Lufthansa jet narrowly avoids crashing in German windstorm

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

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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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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: 426 Comments: 129093
152. Altestic
2:06 PM EST on March 06, 2008
The NWS also says SNOW is possible for here in Dallas today...woot, I love snow.
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151. Patrap
1:05 PM CST on March 06, 2008
Names are retired in the Post season analysis.If it aint retired by now, it wont be.

Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
150. FLWeatherFreak91
7:03 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Hey guys...wow, the NWS is out to lunch or something bc Tampa's forecast is at 30% even though this huge blob is sitting offshore...and no "weather nows" have been issued...well I'll tell you- it's going to rain
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149. Altestic
2:03 PM EST on March 06, 2008
If you remember properly, Ophelia was one of the worst ones of '05.

So when are they due to retire the names from the 07 season?
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148. weatherboyfsu
6:54 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Looks like things are firing up in southern texas pretty early today........Tornado warnings


SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CORPUS CHRISTI TX
1225 PM CST THU MAR 6 2008

TXC249-355-061900-
/O.CON.KCRP.TO.W.0002.000000T0000Z-080306T1900Z/
JIM WELLS-NUECES-
1225 PM CST THU MAR 6 2008

...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 100 PM CST FOR WEST
CENTRAL NUECES AND CENTRAL JIM WELLS COUNTIES...

AT 1220 PM CST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR CONTINUED TO
INDICATE A STORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS STORM WAS
LOCATED NEAR BEN BOLT...OR ABOUT NEAR ALICE...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 10
MPH.

THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR...
AGUA DULCE BY 100 PM CST...

THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE DURING A TORNADO IS IN A BASEMENT. GET UNDER A
WORKBENCH OR OTHER PIECE OF STURDY FURNITURE. IF NO BASEMENT IS
AVAILABLE...SEEK SHELTER ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF THE BUILDING IN AN
INTERIOR HALLWAY OR ROOM SUCH AS A CLOSET. USE BLANKETS OR PILLOWS TO
COVER YOUR BODY AND ALWAYS STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS.

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 600 PM CST THURSDAY EVENING
FOR THE COASTAL BEND OF TEXAS.

LAT...LON 2789 9789 2769 9781 2763 9811 2768 9816
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147. Patrap
1:01 PM CST on March 06, 2008
Each Basin,makes their own Cyclone name List independent of one another. Coincidence only
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
146. Altestic
1:56 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Hai, what's up guys?!

LMAO...there's NO CHANCE of anything in the gulf of mexico to form because it's just not in season.

Wait two or three months and we might see one. The waiting game...

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.

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144. cchsweatherman
1:54 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Here in Cooper City, the street outside my house has completely flooded and my lawn is even getting flooded. I wanted rain, but this much at one is not a great thing. Could do more harm than good. Still haven't lost power yet. I have already called all my friends to warn them on the Severe Thunderstorm Warning and the Urban Flood Warning.
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143. NEwxguy
6:53 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
radar is really popping in texas, and in the gulf,really looks like the the atmosphere is getting juiced up.
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142. Patrap
12:54 PM CST on March 06, 2008



Be sure to Have a NOAA Alert Radio on Hand.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
141. tornadofan
6:47 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
JFV, do you have emergency supplies stocked up? A safe place to stay? An Ipod to listen to when the power goes?

Not to mention, make sure camcorder and digital cameras are fully charged so you can catch the action of any possible severe storms or tornadoes swinging by.
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140. Patrap
12:50 PM CST on March 06, 2008
NEXRAD Radar
Tampa Base Reflectivity 1.45 Degree Elevation Range 124 NMI
Link


GOM IR Loop Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
139. weatherboyfsu
6:48 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Rains are coming........
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138. hydrus
6:32 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
CCHSWEATHERMAN-I can understand what you mean.In 1976 Hurricane Belle moved north just off the New Jersey shore line.Being from Florida we thought we were safe from most hurricanes so far north.That storm did a good amout of damage to the vessels along moored along the coast.The water was our families livelihood and thats when I knew how important weather is to many people.
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137. Patrap
12:47 PM CST on March 06, 2008
NEXRAD Radar
Miami Storm Total Surface Rainfall Accumulation Range 124 NMI
Link

Godspeed?
Is there a Manned Launch today I dont know about?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
136. weatherboyfsu
6:42 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Very interesting!!!!!!


weather.gov
National Weather Service

Watches, Warnings & Advisories
Local weather forecast by "City, St" or zip code
2 products issued by NWS for: Brookridge FL
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Coastal Flood Statement
COASTAL HAZARD MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAMPA BAY AREA RUSKIN FL
127 PM EST THU MAR 6 2008

...ABOVE NORMAL WATER LEVELS FRIDAY LATE MORNING TO LATE AFTERNOON
FOR THE NATURE COAST...

FLZ039-042-048-071200-
/O.NEW.KTBW.CF.S.0003.080307T1600Z-080307T2300Z/
LEVY-CITRUS-HERNANDO-
127 PM EST THU MAR 6 2008

A LOW PRESSURE AREA WILL MOVE ASHORE OVER THE NORTH CENTRAL GULF COAST
FRIDAY MORNING. WINDS WILL PICK UP FROM THE SOUTH AHEAD OF THIS LOW AND
EXPECT WATER LEVELS TO RISE TO AROUND 2 FEET ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS
BY LATE MORNING AND THROUGH THE AFTERNOON. THIS RISE WILL BE CLOSE TO
THE TIME OF HIGH TIDE...THUS ALLOWING THE POSSIBILITY OF MINOR COASTAL
FLOODING.

THE LOW WILL CONTINUE INTO THE SOUTHEAST U.S. AND DRAG A COLD FRONT
ACROSS THE STATE LATE FRIDAY INTO EARLY SATURDAY. ANOTHER MINOR
COASTAL FLOODING EVENT IS POSSIBLE AS THE FRONT MAY COME THROUGH
DURING THE TIME OF MAXIMUM ASTRONOMICAL HIGH TIDE. STAY TUNED FOR
UPDATES.

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133. cchsweatherman
1:38 PM EST on March 06, 2008
WOW!!! Been waiting for this weather here in Cooper City for quite sometime. Getting a very good soaking rain with occassional lightning and gusty winds. Severe weather still has not made it here. May lose power from these storms, but I will remain online until that does happen.
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132. cchsweatherman
1:37 PM EST on March 06, 2008
The National Weather Service in Miami has issued an

* urban flood advisory for...
eastern Broward County in Southeast Florida...
this includes the cities of... Tamarac... sunrise... Pompano Beach...
Plantation... Margate... Hollywood... Hallandale... Fort Lauderdale...
Deerfield Beach... Davie... Coral Springs...

* until 315 PM EST

* at 118 PM EST... National Weather Service Doppler radar indicated
slow moving thunderstorms with heavy rain occurring over the Broward
Metro area. 2.1 inches of rain was recorded in only a half hours
time in Hollywood. These heavy rainfall rates will lead to urban
flooding... with the most prone areas over southeast Broward County.

Most flood deaths occur in automobiles. Never drive your vehicle into
areas where the water covers the roadway. Flood waters are usually
deeper than they appear. Just one foot of flowing water is powerful
enough to sweep vehicles off the Road. When encountering flooded
roads make the smart choice... turn around... dont drown.

Lat... Lon 2620 8009 2620 8010 2618 8010 2610 8010
2610 8011 2609 8010 2598 8011 2597 8032
2633 8030 2632 8008
time... Mot... loc 1818z 250deg 4kt 2605 8019
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131. cchsweatherman
1:36 PM EST on March 06, 2008
... A Severe Thunderstorm Warning remains in effect until 145 PM EST
for southeastern Broward County...

At 112 PM EST... National Weather Service Doppler radar continued to
indicate a severe thunderstorm capable of producing penny size
hail... and damaging winds in excess of 60 mph. This storm was located
near Hollywood... moving northeast at 6 mph.

The severe thunderstorm will be near...

Hollywood...
downtown-Davie...
intersection I-595 and I-95...

And surrounding communities.

Severe thunderstorms can produce very strong winds in excess of 60
mph... large hail... deadly lightning... and very heavy rainfall. Stay
inside away from windows until the storm has passed.

Severe thunderstorms can also produce tornadoes with little or no
advance warning. Prepare to move to a place of safety in an interior
room in the lowest floor of your house or business if a tornado is
spotted.

Lat... Lon 2599 8011 2598 8028 2612 8026 2614 8010
time... Mot... loc 1814z 217deg 5kt 2604 8019
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127. cchsweatherman
1:20 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Just wanted to let you all know that I have posted my first ever blog on Wunderground. It explains how I've come to this point in studying weather and now able to create forecasts. Feel free to leave comments. Here is the Link
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126. hydrus
6:12 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
CCHS-I was effected by the 93 storm in many ways to many to type here,but I can say I will never forget it.
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123. cchsweatherman
1:02 PM EST on March 06, 2008
South Florida needs to watch this convective mass in the GOM. During the past few images from satellite loops, the storms seem to have been angling SEward. There is now a very unstable airmass over Central and Southern Florida as a result of the lift caused by the warm front migrating slowly northward. Several strong thunderstorms have been developing over Broward and Collier counties. As I was just typing, I saw a near-blinding lightning flash outside my backyard. This is the most concerning thing to me as this lightning could be very dangerous. Just stay alert for any warnings during the afternoon.
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122. hydrus
5:50 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
QUASIGEO-The reason I mention the eastern carribean also is once a tropical cyclone gaines T.D. or T.S.status just east of the Windward Islands and is moving generally westward the cyclone intensifies quite rapidly if atmospheric conditions are right(I remember Gilbert in 1988)and a few others that materialized in the same way regarding movement and strengthening as the storms progressed.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
120. IKE
12:01 PM CST on March 06, 2008
From this mornings latest Tallahassee,FL. weather discussion....

Marine...minimal winds and seas expected today with weak high
pressure in control. Situation will change rapidly tonight as low
pressure develops over the northern Gulf. Southerly winds will
increase...reaching small craft criteria over the western legs by
midnight. Small craft conditions will spread over all waters by
Friday morning before diminishing from west to east as the cold
front moves across the waters. Winds will increase again Saturday
morning behind the cold front before diminishing Saturday
afternoon. Seas will increase Thursday night into Friday. May see
seas reach as high as 10 to 12 feet well offshore on Saturday in the
wake of the cold front. In anticipation of a busy afternoon, we have
decided to issue the Small Craft Advisory with this morning's
forecast. It is not out of the realm of possibilities that a gale
watch may become necessary for the strong Post frontal west-northwest winds
expected Sat night. If so, this will be the first ever gale watch
issue by this office.
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119. cchsweatherman
12:55 PM EST on March 06, 2008
116. JFV 12:54 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Weatherman what would you recommend I do here in northern dade-county today, giving the dangerous weather situation that's developing down ghere today?

To be honest, I think that Miami-Dade may get some heavy rains and a strong storm or two, but it is not a dangerous weather situation. The closer you are to the warm front, the higher the risk for strong storms. Just keep an eye out for dangerous lightning and flooded roadways and stay tuned to the radar for updates on developing storms.

117. HouseofGryffindor 12:54 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Any chance the storms off the west coast of FL will be severe when they get to land?

Taking a look at the latest satellite images, the convection has begun to weaken as it has gotten closer to land, but I would not rule out severe weather along the Florida West Coast this afternoon as the daytime heating and increasing moisture produced by the warm front could reenergize this activity. Like I said to JFV, keep alert to your environment and stay tuned to radar and your Local NWS info if severe weather does strike.


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115. cchsweatherman
12:47 PM EST on March 06, 2008

... Strong thunderstorm moving across the Broward Metro area...

At 1241 PM EST... National Weather Service Doppler radar indicated
strong thunderstorms occurring across the Broward metropolitan area.
One strong thunderstorm was located over Hollywood. Another strong
storm was located between Oakland Park and Pompano Beach. The storms
were drifting north. Pea size hail was just reported in Pompano
Beach.

The primary impacts will be up to pea sized hail and gusty winds of
40 to 50 mph... which can down small tree limbs and branches... and
blow around unsecured small objects. Seek shelter in a safe building
until the storm passes.

Also... these storms are developing in an environment favorable for
tornadoes.

Stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio and other local media for further
details or updates.

Lat... Lon 2624 8008 2618 8010 2610 8010 2608 8010
2607 8011 2599 8011 2598 8027 2627 8025
2628 8008
time... Mot... loc 1745z 180deg 0kt 2626 8037
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114. quasigeostropic
12:43 PM EST on March 06, 2008
but at the same time I never see alot of developement in the eastern carribean as opposed to the western and S.W carribean.

Trade winds are typically very strong(east to west winds) there and tropical cyclogenesis isn't favorable in such strong regions of wind(also referred to as the "graveyard" area of the Caribbean)......

just in and out....bye
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113. Patrap
11:45 AM CST on March 06, 2008
NDBC Buoy Station 42003 - E GULF 262 nm South of Panama City, FL Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
112. Patrap
11:39 AM CST on March 06, 2008
Hobbyists is the term.
There is no such thing as a amateur Met.

Rely on your Local NWS Products for the info.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
110. cchsweatherman
12:34 PM EST on March 06, 2008
108. weatherbro 12:31 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Hydrus,

that low which is starting to form just off of Texas. It may or may not approach superstorm status. "If"(and I do mean IF lol) it does, serial deracho here we come.


Just a question for you. Why do keep on relating possible storms to the 93 SuperStorm? Were you affected by it greatly?
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109. cchsweatherman
12:30 PM EST on March 06, 2008
107. nash28 12:23 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Great illustration Cchs. Really shows how the dynamics are coming together.


Thanks Nash. When I give forecasts and explain things going on with the weather, I try to place in laymens terms so everyone can understand the current situation and why things are happening the way they are. Many people rley on my forecasts since they know that they will understand my forecasts and know that I understand what I'm talking about, even though I'm only an amateur meteorologist.

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108. weatherbro
5:14 PM GMT on March 06, 2008
Hydrus,

that low which is starting to form just off of Texas. It may or may not approach superstorm status. "If"(and I do mean IF lol) it does, serial deracho here we come.
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107. nash28
12:21 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Great illustration Cchs. Really shows how the dynamics are coming together.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
106. Patrap
11:22 AM CST on March 06, 2008
US Fronts animated..wunderground graphic Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
105. IKE
11:20 AM CST on March 06, 2008
Cold air heading SE toward SE Texas...

Dallas Love, Texas (Airport)
Updated: 5 min 27 sec ago
Light Rain
37 F

Light Rain Mist
Windchill: 30 %uFFFDF
Humidity: 87%
Dew Point: 34 %uFFFDF
Wind: 10 mph from the North
Pressure: 30.07 in (Falling)
Visibility: 4.0 miles
UV: 2 out of 16
Clouds:
Mostly Cloudy 1400 ft
Mostly Cloudy 2100 ft
Overcast 5000 ft
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 486 ft
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104. Patrap
11:19 AM CST on March 06, 2008
Mid Atlantic Low, GOES-12 Channel 3 (WV) Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
103. cchsweatherman
12:06 PM EST on March 06, 2008
Here is a graphic explaining the current situation and why we are seeing some explosive convection developing in the GOM.
img src="Photobucket" alt="" />

Right now, a stationary front has transitioned into a warm front and has begun slowly moving northward. With this boundary, very tropical air has begun to filter into South Florida and the GOM. In the upper levels of the atmosphere, the subtropical jet stream is creating rapid upper level winds coming from the SW, leading to the titled appearance of the storms. With the lift created by the boundary, significant heating occurring over the GOM, and a fast upper level jet, they create perfect conditions for explosive thunderstorm development. Now, the much talked about cold front has begun moving into Eastern Texas which has begun to pull moisture out from the GOM and over the Gulf Coast. All these ingredients have come together for the explosive convective activity in the GOM.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.