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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230. wjc4
10:42 PM GMT on December 19, 2006
Dr. Masters: The registration is actually N708AA (2 "A"s, for American Airlines, which owned it before it was converted to a freighter and sold). Pictures of it in more pristine form can be found on sites like www.airliners.net For example, a photo may be found at the following link to airliners.net:
Link
229. Skyepony (Mod)
2:53 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
Oh..So your under evacuation? Going? We tend to watch the traffic cam from there. Best of luck to you & yours.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 270 Comments: 40518
228. aspiringstat
2:53 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
see you guyz tomorrow if there's still electricity on our place.
227. Skyepony (Mod)
2:50 PM GMT on November 29, 2006

Here's the chart with the T# strengths...remember to us the NW pacific collum.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 270 Comments: 40518
226. aspiringstat
2:46 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
Southern Part of Metro Manila
225. Skyepony (Mod)
2:44 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
aspiringstat~ What part of the Philippines are you in?
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 270 Comments: 40518
223. aspiringstat
2:33 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
Typhoon (JMA)
Category 4 typhoon (1-minute mean)
As of: 1200 UTC November 29, 2006
Location: 13.3N 126.4E
As of 0900 UTC: 370 nm east-southeast of Manila
Winds: 105 kt (195 km/h, 120 mph) sustained (10-minute mean)
135 kt (250 km/h, 155 mph) sustained (1-minute mean)
gusting to 165 kt (305 km/h, 190 mph)
Pressure: 915 hPa
Movement: West at 8 kt
See more detailed information.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Pacific_typhoon_season#Typhoon_Durian_.28Reming.29
220. Skyepony (Mod)
2:31 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
Morning nieghbor! I's pretty happy about that rain:)

Pressure & all was from the navy site.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 270 Comments: 40518
219. hurricane23
2:28 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
This is the third time Pagasa has had to be on extreme alert after cimaron and chebi.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13846
218. Skyepony (Mod)
2:27 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
The damage estimates look grim this morning. Scroll down to below the storm to the interactive mapping for it. Zoom in..pretty wide path of severe damage. Changing to surge mode, has increased since lastnight, up to 13 to 15 ft in some spots.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 270 Comments: 40518
213. Skyepony (Mod)
2:21 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
I'm up...wow. I knew this was gonna bomb lastnight, just really needed sleep...135kts, 904mbs. Track shifted south too, right over Manila.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 270 Comments: 40518
212. sandcrab39565
2:21 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
Be back in a bit gotta make a meeting with Red Cross.
Member Since: June 25, 2006 Posts: 36 Comments: 9972
211. sandcrab39565
2:20 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
Pat I will send a WU to ya after the con.
Member Since: June 25, 2006 Posts: 36 Comments: 9972
210. sandcrab39565
2:18 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
heres a site on the Phlipines "www.typhoon.ph/"
Member Since: June 25, 2006 Posts: 36 Comments: 9972
208. sandcrab39565
2:16 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
Were ya going Rand?
Member Since: June 25, 2006 Posts: 36 Comments: 9972
206. sandcrab39565
2:15 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
This is a large storm I am afraid it is going to hit them hard.
Member Since: June 25, 2006 Posts: 36 Comments: 9972
203. sandcrab39565
2:14 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
Yeah I know Pat I am having a phone com with NWS at 10am to get an update on what type of storms may effect us later.
Member Since: June 25, 2006 Posts: 36 Comments: 9972
202. hurricane23
2:14 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
Very cymetrical indeed...


Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13846
199. sandcrab39565
2:12 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
23 from what I am seeing it looks like its going to hit as a 5
Member Since: June 25, 2006 Posts: 36 Comments: 9972
196. sandcrab39565
2:11 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
How is the Cresent City this am?
Member Since: June 25, 2006 Posts: 36 Comments: 9972
195. hurricane23
2:11 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
If durian does not begin to weaken soon we are looking at wide-spread damage from this category 4 typhoon.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13846
194. sandcrab39565
2:11 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
Doing good Rand just working on next years evac plans and updating shelter plans.lol
Member Since: June 25, 2006 Posts: 36 Comments: 9972
191. sandcrab39565
2:08 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
I just looked at Duriun on the sattelite it is definately getting stronger.
Member Since: June 25, 2006 Posts: 36 Comments: 9972
189. sandcrab39565
2:07 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
Godd morning Rand
Member Since: June 25, 2006 Posts: 36 Comments: 9972
188. sandcrab39565
2:06 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
Good morning Pat
Member Since: June 25, 2006 Posts: 36 Comments: 9972
186. hurricane23
2:05 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
Good morning,

Takeing a look at Durian this morning and its winds are up to 145mph!with the central pressure at 904mb.


Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13846
185. sandcrab39565
2:03 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
Thanks for the update please keep us posted.
Member Since: June 25, 2006 Posts: 36 Comments: 9972
183. aspiringstat
2:00 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
Yeah. Evacuation in the areas of:

Southern Luzon
Metro Manila
Central Luzon
Eastern Visayas

Right now the Philippines is on hightened alert for possible flashfloods, mudslides and storm surges.

Government Offices and Schools were already cancelled late afternoon.

PHILIPPINE STORM SIGNAL # FOUR (4)
Now In Effect: CATANDUANES.


PHILIPPINE STORM SIGNAL # THREE (3)
Now In Effect: ALBAY, CAMARINES PROVINCES & POLILLO ISLAND.


PHILIPPINE STORM WARNING SIGNAL # TWO (2)
Now In Effect: SORSOGON, BURIAS IS., QUEZON, AURORA & NORTHERN SAMAR

PHILIPPINE STORM WARNING SIGNAL # ONE (1)
Now In Effect: REST OF SAMAR, ISABELA, QUIRINO, NUEVA VIZCAYA, NUEVA ECIJA, BULACAN, PAMPANGA, TARLAC, PANGASINAN, ZAMBALES, BATAAN, CAVITE, RIZAL, LAGUNA, BATANGAS, ROMBLON, BILIRAN, MASBATE, MARINDUQUE, MINDORO ORIENTAL, LUBANG IS. & METRO MANILA

as of 5 pm
180. aspiringstat
1:52 PM GMT on November 29, 2006
Typhoon 2000 Active track

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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.

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