On This Date in History: I bet you didn’t know that there have been numerous “Broken Arrow” incidents. (check all of them out here) “Broken Arrow” is the term used when a nuclear weapon is has been launched without authorization or the non-nuclear detonation of a nuclear weapon that produces radiation. During the cold war, the US routinely had bombers in the air, 24-7, 365 all around the world as part of its nuclear deterrent. Yes, these planes were carrying nuclear weapons. Now, as a safety precaution, the bombs have to armed in flight but the detonator used to explode the weapon is a fairly sizeable explosive. So, if a plane somehow inadvertantly dropped an unarmed weapon, the detonator would go off and the bomb would get ripped open, exposing the radioactive material and often dispersing it over a wide area.
The Pentagon admits to at least 3 dozen incidents in which a bomb was dropped, a plane caught fire on the runway or there was a crash involving a plane carrying a nuclear weapon. For security reasons, the incidents are rarely made public and its possible that US citizens have been unknowingly exposed to radioactivity as a result of an accident since the majority of the accidents have happened on US soil. But, at least one did not.
On this date in 1966, A B-52 carrying four Hydrogen bombs was off the southern European coast on its way back to its base in North Carolina. It was a routine mission and they were routinely hooking up with a KC 135 tanker for an in-flight refueling. But, something happened and the big bomber ran into the fuel boom from the tanker. The B-52 got ripped open and the KC 135 exploded, killing all of the crew. The crew of the bomber
successfully ejected but the plane went down. Two of the bombs fell and exploded on impact near the Spanish town of Palomares. The result was a couple of huge craters and plutonium being showered all over the town. A third bomb landed in a field but did not explode. The fourth fell into the ocean. Now some 2000 US personnel came to the scene and used precautions against being exposed to radiation for too long as they took to the task of cleaning up. But, the Spanish personnel that showed up didn’t take such precautions. Eventually, the US paid about 500 claims for th effect of the plutonium and other little inconveniences and 1400 tons of contaminated vegetation and soil was removed to the United States for disposal. It took them awhile, but eventually they found the missing bomb in the ocean.
So, have we any unaccounted for nuclear weapons? Of course we do and their in US coastal waters, though no one knows exactly where. There are two hydrogen bombs and one uranium core lying in the swampland near Goldboro, NC, the Pugent Sound in Washington and in Wassaw Sound off the Georgia coast. Deep sea fishermen beware…you may end up with the catch of the day if you’re not careful.
Weather Bottom Line: The past 12 months have been something else. The catalytic converter on my car fell off after hitting a pothole. Snow White and I house sat at my sister in laws during the hottest week of the year. The air conditioner went out, one of the dogs died and the goat and the donkey broke through a fence. When we got home, our water heater went out. My father in law has been in the hospital twice, the microwave blew up, the kitchen caught on fire and then I found myself without a job. Two days later they found a gas leak and turned off my gas so there was no heat or hot water. Now, my heater has died. It’s a weekend and no one can get me a new heater until next week. And we’re going to the single digits again for Saturday morning. Not much help on Saturday but we do get to the mid to upper 30’s in advance of another short wave coming through the flow. We get light snow showers or flurries on Sunday and Monday but probably don’t get back to above freezing until Tuesday before the 40’s return on Wednesday. Hope your weekend is better than mine. Oh…by the way…I told you a week ago to expect some temperatures below zero. As it turns out, everyone was below zero with the warm spot in Campbellsville at zero.