIKE BEACH

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS PRODUCE DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 58 MILES AN
HOUR AND OR LARGE DESTRUCTIVE HAIL. FREQUENT TO EXCESSIVE LIGHTNING
AND VERY HEAVY RAIN WILL ALSO BE POSSIBLE. IF THE STORM APPROACHES
YOU...SEEK SHELTER IN AN ENCLOSED BUILDING ON THE LOWEST FLOOR. KEEP
AWAY FROM WINDOWS.

DOPPLER RADAR HAS INDICATED SOME WEAK ROTATION WITHIN THIS STORM.
WHILE NOT IMMEDIATELY LIKELY...A TORNADO MAY STILL DEVELOP. IF A
TORNADO IS SPOTTED...ACT QUICKLY AND MOVE TO A PLACE OF SAFETY IN A
STURDY STRUCTURE...SUCH AS A SMALL INTERIOR ROOM.

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 200 AM EST SATURDAY MORNING
FOR EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA.

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
798. Ivansrvivr
1:09 AM GMT on March 08, 2008
23, on the surface it could very have warm core or hybrid characteristics. The Snow in Shreveport which is associated with the upper level support is "probably" not warm core.:0)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
797. BahaHurican
8:05 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Whoa! Looks like the action has moved over the Yucatan!

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
796. Ivansrvivr
1:07 AM GMT on March 08, 2008
H-23, notice how the line is extending far to the south. That is a good indicator of a frontal boundary that will effect south Florida. Most dont dig into Gulf like that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
794. hurricane23
8:08 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Could it be possible!!!Warm core.Naaaaaa.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
793. NorthxCakalaky
1:07 AM GMT on March 08, 2008
Snow for the south-east in March.

... Snow expected for northeast Louisiana... southeast Arkansas and
central Mississippi...

... Heavy Snow Warning remains in effect until midnight CST
tonight...

A Heavy Snow Warning remains in effect until midnight CST
tonight.

Colder air was spreading east across the region... with snow already
developing over portions of the warned area. Snow will continue to
move east through the afternoon and evening... becoming heavy at
times. Snow will taper off to flurries around midnight. Total
snowfall accumulation of three to five inches remain possible.

A Heavy Snow Warning means snowfall amounts in excess of 2 inches is
likely. Travel conditions may become dangerous. If you must
travel... keep emergency supplies in your vehicle.



Tornado warnings west of Atlanta,G.A.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
792. Ivansrvivr
1:04 AM GMT on March 08, 2008
JFV, I would expect that line to effect us in S.Fl between 3 & 6 am. (The worst time for severe weather).
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
791. hurricane23
8:05 PM EST on March 07, 2008
A bit large but just wanted to give folks a state wide radar view.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
789. WPBHurricane05
7:59 PM EST on March 07, 2008
I figure it should start to rain at WPB a little after midnight.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
787. WPBHurricane05
7:57 PM EST on March 07, 2008
whoa...I stay off this blog for 5 months and I find out I'm under a Tornado Watch.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
786. hurricane23
7:58 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Hey guys just got home from doing some groceries with my wife!The regular on fridays.
I was looking at an infrared loop of the gulf and boy the line has continued to blow up into the nighttime hours pretty interesting.As of now a tornado watch is up just north of me which does not include miami and broward counties.I suspect that could change in a few hours and the watch might be extended futher south.Adrian
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
785. nash28
12:55 AM GMT on March 08, 2008
Not in my neck of the woods Tampa.

Apollo Beach. Still haven't gotten anything yet. The intense red still left on the radar is approaching the extreme southern Hillsborough/Manatee Co. line.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
784. TampaSpin
7:53 PM EST on March 07, 2008
The severe weather threat appears over.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
782. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
12:53 AM GMT on March 08, 2008
parts of Mozambique is in extreme danger.

105 knots (10 min)
120 knots (1 min) CATEGORY 4!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
781. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
12:52 AM GMT on March 08, 2008
TROPICAL CYCLONE JOKWE ADVISORY NUMBER FOURTEEN
===============================================

At 0:00 AM UTC, Intense Tropical Cyclone 12R [930 hPa] located near 15.1S 41.2E has 10 minute sustained winds of 105 knots with gusts up to 150 knots. The cyclone is reported moving west-southwest at 10 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T6.0/6.0/D2.0/24 HRS


Hurricane-Force Winds within 10 NM from the center

Storm-Force Winds within 20 NM from the center

Gale-Force winds within 30 NM from the center

Near Gale-force winds within 40 NM from the center extending up to 50 NM from the center in the southern semi-circle

Forecast Position and Intensity
=================================
12 HRS: 16.0S 40.0E - 105 knots [CYCLONE Tropicale Intense]]
24 HRS: 17.0S 38.9E - 35 knots [DEPRESSION sur Terre]
48 HRS: 19.6S 38.6E - 40 knots [Tempête Tropicale Moderée]
72 HRS: 21.6S 37.5E - 60 knots [Forte Tempête Tropicale]

Additional Information
========================
Intense Tropical Cyclone Jokwe keeps on intensifying but will probably soon interact with continental surface. This intense midget cyclone with a tiny eye (less than 10 NM in diameter) reacts very quickly to the environment, and undergoes therefore rapid variations of intensity. Landfall on Mozambican coastline is expected this Saturday between 05:00 - 09:00 UTC between the island of Mocambique and the city of Angoche

It is expected to keep on tracking generally southwestward for the next 24 hours before it comes back overseas on a weak stage but with environmental conditions favorable for re-intensification.

MSLP is highter than usual for this intensity stage.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
780. BahaHurican
7:44 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Pat, it looks like that line is starting to fire more heavily at the southern end, near the Yucatan.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
779. BahaHurican
7:37 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
778. BahaHurican
7:18 PM EST on March 07, 2008
OH, for a floater over the S. Indian . . .

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
777. Patrap
6:33 PM CST on March 07, 2008

GOM GOES-12 Channel 3 (WV) false color
Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
776. TampaSpin
7:28 PM EST on March 07, 2008
There may be a vortex on the Hillsborough and Pasco county line. This is the best looking possiblity i have seen.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
775. HurrMichaelOrl
12:18 AM GMT on March 08, 2008
I haven't posted since this fall for hurricane season but have been following this squall-line with interest today since I am in Orlando. I'm surprised there haven't been any severe/tornado warnings for central Florida with the main line that's moved onshore. The forcasters have been talking about all the severe weather expected for the area. Is this just going to end up being a mostly heavy rain event for us, or is it supposed to intensify as it moves east?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
774. Patrap
6:20 PM CST on March 07, 2008
Okay nash,AW thanx. I got a lot to be thankful for after the surgery and getting moved. So I like to give back some .
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
773. nash28
12:19 AM GMT on March 08, 2008
Pat- You do a great job buddy! Don't think it goes unnoticed!
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
772. AWeatherLover
12:14 AM GMT on March 08, 2008
Pat- thanks for the link. Very helpful.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
771. Patrap
6:17 PM CST on March 07, 2008
NEXRAD Radar
Tampa Composite Reflectivity Range 124 NMI
Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
769. nash28
12:14 AM GMT on March 08, 2008
The energy and training is incredible tonight!
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
768. Patrap
6:12 PM CST on March 07, 2008
Bow echoes reloaded..Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
767. Patrap
6:10 PM CST on March 07, 2008
Morphed Integrated Microwave Imagery at CIMSS (MIMIC)
Version 1

Cyclone Jokwe
Vmax 96knts


Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
766. nash28
12:07 AM GMT on March 08, 2008
Thanks for the compliment.

Take a guess.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
765. Altestic
7:05 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Nash...are you the old man with the mustache in the pic or the young man with the bright red eyes?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
764. nash28
12:03 AM GMT on March 08, 2008
Pat- The link crapped out.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
763. Altestic
12:01 AM GMT on March 08, 2008
propare for T-Nadoes Floridians! Have fun with 'em.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
762. Patrap
6:00 PM CST on March 07, 2008
Ra
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
761. Weather456
7:33 PM AST on March 07, 2008
Tropical Cyclone nearing Mozambique Coast

Eye Temperature: -55C
Surrounding Temperature -75C

E Number - E6.5
Eye Adjustment - 0.0

DT 6.5
MET 5.5

CI based on MET: CI 5.5/102 kts/941 hpa (1 Min sustain)



Google maps of settlements along the coast of Mozambique



Accuweather Forecast

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
760. Patrap
6:00 PM CST on March 07, 2008
NEXRAD Radar
Tampa Base Reflectivity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 124 NMI

Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
759. BahaHurican
6:59 PM EST on March 07, 2008
I see Jacksonville radar is out.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
758. AWeatherLover
11:53 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
Finally starting to get bad here in north Tampa. Can anyone explain bowing to me? I've always heard it linked to tornadoes but I'm wondering why, as well as what exactly causes a storm to bow... Thank!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
757. TampaSpin
6:57 PM EST on March 07, 2008
A new cell has developed rotation just off clearwater beach area. I will montor closely.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
756. Tampawxgirl
6:51 PM EST on March 07, 2008
We're getting some light rain and lots of lightning here in East Pasco. The line of storms was looking a little weak a few minutes ago, but it's picking up strength.
Member Since: June 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 163
755. TampaSpin
6:53 PM EST on March 07, 2008
I see nothing bad approaching except intense rain.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
754. nash28
11:45 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
Guys- This line is bowing. More and more each frame.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
753. mermaidlaw
11:39 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
Hello everyone. Will there be more later tonight, or is this line it? I am going threw bad stuff here in Hernando county. THANKS!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 803 - 753

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26Blog Index

Top of Page

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.