View Full Version : Now this is a storm

23rd Jun 2001, 19:55

Feel free to go to the following link-

www.9news.com (http://www.9news.com)

and read about a hailstorm at DIA (Denver) which caused United to take 78 planes out of service due to hail damage. 19 of them will be out of service for at least 2 weeks.

24th Jun 2001, 03:25
Yup, they sure get weather in that part of the world. I got the biggest shaking up of my entire flying career in the vicinity. The flight engineer, with huge aplomb commented "Well Skip, I'll follow you anywhere now, but only out of curiosity!" The first officer and myself were still ashen and speechless...

Electric Sky
24th Jun 2001, 19:43
Washington got a rather large storm as well on Friday night. There were even reports of a tornado in the vicinity. Caused first cancellation for bmi's IAD-MAN service as well as cancellations from United and BA.

Captain Airclues
24th Jun 2001, 20:04
I can't see anything about a storm on your link.


24th Jun 2001, 23:38
On the subject of USA wx, what do you guys do when heading down south into Tornado Alley in the wrong season? Ive seen documentarys on tornados and the huge unbroken areas of massive wx (esp down Oklahoma way) and it looks bloodey frightening! And these systems dont seem to have any real breaks in order to dodge around the worst of it.
If for example there is a large area of extreme tornado-laden wx surrounding (but not actualy at) your destination, do you delay departure, hold in clear air somewhere enroute, or just bash on through it?

pax domina
25th Jun 2001, 01:57
I couldn't even find a hail story (as opposed to "what causes hail?") when I searched the 9News site.

Slasher, I don't pretend to be a professional, but in the pax experience of myself and my parents (and, being a bit geek-like about weather, we check the weather here, there and in between before leaving for the airport) our experience has been that the departure is delayed.

My parents most recent flight "up north" on Midwest Express was delayed for just this reason. As I was driving them to the airport, mum remarked at the large patch of nasty weather between Florida and Wisconsin, and how she hoped that the people in the front of the aircraft knew what they were doing. When they finally boarded, mum took a quick peek in the flight deck. When she got to her seat she told my dad, "They're just a couple of kids up there!" :) (NB - she's 65 and "kids" could be anyone under 45! :) )

After the "weather" passed through the area, the midwest was blanketed with a thick fog - MKE and several alternates were "out", and they ended up having to make a refueling stop in Fort Wayne, Indiana (FWA, I believe).

pax d - narcissistic, short-sighted, ill-bred moron

25th Jun 2001, 08:34
Hello Slasher,
Some days you have to use a combination of those techniques, and others you just end up taking the scenic route to avoid the weather all together, usually it isn't too bad, except those darn lines of weather you mentioned, and those are the days that can make you wish you'd stayed home in bed.


25th Jun 2001, 10:54
Got a taste of Texas weather once. Flying LA - Dallas - Chicago (as a passenger), Dallas was under some godawful storm which shut down the airport, so we spent about 90 minutes holding and avoiding the weather until they reopened. We were told that we were going to divert back to the west if it didn't clear up. It kind of did, but it was a pretty rough landing - and lots of lightning all over the place. Spectacular, but http://www.pprune.org/ubb/NonCGI/eek.gif

Connecting flight to Chicago was delayed due to that aeroplane being struck by lightning while on finals. Once we finally got out on the taxiway they shut the airport again. Sat there in the middle of a spectacular electrical storm. Eventually made it back to Chicago about 5 hours late, but we were lucky - the whole place was shut down again 20 minutes after we left. One of those fun trips :)

25th Jun 2001, 15:01
Last Sat (23rd) Miami was closed for a short time when a thunderstorm that was passing over lingered a bit too long.

This caused the inbound BA and Virgin flts from London to divert to Orlando, resulting in a 3 hour delay of BA206 later that evening.

old pick it her
25th Jun 2001, 15:45

One of the best meteorological resources, provided by the US private sector of the economy and for those whom fly for sub majors where there is likely to be a dearth of good information provided, is The Weather Channel!

Most hotels have it on their cable system and with the low cost of Satellite Dish Receivers today most homeowners also have access.

There are several times in my memory where the Weather Channel warned of high thunderstorm probability and depicted same graphically on their detailed maps that became absolutely correct! They were so correct that only 90 minutes after passing through uninhibited that the return leg necessitated a 150 mile detour to the west!!

Oh, come to think of it even the big guys use the Weather Channel as a friend, Captain at American, watches it religiously before every flying day.

26th Jun 2001, 00:54
the kind of weather being talked about, is not "bash on through" type.

26th Jun 2001, 21:00
Slasher, a good question. I can pretty well give you a good answer. I have been flying out of the heart of tornado alley for over 35 years, based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The period with the maximum number of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes is between April and early June. Oklahoma can have thunderstorms and tornadoes all year long, of course in the winter they are rare. One very unusual weather occurrence that can happen in Oklahoma is a thunder-snow-storm. Heavy snow with high winds, lighting and thunder, the tops of the storms will exceed 35,000 feet. They are rare, but they will get your attention.

Now, as for flying with these monsters. Basically you don't, you fly around them and sometimes over them, however I try not to fly over them unless I really have to. Sometimes the tops of these storms will exceed 50,000 feet and I have on occasion flown around some storms that have topped 70,000 feet (a little over the ceiling of the B-727). The best advice is to carry a lot of extra fuel, if you can. The good thing about thing about the air mass style storms is that they move fairly fast (around 30 to 40 kts) and don't last long, so if there is one over the airport it won't be there long, but there is always the exception. In the spring we can get some hellious squall lines associated with rapid moving cold fronts that will produce massive thunderstorms with multiple tornadoes. When this occurs you try to get off the ground ahead of the line if trying to takeoff and when landing try to land ahead of them or after the line has moved through. If you're en-route sometimes you have deviate 200 or 300 miles.

I'm not going to get into war stories, but many years ago when I was a young FO (so many years age we were called co-pilots) I had three different captains one summer fly right into the sides of these mothers. Twice because the radar was out and the other captain just didn't believe the radar. We had some really wild rides, let me tell you.

One personal story. Last May Oklahoma City was hit by the strongest tornado ever recorded. It was an F-6+, winds in excess of 260mph, the highest winds of this particular tornado were clocked at 305mph. At one point the base of the tornado was over a mile and a half wide. I was landing at an airport that is on the west side of Oklahoma City at the same time the tornado was destroying my mother's house 25 miles east of the airport. She had a three story brick house and after the tornado hit the house it was totally destroyed except for one room on the southwest corner of the house. The neighborhood was totally destroyed, not one structure was left standing. The only things that were left of most of the houses were the foundations. Five people were killed just in this neighborhood. She was not hurt, but was very shaken up as you can imagine. By the way, the weather at the airport where I landed was clear with light winds out of the south. The tops of this storm were around 65,000 feet, if I remember correctly.

The bottom line about these monster storms in U.S. mid-west is;

1. Don't fly though them, there is a good chance you won't come out the other side.
2. Carry a lot of fuel for holding or diverting.
3. Expect long ground delays.
4. Be prepared to cancel the flight.
5. Take wind shear warnings very, very seriously. (I landed at KDFW shortly after the Delta L-1011 crashed, a very sobering sight. I also feel that water storage tanks locations were responsible for most of the fatalities, but that is for another thread.)
6. Don't fly under them unless they have high bases. Things like hail and tornadoes can drop out of the bottom and ruin you whole day.
7. Trust the radar. If the radar is out, don't go unless the entire trip can be flown visually clear of clouds.

Well that's enough. I could go on and on about the thunderstorms that form on leeward side of the Rocky Mountains every damn afternoon in the summer, but I'll leave that to someone else. Yeah, you can get the crap kicked out of you flying in and out of Denver Co. KDEN in the summer.

Take care.

27th Jun 2001, 00:04
Interesting bit about how high that weather goes, con-pilot. In my one view of Texas weather the clouds we were busy diverting around went waaaay above the level we were flying at - at the time I'd have guessed we were at FL200-300 (hard to tell as a passenger, but I'd go for closer to FL300), and I'd have said that it was going at least 10,000 feet higher. However I'd figured at the time that the clouds couldn't be hitting 40k feet or more. Maybe they were. For a good ol' Southern (England) boy that was pretty nasty weather - here more than an inch of rain at a time brings the place to a halt after all. Sounds like it gets a good deal worse though.... http://www.pprune.org/ubb/NonCGI/eek.gif

Interesting post. Thanks! :)

Capn Lucky
27th Jun 2001, 06:21
It has been said that if one were to obey the FAR's then we wouldn't fly during the summer in Florida. I held 50 miles out on the VKZ 180 for 45 minutes while waiting to get into FLL on Monday... it was a normal day here.

Flap 5
27th Jun 2001, 12:03
And you guys keep telling us about how bad our weather is in Britain - what a nerve!

Doors to Automatic
27th Jun 2001, 12:51

Fascinating thread answering many of the questions I had.

A couple of weeks ago I was in the States watching the Weather Channel and there was a line of storms stretching all the way from Michigan to Alabama. The line was very thin (moving through any one location in 20-30 mins) but very intense and without any breaks. What do you do in this situation if flying, say from Washington to Chicago? Would you fly through the line or deviate 1000 miles south?

Also what do you do when flying through an area where there are lots of individual intense cells and avoiding them would involve an extremely circuitous routing? Would you take the avoiding routing even if it doubled/trebled your flight distance or would you avoid the area completely?

27th Jun 2001, 13:34
The thunderstorms in the Isle of Man (IOM) in the middle of the Irish Sea are very well behaved ...

Yesterday (26th) they had their first storm in several months and it was sitting over the airport (and my mother's house ten mins from it) for three hours. At check-in they anticipated a long delay.

The storm cleared to the north (we were going south to LTN) and we departed on schedule. Then the storm came back and squatted over the tower again.

You guys jus' gotta talk nicely to them storms an' you'll get away on time!!

A window seat on the sunny side of the aircraft, please!

Capn Lucky
27th Jun 2001, 15:30
There is one source of Wx better than the The Weather Channel, its the Discovery Wings Channel. 58 minutes after the hour gives a 2 minute brief of sigmets, airmets, winds aloft, a 12 prog and a current radar for the continental US.

See Ya

28th Jun 2001, 08:20
Our company had the DFW Delta L-1011 wind shear programmed into the simulator. IF you had an idea it was coming you could maybe keep the aircraft under some sort of control but if it caught you by surprise, not really. It was a sobering exercise.

28th Jun 2001, 08:55
Thanks for your informative reply con-pilot. Much apreciated. Here in Nam and the tropics we get some very nasty crap but nothing you would call deadly (except trying to take-off or land in typhoon wx).
If I remember correctley the worst weather occurs in the USA and China. Im currentley on a long charter within China so I know what you mean! Been thrashed around and spat out I dont know how many times already.

Ignition Override
28th Jun 2001, 09:31
For the passengers out there, many planes can only have so much extra fuel onboard. The interesting thing is that while including one category (alternate fuel) to get to an extra airport which might have storms very close by (as today-we picked other alternates as back-ups), the actual contingency fuel (not including "reserve fuel: this is sacred) is almost always only calculated (for 15,000') at around 15-30 minutes! Taxi+block (enroute burn)+reserve+contingency+alternate (not always needed) = dispatch fuel.

We could use a small extra fuel tank on many jets for legs much over one hour, but if the Captain decides to carry a bit more fuel, i.e. just an extra 1,000 lbs. at the last minute, so to speak, mail, bags and maybe a few people would have to be bumped off of the plane. And very often, people are already boarding by the time we get to all of the flight paperwork and realize that we will burn a good bit extra deviating around large storms! It was nasty in central Florida this afternoon, but ok near Fort Lauderdale (FLL) when we arrived.

Ignition Override
28th Jun 2001, 09:36
Captain Lucky and group-you might know about this site for quick looks at latest US radar summaries, and there are others. Why can't we have easy access to radar summaries at the many airports which are connected to our three hubs?

www.intellicast.com (http://www.intellicast.com)