In anticipation of the winter storm: a record jet stream accelerates air travel; Virgin Atlantic Flight 8 reaches 801 mph

On Monday night, the river of air at 35,000 feet above the New York City area, known as the jet stream, reached 231 mph. This is the fastest jet stream ever recorded for the National Weather Service in Upton, New York since 1957 – beating the old record of 223 mph, according to NWS forecaster Carlie Buccola.

This wind energized commercial passenger aircraft. With the help of this fast backwind, the Virgin Atlantic Flight 8 flight from Los Angeles to London has reached what could be a record speed for a Boeing 787: 801 mph over Pennsylvania at 9:20 pm. Monday evening.

"Wow, it's fast," a Boeing spokesperson told CBS News by email. But it's not something the aircraft manufacturer follows, so they can not confirm if 801 mph is a record.

"The typical cruising speed of the Dreamliner is 905 km / h," said Kris Van Cleave, correspondent for CBS News. "The previous record for 787 was 776 mph set in January 2017 by a Norwegian 787 flying from JFK to London Gatwick, which broke the record for fastest transatlantic subsonic flight – 5 hours and 13 minutes, thanks to at 202 mph wind direction. "

For reference, the speed of sound is 760 mph. but the plane did not cross the sound barrier. Indeed, some of the speed of the aircraft is attributed to the rapid displacement of 200 mph + air surrounding the aircraft. So, compared to the air that surrounds it, the speed of the plane is very short.

Jets like Mondays can have a big impact on flights.

"A 100-mph increase in jet-stream above normal can add or remove about an hour from a flight of five to six hours," said a spokesman for FlightAware, a global company software and data services for aviation based in Houston.

Although you may be pleasantly surprised by an early arrival to the east, you may experience delays to the west to counter the strong headwind. Although winds of this magnitude affect air travel, FlightAware stated that changes in upper-air winds were taken into account.

"Estimated winds of jet currents are factored into flight planning, and even before that, you will see longer block times in the west than in the east," says FlightAware.

In the interactive map above, created by Cameron Beccario, the intensity of the stream stream can be viewed (updated every three hours).

What is the cause of the jet stream record?

The record winds of jet currents were not limited to the New York area, they were a recurring theme throughout the northeastern part of the country due to the convergence of events.

It all started in the Pacific Ocean: not later than last week NOAA declared official El Niño in the tropical Pacific Ocean. El Niño is a warming of the temperature of the surface of the equatorial sea which can have repercussions to thousands of kilometers of distance. He is partly responsible for the recent bad weather in California last week.

"The last two weeks, the atmosphere was much more similar to that of El Niño because it associates with another natural climatic phenomenon known as MJO," said Dr. Adam Sobel, professor of applied physics at Lamont-Doherty Earth of Columbia University. Observatory. "The MJO is associated with thunderstorms and gusts of westerlies."

Due to this energy mix, two cyclones have formed in the central Pacific and all this activity is generating an exceptionally strong subtropical jets flow across Mexico and the southern United States.

At the same time, a vigorous polar jet in Alaska splits into two branches along the Pacific coast. One is heading east by the Great Lakes, while the other is heading south to California, then heading east into the valley. l & # 39; Ohio.

The final result is the three streams – with assistance from Polar Vortex – are merging in the northeast. This boosts a stream of jets by the way strong, in a record.

The confluence of events is much easier to understand by looking at the next illustration:

A look at the jet stream, Tuesday, February 19, 2019.

CBS News

The wet and energetic jet stream will remain in place throughout the weekend. As a result, dangerous floods are possible in parts of the Mississippi Valley and Tennessee with widespread rainfall potential in some areas.

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