QZ8501: A Preliminary Meteorological Analysis

Tim Vasquez served in the USAF from 1989 to 1998. During his service, his meteorological duties progressed from weather observer to weather forecaster to weather programmer. He is the owner of Weather Graphics, a firm based in Oklahoma City that specializes in meteorological software, forecasting textbooks, data services, and consulting & training.

Here is a preliminary analysis Mr. Vasquez did to assess the potential for weather issues in the disappearance of QZ8501. The analysis suggests a higher potential for clear (and rapid) ice accumulation at the cruise altitude, 32,000 feet MSL. The infrared image below reflects conditions eight minutes after the last contact with the flight. Look closely at the graphic and you will see the thin blue outline of Pulau Belitung, due west of the estimated incident location.

(click on image to view original meteorological analysis at 'Weather Graphics.)

(click on image to view original meteorological analysis at ‘Weather Graphics.)