Meteorology: Signs in a Clear Sky

It strikes with the swift, clawed fury of a pouncing cat—and jet pilots call it by that name. CAT (for clear air turbulence) can swat a jetliner down a mile in a minute flat, paste passengers to the ceiling, and rip the wings from light planes. Many CAT victims go uncounted because up to now CAT has been invisible.

Clear air turbulence often occurs where two air masses, moving in opposite directions, grind together. Unlike storm fronts, which present a large, moist target for regular storm-tracking radars, this abrupt change of wind direction,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!