Lufthansa jet narrowly avoids crashing in German windstorm

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

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

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203. NEwxguy
8:19 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
MichaelStl was indicating last week, that some of our worst hurricane seasons have been in the neutral years and not the La Nina or El Nino years.
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202. Altestic
3:18 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Good morning Adrian! I agree it's way too early. I don't think there's ever been anything in March in the gulf/caribbean. Two or three more months may do the trick though.
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201. Patrap
2:20 PM CST on March 06, 2008
GOM 120 Hour SSt model(reloaded), LOL
Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 439 Comments: 137186
200. NEwxguy
8:17 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
23 not looking for anything tropical,thats where the next big east coast storm is getting its act together.
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199. Ivansrvivr
8:15 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Louisiana, this la Nina is probably not going anywhere anytime soon. From a tropical deveoplment standpoint, a strong La Nina may be preferrable to a weak Nina or neutral condition. MichaelSTL's blog is good for info on Enso conditions.
198. Patrap
2:17 PM CST on March 06, 2008
No one said anything about tropical activity in the GOM.
Relax..LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 439 Comments: 137186
197. hurricane23
3:17 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Why are we looking for anything even close to being tropical in the gulf lol!Give it another 3 months or so before we worry about the tropics.

www.AdriansWeather.com
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13857
196. Patrap
2:16 PM CST on March 06, 2008
No severe here Mon night.
Nearest was in Tylertown, Miss.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 439 Comments: 137186
195. Altestic
3:13 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Actually yes let's hope that La Niña sticks around for hurricane season...we'll have a better season than the last two bust years. And we'll have less in the epace.

That thing in the Epace, Hades, is just associated with the TUTT.
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194. NEwxguy
8:12 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Talk about a contrast in weather, Denton texas conditions
Denton Municipal Airport
Lat: 33.2 Lon: -97.18 Elev: 646
Last Update on Mar 6, 1:53 pm CST


Heavy Snow Fog

33°F
(1°C) Humidity: 92 %
Wind Speed: N 18 MPH
Barometer: 30.06" (1018.1 mb)
Dewpoint: 31°F (-1°C)
Wind Chill: 22°F (-6°C)
Visibility: 0.25 mi.


sunny and 50 deg in Massachusetts.
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193. Ivansrvivr
8:12 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Altesic, it takes alot more than SST.s to allow for tropical development. Those warm SST.s in the carrib will fuel developing storm in GOM though.
192. louisianaboy444
8:12 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Altestic i really think the La Nina pattern has to blame for the early and dangerous start to the tornado season....is the la nina suppose to stick around again for this hurricane season that is the question let's hope not
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191. HadesGodWyvern
8:10 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
190. AWeatherLover
8:00 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Starting to pour here now in Brooksville, FL. Lots of lightning too. Storms from GOM moving ashore now.
Member Since: November 2, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 431
189. NEwxguy
8:03 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Interesting weather in northern Texas


Special Weather Statement
SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORT WORTH TX
155 PM CST THU MAR 6 2008

TXZ102>104-117>119-062045-
WISE TX-DENTON TX-COLLIN TX-PARKER TX-TARRANT TX-DALLAS TX-
155 PM CST THU MAR 6 2008

...SIGNIFICANT WEATHER ADVISORY FOR...
COLLIN COUNTY
WESTERN DALLAS COUNTY
DENTON COUNTY
PARKER COUNTY
TARRANT COUNTY
WISE COUNTY

MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOW WILL AFFECT WESTERN AND NORTHERN SECTIONS OF
THE DALLAS-FORT WORTH METROPLEX THROUGH 5 PM. CONDITIONS WILL
GRADUALLY DETERIORATE ACROSS THIS AREA AS SNOW INCREASES IN
INTENSITY AND AT TIMES IS ACCOMPANIED BY THUNDERSNOW. THE SNOW WILL
ACCUMULATE QUICKLY WITH ONE TO THREE INCHES EXPECTED THROUGH 5 PM.
USE EXTREME CAUTION WHEN DRIVING IN AREAS OF HEAVY SNOW AND ICY
ROADS.


LAT...LON 3300 9797 3301 9792 3324 9793 3340 9790
3339 9666 3258 9681 3257 9805
TIME...MOT...LOC 1950Z 222DEG 30KT 3288 9733
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188. louisianaboy444
8:08 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Hey patrap did you receive any severe weather reports around your area when that system rolled on through a few days ago....We had a few tornado reports here in South central louisiana especially in and around lafayette....
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187. Altestic
3:06 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Tornado season is already off to a bang louisiana boy.

Countdown to hurricane season:

2 MONTHS 25 DAYS 8 HOURS 50 MINUTES 06:44:33 SECONDS
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186. Altestic
3:05 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Patrap's Link:

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185. louisianaboy444
8:04 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Hey I'm so glad to see everyone back this year some people might remember me from the past few Hurricane seasons i'm ready for an interesting and quite dangerous tornado season and an interesting hurricane season
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184. Patrap
2:04 PM CST on March 06, 2008
GOM 120 Hour SST model..Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 439 Comments: 137186
183. Altestic
3:02 PM EST on March 06, 2008


So, TECHNICALLY does that mean something can form in the CARB? in MARCH? lulz.
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182. NEwxguy
7:53 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
It seems an active weather pattern that has been in place for most of the winter,gives the models a tough time.
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181. Patrap
1:56 PM CST on March 06, 2008
GOM 60 hour wind forecast model Link

GOM 60 hour wave forecast Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 439 Comments: 137186
180. Ivansrvivr
7:53 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Major spring storm developing in GOM has brought the usual suspects out of hibernation early.
179. Ivansrvivr
7:48 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
I have thought all along that storm #1 was only precursor to #2. Often the models (which got #2 right last week) have trouble with 2 strong systems like this. It's as if they were temporarily blinded by #1 for a few days.
178. Altestic
2:50 PM EST on March 06, 2008
So it looks like most of the regs from last year are back this year.
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177. NEwxguy
7:48 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
the models have been all over the place as to where the storm was going to come together and the track,but most of the models are coming into agreement.
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176. Patrap
1:44 PM CST on March 06, 2008
WRF Site Look at the Storm Link

This second storm of this week has been a difficult one to savvy. But its coming in clearer now.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 439 Comments: 137186
175. Ivansrvivr
7:38 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Patrap, what made it was hard for forecasters and models alike to get on was a system as strong as storm#1 not being the stongest system in the forecast.
174. cchsweatherman
2:39 PM EST on March 06, 2008
173. Patrap 2:38 PM EST on March 06, 2008
If one doesnt like how the Local NWS does their products and discussions.
E-mail them.
Im sure they will respond.They only human.

Well..at least thats what Im told..LOL


Thanks for the advice. I think I will.

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173. Patrap
1:37 PM CST on March 06, 2008
If one doesnt like how the Local NWS does their products and discussions.
E-mail them.
Im sure they will respond.They only human.

Well..at least thats what Im told..LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 439 Comments: 137186
172. Ivansrvivr
7:36 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Wasn't scenario you just named mentioned here before storm#1 developed?
171. NEwxguy
7:35 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
storm #2 was expected to be stronger,because you have two systems coming together over the SE and heading up the east coast,I think tomorrow will be much worse for Florida
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170. Patrap
1:36 PM CST on March 06, 2008
Jeezus..LOL

They need to present reality to people and do so in their graphics rather than the rather elaborate text products they issue.

Thus the Tornado Watch Box..

Weather is Fluid,.and dosent always follow a script.
Especially a dynamic ULL..and a developing Surface Low that can be hard to get a handle on out thru time.

Thats reality.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 439 Comments: 137186
169. Ivansrvivr
7:35 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Ch5 here mentioned possible strong T-strm activity here during noon forecast.
168. cchsweatherman
2:34 PM EST on March 06, 2008
166. Ivansrvivr 2:33 PM EST on March 06, 2008
CC, early in the week storm #2 looked like it would be stronger than storm #1.


I still believe this next storm will be stronger than this storm since the warm front has now created a highly unstable airmass over the entire SE for this storm to feed from.

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167. cchsweatherman
2:30 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Patrap, did they mention anywhere in their forecast page about severe weather here in South Florida? NO!!! Very few people read the discussions. They should do a much better job when issuing forecasts and graphics. If they mention possible severe weather in the discussion, then they should reflect that in the forecasts and graphics.
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166. Ivansrvivr
7:32 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
CC, early in the week storm #2 looked like it would be stronger than storm #1.
165. HadesGodWyvern
7:28 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Interesting thing is the tropical cyclone in the east Indian ocean is named Ophelia..didn't know they allowed to use the same names from the atlantic list.

same with "Ivan". The Southwest Indian Ocean Regional Specialized Meteorological Center makes a new list every year so no names are retired.

They might have Kristina some year though not sure if Kristina is a popular name for any of the African Counties/Indian Islands.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 53198
164. cchsweatherman
2:26 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Can't imagine what will happen once this cold front meets with this warm front. Can anyone say pre-Independence Day fireworks? Looking like a very ominous situation setting up for late Friday into Saturday over the entire SE.
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163. Patrap
1:28 PM CST on March 06, 2008
Before some get to Bashing their Local NWS..The Warning went out for A Severe Thunderstorm as the situation required.

One shouldnt discount ones own Countrymen doing their Jobs in a timely manner. I see Fla. is still attached, but correct me if Im wrong here.

Severe T-storm Warning:

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIAMI FL
1256 PM EST THU MAR 6 2008
Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 439 Comments: 137186
162. NEwxguy
7:25 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Pat,great radar,gotta be some tornadoes in that mess of storms.
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161. cchsweatherman
2:21 PM EST on March 06, 2008
WOW!! Texas is getting hit harder than Florida right now and I thought we were getting it bad. On the radar link provided by Patrap, I could make out three separate rotations. Very dangerous weather for the Texas Gulf Coast now.

This brings another prime example on the optimism presented by the NWS and SPC. For today, they had the Texas Gulf Coast as a slight severe weather risk. Look what is occurring now. Gives people a false sense of security. People pay more attention to graphics than text. The text has the mention of possible tornadoes, but the graphic does not reflect the text, thusly creating a false sense of security. They need to present reality to people and do so in their graphics rather than the rather elaborate text products they issue.
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160. Patrap
1:20 PM CST on March 06, 2008
NEXRAD Radar
Corpus Christi Base Reflectivity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 124 NMI

Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 439 Comments: 137186
159. cchsweatherman
2:18 PM EST on March 06, 2008
156. Ivansrvivr 2:17 PM EST on March 06, 2008
CC, were getting a nasty storm here in PBC. This is heaviest rains i've seen in quite a while. Big thunder and lightning too. This has to be above "severe" limits.


You know how the NWS is. Always underestimating the intensity of storms and not ballsy enough to come out with the truth concerning the weather. They always try to have an optimistic view on everything rather than a realistic view that I carry with me and in my forecasting.
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158. Patrap
1:18 PM CST on March 06, 2008
College of DuPage Meteorology
Severe Weather and Flash Flood Warnings
Note: This page will reload every 2 minutes. Warnings are listed with the most recent first.
NEW!! Click on the station ID to bring up list of recent severe weather statements.

Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 439 Comments: 137186
157. cchsweatherman
2:15 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Lets hope all these storms move over Lake Okeechobee and start working on moving the lake levels back in the right direction. South Florida will get more rain later when this convection in the GOM moves over. By the way, I got a final tally on the rainfall at my house in my rain guage. 4.42". Very impressive for only an hour and a half.
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156. Ivansrvivr
7:14 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
CC, were getting a nasty storm here in PBC. This is heaviest rains i've seen in quite a while. Big thunder and lightning too. This has to be above "severe" limits.
155. Patrap
1:13 PM CST on March 06, 2008


TORNADO WATCH PROBABILITIES FOR WT 0103NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1208 PM CST THU MAR 06 2008

WT 0103
PROBABILITY TABLE:
PROB OF 2 OR MORE TORNADOES : 40%
PROB OF 1 OR MORE STRONG /F2-F5/ TORNADOES : 20%
PROB OF 10 OR MORE SEVERE WIND EVENTS : 30%
PROB OF 1 OR MORE WIND EVENTS >= 65 KNOTS : 30%
PROB OF 10 OR MORE SEVERE HAIL EVENTS : 40%
PROB OF 1 OR MORE HAIL EVENTS >= 2 INCHES : 30%
PROB OF 6 OR MORE COMBINED SEVERE HAIL/WIND EVENTS : 70%
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 439 Comments: 137186
154. cchsweatherman
2:05 PM EST on March 06, 2008
The rain has finally relinquished and there is now just light rain. That was one hell of a storm. Got somewhere near 4 inches. There were areas that got worse. Street here is flooded...branches on the ground...pool almost topping over...much cooler...gutter ushering out water like a rapid. All signs of a strong storm here in Cooper City.
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153. Patrap
1:08 PM CST on March 06, 2008
2008 Hurricane Names: Arthur Bertha Cristobal Dolly Edouard Fay Gustav Hanna Ike Josephine Kyle Laura Marco Nana Omar Paloma Rene Sally Teddy Vicky Wilfred
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 439 Comments: 137186

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