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LONDON — Powerful storms littered the flight path of the AirAsia passenger plane that went missing with 162 aboard on Sunday, according to forecasters. Flight QZ8501 lost contact with air traffic control after requesting permission to change course due to weather.

While there is no clear indication of what happened to the jet and what caused its disappearance, Michael Palmer — lead forecaster at The Weather Channel — said "there were numerous showers and hail throughout the Java Sea and the flight path.”

The large clusters of thunderstorms, some as tall as 50,000 feet, would have forced a pilot to change course, he added. The flight “could have run into turbulence and hail. We don’t know if it was the cause but certainly the weather was not calm,” Palmer added.


— F. Brinley Bruton