Dec 23, 2009

Jamaican Plane Crash & Winter Weather

The deep subtropical trough that I mentioned in yesterday's post is responsible for the powerful storms in the Caribbean that are the likely cause of a plane crash in Kingston, Jamaica last night. The crash occurred at 322Z (10:22PM local time) in heavy rain and with a ceiling of 1,400 feet (details here). The following satellite images are from 315Z and 345Z (7 minutes before and 23 minutes after the crash).Water vapor images for the same times:Although the heaviest storms and coldest cloudtops do not appear to be over the exact location of the crash, there are some storms backbuilding across southeast Jamaica between 3 and 4Z. This can be seen more easily in color enhanced images:Close-up of 3Z:
Close-up of 4Z:
Rain was not reported at the airport until 1Z, and heavy rain not until 3Z. Wind was from the northwest at 8 knots at 3Z, but increased to 14 by 4Z. Even more telling, visibility was 5 km at 228Z, 3 km at 300Z, and 1.5 km by400Z. It is easy to see how a crash could have occurred under such rapidly deteriorating conditions. Here is the last useful visible image from yesterday.This is all a result of a large upper trough extending down into Central America.A surface trough of 1008 mb develops about 100 miles southeast of Jamaica by 6Z.Meanwhile, another incredible storm has almost all of the Plains and upper Mississippi Valley under a winter storm warning (pink), areas near Chicago an ice storm warning (purple), and the deep south under tornado watches and warnings (yellow and red), and it is only getting started.And Europe also continues to get almost nonstop brutal winter weather including temperatures to -20C in Poland, -33C in Germany, crippling snowstorms in Moscow, and unusual heavy snow in Milan, Italy. See more here.

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