With the news that two objects were spotted on satellite in the southern Indian Ocean southwest of Australia, the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 has intensified in that region. Poor weather and ocean currents may cause difficulties for authorities as they search for confirmation that the objects came from the missing jet.
Early on Thursday morning, Eastern Daylight Time, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority released satellite images showing two objects floating on the water about 1,550 miles southwest of Perth, Australia. The images were taken on Sunday, March 16.
According to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, four aircraft were involved in the search, which spanned a 23,000-square km area (14,291 miles) about 2,500 km (1,553 miles) southwest of Perth, Australia, on Thursday.
Image depicting location of the possible debris from Flight 370 and the possible flight path of the plane. Courtesy of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
While it has not been confirmed that these objects are from Flight 370, the area does mesh well with the possible flight path of the plane detailed by the National Transportation Safety Board. Planes are searching the ocean trying to confirm the origin of these objects.
However, the weather and complex ocean currents may hamper the efforts of those searching for the missing airliner.
A front located nearby spread rain and clouds across the area Thursday. Australian authorities have already noted that limited visibility, caused by rain and clouds, has slowed the effort as reported by CNN.
On Friday, rain and gusty winds in Perth delayed the flight of several search and rescue planes.
The area of clouds well southwest of the southwestern tip of Australian resulted in poor search conditions for planes searching the region on Thursday and Friday. Image courtesy of the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia.
While there may be a brief break from the weather into the early part of the weekend as high pressure builds into the region, it is likely to turn stormy again by next week.
"We are getting to the time of year where the windows for calm weather in this area of the world get shorter and shorter as the seasons turn to fall and then winter," noted AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Eric Wanenchak.
Image above depicts the broad ocean currents near Australia. Image courtesy of the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia.
Another challenge facing authorities is how far pieces of the plane could have drifted if it indeed crashed almost two weeks ago. Ocean currents and wind can transport objects many miles.
The West Australian Current flows northward well off the west coast of the continent and is the closest broad current to the location of possible airplane debris. However, numerous eddies in the area make matters more complex.
"Embedded in overall broad ocean current are small eddies that create turbulence and make it complicated to track the flow of potential debris," stated AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
Numerous eddies of turbulence are located near where the debris was spotted (roughly near the green circle). See inset on bottom right for location reference. Image courtesy of Earth
While finding debris in an area close to the potential flight path of the plane is a positive step, it is still possible that this latest discovery is just another false alarm. Large amounts of trash and big pieces of debris are found in oceans across the globe.
Meteorologist Eric Leister contributed to this story.
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