National Geographic : 1950 Oct
556 U. S . Department of Defense Typhoon Seas Roll the U. S. Light Cruiser Santa Fe Almost on Her Beam Ends Six-inch guns of her forward turret, turned to the port side, point upward nearly to a 45-degree angle as she swings far over to starboard in a storm in the South China Sea. Screaming winds lash the sea surface to foam. Life net floats are lashed to the tops of the gun turrets to keep them from going overboard or flying about, though normally they are left unsecured, ready to float free if the vessel sinks. Pacific war. In June, 1945, a typhoon, with brutal strength, ripped the bow clean off the heavy cruiser Pittsburgh. Guam is headquarters for Pacific typhoon analysis. Both Air Force and Navy aircraft fly out from there on storm-study sweeps. Okinawa was the victim of a terrible ty phoon on July 23, 1949. "Gloria," as it was called, raked the island with 175-mph winds. Despite ample warning by the Air Weather Service, the storm inflicted multimillion-dollar damage. "Quonset-type structures were crushed like matchboxes and carried away like straws," said an official report. "Their corrugated roofs rippled like flags." A cook at Kadena Air Force Base hurried into a large walk-in refrigerator when things got too hot. "It was the safest place I could think of at the time," he said. "The building blew away, but the reefer stayed." "To obtain upper-air data vital to hurri- cane study," Captain Ellsaesser told me, "ob serving stations use pilot balloons, rawin, and radiosonde. Pilot balloons are watched through a theodolite to reveal speed and direc tion of the upper winds. Rawin does the same job to greater altitudes and even through clouds by tracking the balloons by radar. "Radiosondes are small balloon-borne trans mitters that send back radio signals to a ground receiver, giving temperature, baro metric pressure, and relative humidity at higher levels in the atmosphere. "Now we're experimenting with drop sondes," Ellsaesser continued. "These are small transmitters released by parachute from high-flying aircraft. They relay to the plane the same readings as the radiosonde."* But radar, I learned, is the darling of the hurricane hunters. * See "Weather Fights and Works for Man," by F. Barrows Colton, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, December, 1943.