Search for Missing Airliner Resumes as Weather Improves

By Eric Leister, Meteorologist
March 26, 2014; 5:18 AM ET
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A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force P-3C Orion takes off from the Royal Australian Air Force Pearce Base to commence a search for possible debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. (AP Photo/Paul Kane, Pool)

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak stated on Monday that new satellite analysis shows the missing airliner plunged into the southern Indian Ocean, although there has been no official confirmation of this information.

Reports of additional debris being spotted in the southern Indian Ocean have also led to an increase in resources being sent to the search area, which is more than 1,000 miles southwest of Perth, Australia.

Reports on Monday indicated that both Chinese and Australia aircraft had spotted areas of large debris, while a French satellite reported possible debris several hundred miles north of the current search area, according to the Associated Press.

A potent frontal boundary moved into the search area on Tuesday leading to gale-force winds and rough seas that forced the multinational search to suspend operations until the weather cleared.

The above satellite image shows a large area of clouds well to the southwest of Australia associated with the adverse weather that suspended search efforts on Tuesday. Image courtesy of the Australia Bureau of Meteorology.

The front pushed to the northeast allowing conditions to improve during the day on Wednesday, and although seas remained rough the search was able to resume.

Unsettled weather will return to much of the search area by Thursday and Friday as an area of low pressure and an associated frontal boundary pass through the region. Conditions could again result in suspension of search efforts due to rain, wind and rough seas.

A longer stretch of dry and more tranquil weather is possible this weekend as high pressure builds over the search area.

Image depicting location areas searched thus far for debris from Flight 370. Courtesy of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

According to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, 12 aircraft were involved in the search on Wednesday as weather conditions improved. Several Chinese ships also arrived in the search area on Wednesday to assist in the search efforts.

Complex ocean currents may also play a role in search efforts as several areas of debris spotted by aircraft have yet to be confirmed by any ships arriving in the vicinity.

The recent unsettled weather in the region could also result in debris shifting farther away from where it was spotted by air on Monday, making recovery efforts more difficult.

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