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: 603 - 553

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

603. hurricane23
3:38 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Again folks feel free to use My Florida Radar page on my site.

I have some great radar links for anyone to use on that page.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
602. weatherboyfsu
8:37 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
Seeing some high cloud tops with this storm........Daytona is going to get it bad
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
601. TampaSpin
3:34 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Wow i have not seen a squal line like this in months with all the rotation in the GOM.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
600. NEwxguy
8:31 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
beat me to the warning
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
599. weatherboyfsu
8:34 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
Hey StormW..........check out the cell heading towards Daytona beach..........
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
598. HIEXPRESS
8:29 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
http://www.flamedia.com/lightning/light.htm

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/mlb/wrf/500_hgt_vort.html

Just big drops, close together so far here in SW Volusia Co.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
597. Ivansrvivr
8:31 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
How often is it you see supercells in the Gulf west of Tampa? Just east of a bow in the line too.
596. weatherboyfsu
8:33 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MELBOURNE HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
SOUTHERN AND EASTERN VOLUSIA COUNTY IN FLORIDA.

* UNTIL 415 PM EST

* AT 319 PM EST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING NICKEL SIZE HAIL...AND
DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH. THIS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR
DELTONA...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 40 MPH.

* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE...BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO...
LAKE HELEN...EDGEWATER...NEW SMYRNA BEACH...PORT ORANGE...PONCE
INLET...WILBUR BY THE SEA...DAYTONA BEACH...HOLLY HILL...ORMOND
BEACH AND ORMOND BY THE SEA

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.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
595. weatherboyfsu
8:31 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
Earth to NWS.........we now have ignition......


T-storm warning for volusia county.......I thought i was losing my mind
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
594. hurricane23
3:29 PM EST on March 07, 2008
StormW what are you anticipating for Southeast Florida later on this evening as the cold-front gets close to my area? Thanks for replied response in advance like always sir. Bye!!!

I can answer that for you...Right now i dont see it as the energy will likly not be there.For us across miami and broward counties we can expect a pretty rainy morning with gradual clearing during the afternoon hours.Scattered thunderstorms cant be ruled out tommorow but again things should stay under severe limits.

www.AdriansWeather.com
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
592. weatherboyfsu
8:31 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
THe next couple of hours.........Any storms that pop ahead of this line .........look out.........
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
591. weatherboyfsu
8:26 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
I cannot believe that the supercell entering volusia county hasnt had a warning.........geeeeezzzzzzzz
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
590. NEwxguy
8:23 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
Those are nasty cells popping up north of Orlando,they pop up and move northeast and then new ones form right behind them
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
589. hurricane23
3:29 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Dont expect anything severe in southeast florida tommorow morning.

Here are couple of great views from my software.



Click here to see state wide loop level 2.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

QuickPost Quickpost this image to Myspace, Digg, Facebook, and others!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
587. TampaSpin
3:21 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Alot of rotation off shore.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
586. weatherboyfsu
8:21 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
Looks like daytona beach is gonna get it.....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
584. AWeatherLover
8:19 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
lol, the weather channel... I'm not near a tv so I'm looking more for websites I guess. Anyone have an idea on timing? The line seems to be slowing down, but maybe that's just me.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
583. weatherboyfsu
8:17 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
There should be warning coming from the individual storms in seminole and volusia counties......
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
582. Ivansrvivr
8:15 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
I'm curious as to what effect the upper level energy hanging back toward LA/MS will have when it moves east. It seems possible that it may reinvigorate the squall line later on.
581. AWeatherLover
8:15 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
Link

Hope that link works. That is the sounding for Tampa Bay, FL, 12Z. CAPE isn't too impressive, but things could change.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
580. BahaHurican
3:15 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Afternoon, all.

TampaSpin, can I ask you to add width=650 to the long pictures you are posting? They are expanding the blog right off my laptop screen . . .

Thanks much.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21187
579. weatherboyfsu
8:13 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
Two things here:

1) The discrete cells over seminole and volusia county are getting stronger.....

2) Here comes the final push to throw this line thru....You can see line making progress on the Tampa Bay radar.........There are discrete cells riding ahead of it as well.......All this coming in during the maximum heating period with strong winds at the surface..........
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
578. weatherboykris
8:16 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
I'll BBL tonight.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
577. weatherboykris
8:15 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
I'm becoming very concerned about the threat of severe weather tonight. The 18z sounding showed a veering profile, and the forecast sounding look bad. The line over the GOM seems to be strengthening, and there is faint overall rotation in the MCS, indicating it may be a MCV, which would add to the longevity of the line.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
575. cchsweatherman
3:12 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Welcome back Storm. What are your thoughts now in terms of the environment and current progression of this storm system for Central and Southern Florida?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
574. Buhdog
7:58 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
Mr. FSU........No offense really. I have never offically chased any tornado's so I am sorry if I offended you. I just think that was kind of a silly statement because lightning is associated with virtually every thunderstorm. I have been through about 3 tornadoes and had damage from one in Cape Coral last fall. I followed it with my car for about ten minutes until it went bye-bye. I do not pretend to know more than you..but there had to be a better tip than that. I can say one thing that happened in my little world was;
Right befor the tornado hit us it was raining like hell and windy...but SUNNY in the direction it was headed. I remember saying "this is weird" before all hell broke loose.

Sorry if I came off wrong FSU
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
572. cchsweatherman
3:09 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Here is the bottomline. Unless you have an emergency and must leave your home, I would advise everyone in Central and Southern Florida to stay indoors tonight. South Floridians have more time, but should be indoors before 11 PM when the weather should begin encroaching on the area. This is going to get real nasty and could cause a few deaths. The ingredients are now ripe for tornadoes throughout the area.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
570. Littleninjagrl
8:09 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
Sheesh! If you look out side now its jsut a little cloudy. Doesn't even look like its going to rain. Weird how weather changes so quickly.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
569. weatherboyfsu
8:09 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
Yeah....stay inside and play some monopoly......with the weatherchannel on of course.....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
568. weatherboykris
8:08 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
Yes--stay indoors if possible.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
567. Littleninjagrl
8:07 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
So the bottom line for tampa is...we should probably stay indoors correct?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
566. weatherboykris
8:05 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
And look at that veering wind profile cchsweatherman! Tornadoes perhaps?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
565. cchsweatherman
3:01 PM EST on March 07, 2008
They have done forecast soundings for Miami at 18z. The atmosphere has continued to become more unstable and these numbers are really alarming.


Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
563. Patrap
2:02 PM CST on March 07, 2008
Official NWS Tampa


Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service Tampa Bay Ruskin Florida
103 PM EST Friday Mar 7 2008


..unsettled weather through tonight then windy Saturday...


Synopsis...low pressure is over north Georgia and associated cold
front extends south to the Panhandle and into the central Gulf. A
couple of shortwaves are noted on water vapor...embedded in a deep
trough over the central U.S..


&&


Short term (tonight-sunday)...the first shortwave has helped to
energize the showers and storms over North Florida this morning.
Had several reports of severe weather from Levy and Marion County
north. See storm reports from jax and tlh for details. Outflow
boundaries coming out from the line may interact with strong
southerly flow across the rest of our County Warning Area to produce additional
storms this afternoon. Thus another Tornado Watch is in place
until 6 PM. May be able to drop Levy County out the watch
soon...so stay tuned to our wcn's for these updates.


The second shortwave will finally drive the front through the
region overnight. Expected a solid line of showers and storms to
go through our County Warning Area. Still seeing 50-60 knot winds at 850 mb as the
line moves into the Tampa Bay area this evening. Given
undirectional nature looks like highest risk is for damaging winds
though cannot rule out an isolated spinup or even hail.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127371
562. weatherboykris
8:01 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
AWeatherLover--you can expect anything. Strong winds, tornadoes, lightning, hail, and maybe some minor flooding. It will occur within the next 6 hours. Keep checking--can't believe I'm saying this ;)-- the Weather Channel.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
561. AWeatherLover
7:56 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
Can anyone tell me just how severe the weather is expected to be around the Tampa area and areas just north? I seem to be getting conflicting results, and I'm just not sure what to be preparing for right now- just some steady rain, or severe thunderstorms with a possibility of tornadoes. Thanks all.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
560. NEwxguy
7:56 PM GMT on March 07, 2008
Severe Thunderstorm Warning

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE JACKSONVILLE FL
247 PM EST FRI MAR 7 2008

FLC083-107-072030-
/O.CON.KJAX.SV.W.0060.000000T0000Z-080307T2030Z/
MARION FL-PUTNAM FL-
247 PM EST FRI MAR 7 2008

...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 330 PM EST
FOR SOUTHERN PUTNAM AND EASTERN MARION COUNTIES...

AT 242 PM EST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR CONTINUED TO
INDICATE A LINE OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING PENNY
SIZE HAIL...AND DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH. THESE STORMS
WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM WEIRSDALE TO JUNIPER
SPRINGS...OR ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM EMERALDA TO JUNIPER
SPRINGS...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 15 MPH
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
559. nash28
2:55 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Ok gang. Headed home. Stay alert! Will be on tonight from my Apollo Beach mansion (just kidding). Front has slowed some, so the severe wx will be a couple of hours later.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
558. cchsweatherman
2:54 PM EST on March 07, 2008
556. JFV 2:54 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Good Friday afternoon Weather Underground bloggers!!! Gang I just arrived home right now from college, so weather wise what have I missed out on lately?


So much. Convection continues to build off in the GOM while the airmass over Central and Southern Florida continues to further destabilize with this intense heat produced by the constant sunshine we have had. Several tornado and flood reports coming from northern Florida. Just check out this satellite loop and it will paint a CLEAR picture.


Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
555. Michfan
1:43 PM CST on March 07, 2008
You know The Lake is soaking this up like a dry sponge.
Member Since: September 7, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1665
554. TampaSpin
2:48 PM EST on March 07, 2008
look at the satellite loop..Link
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
553. cchsweatherman
2:46 PM EST on March 07, 2008
Guys, there is a very tell-tale sign for impending severe weather strengthening that Ivansrvivr brought to my attention. If anyone lives in South or Central Florida where the sun is still shining, go outside after you read this. You should notice moisture laden cumulus clouds racing off towards the north and humidity continuing to rise. This is no ordinary cold front and squall line people. South Florida will get, quite possibly, a strengthening squall line during the early morning hours. This is very concerning.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 603 - 553

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

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

Light Rain
72 °F
Light Rain