Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Flying over hurricanes

Hurricane Irene is about to reach the Bahamas. This is a satellite picture (current as of AUG 23rd 09:39pm ET)

I was curious about current passenger airplane pathlines across this hurricane. I wanted to see if there was a significant deviation from a regular (loxodromic) path. Turns out that there isn't, as this picture shows for the flight from American Airlines (Boeing 737-800 AAL 1555), scheduled from Miami Intl (MIA) to Luis Muñoz Marín (SJU), retrieved also at the same time of the previous screenshot:

What is intriguing is that even though airplanes can fly above the hurricane, there are unusually high clouds associated with hurricanes (namely Hot towers, pic below) that can protrude from the troposphere.

I don't know Aeronautical Meteorology, but I would not be comfortable on that plane.

Edit: Introverted intuition at its best.

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