The National Weather Service Tells Us All About Turbulence - News, Sports and Weather

The National Weather Service Tells Us All About Turbulence

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Turbulence caused major problems for more than a hundred people flying over Montana.

The United Airway's 7-37 was making its way over from Denver to Billings, when it suddenly dropped. Out of the 119 people on board, 5 were injured, including 3 flight attendants, one of which cracked the roof when they hit the ceiling.

Luckily no deaths were caused on this flight, but the incident is stirring a lot of questions, like how does turbulence occur, how is it avoided, and most importantly, how deadly is it?

Turbulence occurs when the direction of the wind changes. One of the most likely kinds we will find here in Montana is known as mountain wave turbulence. This is when air runs into a mountain range, and gets pushed over the top.

Chris Foltz, from the National Weather Service says, "It creates these up and down areas in the eastern side of the mountain range, where those areas are, where that air is rising and sinking, is where you can see turbulence."

The thunderstorms we see here in the summer also create turbulence, because its causes a similar type of rising and sinking winds. Most of the time these don't pose a problem, but the stronger the pattern, the more problems that can occur.

To avoid these dangerous pockets, Foltz says their Aviation Weather Center puts together turbulence forecasts for the entire country, but pilots mainly rely on each other to warn them on their location.

While this is a great method for establishing the general area of turbulence, one thing that has yet to be invented is a way to determine its severity. Which lets be honest, seems pretty scary, but statistics show that flying is still very safe. On average, its only 32 people who are injured each year, 2/3 of which are part of the crew.

To stay as safe as possible when you fly, authorities say the easiest thing for you to do is to stay buckled up. Because while we wish you smooth sailing, you never know when you will get a bumpy ride.

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