6.3 Meteorological conditions contributing the crash of a Boeing 737 at DIA

Tuesday, 31 August 2010: 11:00 AM
Alpine Ballroom A (Resort at Squaw Creek)
T. L. Keller, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and W. D. Hall, S. B. Trier, L. B. Cornman, and R. D. Sharman

On 20 December 2008 a Boeing 737 aircraft encountered a significant crosswind gust during takeoff roll, causing it to veer off the side of northbound runway 34R at Denver International Airport (DIA). All passengers were able to escape before the plane burst into flames. Data from wind sensors at DIA showed an area of high wind speeds and gustiness near the center of the airport around the time of the accident. Also, numerous aircraft reported both moderate to severe turbulence and the presence of mountain wave activity over the Rocky Mountains.

Results from a high resolution simulation using the Clark-Hall nonhydrostatic, terrain following numerical model indicate that the surface gustiness at DIA is associated with amplification of lee waves within a stable layer 3 km above the airport. Model results and meteorological conditions, including similarities and differences from the well-known severe downslope windstorms, will be discussed.

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