"Clear Air" Turbulence

While I was in Orlando, a United Airlines 777 was reported to have “encountered clear air turbulence” over “Kansas.” Because I am a meteorologist from Kansas, many, many people have asked me about it.

I’ve now done a little checking and,

  1. The plane was over Missouri, not Kansas.
  2. It almost certainly was not in “clear air.” 
There is a fairly detailed article about the encounter at AvHerald.com from which the image below was taken:
Above is a GOES weather satellite infrared satellite image from the route of flight. Assuming the Herald has the time and location correct, the plane was not in “clear air.” It was flying in the expanding anvil of a thunderstorm which is a well known location for turbulence. If you’d like more information about anvils and turbulence, go here. Severe “clear air” turbulence is quite infrequent in the U.S. in July. 
That said, always keep your seat belt on when you are in your seat!

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