Search Continues for Missing Malaysian Plane Amid Moderate Swells

By , Senior Meteorologist
March 11, 2014; 8:57 AM ET
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The main weather concern to search crews through Wednesday in the vicinity of where the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 lost contact will continue to be moderate swells as largely dry weather will prevail through the middle of the week.

The search continues for Flight MH370, which went missing early Saturday morning local time (Friday afternoon EST) en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China.

Search crews from multiple nations are focusing their efforts on the South China Sea, The Associated Press reports.

The last known position of MH370 was offshore of northern Malaysia at 2:40 a.m., Saturday local time, according to an official statement from Malaysia Airlines.

The search will benefit from a lack of rain and thunderstorms as unusually dry weather persists across the southern South China Sea and the neighboring Gulf of Thailand.

"The Malay Peninsula [home to Malaysia] has been in the midst of a severe drought since the beginning of the year," stated AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Anthony Sagliani.

Typically this time of year, the monsoon is leading to daily rounds of showers and thunderstorms.

However, AccuWeather.com meteorologists are expect moderate seas to continue through midweek with a stiff northeasterly breeze in place. Wave heights may reach heights of 1 to 2 meters (3 to 6 feet) across the search area.

RELATED:
Malaysia Weather Center
South China Sea Satellite Page
First Word of Malaysia Airlines Plane Going Missing

Farther to the north along the scheduled path of MH370, spotty showers and thunderstorms will continue to dampen places from northern Vietnam to southeastern China.

Skies were mainly clear across the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand when MH370's last known position was recorded. Lightning detection maps obtained by AccuWeather.com indicate the area was free of thunderstorms.

According to AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Alan Reppert, there was some light rain and snow falling over South and Central China at the time the plane went missing.

However, Reppert stated that any precipitation that would have formed would have been well below the flight level at around 15,000 feet.

The plane reached an altitude of 35,000 feet, according to Flightaware.com.

Vietnamese air force planes spotted two large oil slicks off the southern tip of Vietnam late Saturday, The AP reported, citing a statement from the Vietnamese government.

That statement reportedly said that the oil slicks were consistent with the kinds that would be produced by the two fuel tanks of a crashed jetliner, but there has not been confirmation that the slicks are related to the missing plane.

A total of 239 people were aboard the plane. The passenger manifest released by Malaysia Airlines indicates that five children, aged 4 and under, are among the 227 passengers.

Freescale Semiconductor of Austin, Texas, confirmed that 20 of its employees were passengers on Flight MH370. Twelve are from Malaysia and eight are from China.

"At present, we are solely focused on our employees and their families," Freescale President and CEO Gregg Lowe said in a news release. "Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this tragic event."

Malaysia Airlines states that the sea search and air missions will continue.

The 777-200 is one of six models, five passenger and one freighter, of the 777 built by Boeing. It carries 305 passengers with a range up to 5,240 nautical miles (9,700 km), according to the Boeing website.

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