(EMAILWIRE.COM, June 05, 2009 ) State College, Pa. -- AccuWeather.com reports the latest information indicates that flight 447 encountered severe turbulence in explosive thunderstorms prior to the catastrophic chain of events. Because of the lift generated by the wings, airplanes want to fly and stay airborne; so for an airplane to crash, a chain of events has to occur to interrupt that lift.
The latest data shows that flight 447 was entering an area of explosive thunderstorm development. Satellite analysis and upper air data would suggest that updrafts in the thunderstorm were on the order of 100 mph. In addition, upper-level winds were light, and that would allow for strong updrafts to occur that were not impeded by horizontal winds. Flight 447 would have been like a rock going over 500 mph, skipping along the water and being forced up until the next skip.
Flight 447 encountered two thunderstorms prior to the crash. The first storm was south of the main cluster, and flight 447 would have been hit by moderate to severe turbulence from that storm. A few minutes later, flight 447 entered the main cluster of explosive thunderstorms and was hit by severe turbulence. At this point, the updrafts and downdrafts would have been hitting the airplane from below and above. The severe turbulence may have started a chain of events that ultimately led to the crash of the plane.
While lightning may have been occurring at the top of the storm cluster, the turbulence would have been the greater of the two weather factors that started the events. It is possible that lightning did strike the airplane during the severe turbulence given the storms were towering to 50,000 feet.
Based on satellite information, the Air France flight had little chance of going around the storms given that they stretched for over 400 miles and were developing along the flight path. The airplane was flying at cruising altitude of 35,000 feet. With the updrafts pushing the storms up to 50,000 feet, the plane had to fly through the storms and not over them.
Story by AccuWeather.com Meteorologists Henry Margusity
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