Bermuda Triangle Mystery Solved? Probably Not, Say Scientists

Darien Cavanaugh

Has the Bermuda Triangle mystery been solved? The New York Post recently reported that the unusual number of planes and boats that disappear in the troubled patch of water may be caused by "air bursts" with wind forces of up 170 mph that result from hexagonal cloud patterns that form in the area.

That story went viral, stirring the imagination of those who have long wondered about the strange stories inspired by the Bermuda Triangle. Now scientists are saying, "Not so fast." Apparently there are several holes in the theory about the air bursts.

— Planet Green (@PlanetGreen) October 22, 2016

"The satellite imagery is really bizarre…the hexagonal shapes of the cloud formations," Arizona State University meteorologist Randy Cerveny said, according to the Post.

"These types of hexagonal shapes in the ocean are in essence air bombs. They're formed by what is called microbursts and they're blasts of air," Cerveny continued.

As mentioned above, according to Cerveny, these blasts of air can create hurricane-force winds of up to 170 mph. Such powerful winds could disrupt the travel of boats and planes, causing them crash or sink. That would account for the reports of unusual numbers of ships and aircraft that have supposedly gone missing in the Bermuda Triangle for centuries.

One problem with that theory is that for the hexagonal clouds and air bursts to account for the missing craft in the Bermuda Triangle, those phenomena would have to be isolated in that area. They're not.

According to a follow up report published by USA Today, the hexagonal cloud formations are "not uncommon."

"These open and closed cells occur when cold, dry air mixes over warm water," USA Today reports. "The patterns are usually spotted over the mid-North Atlantic and the North Pacific during late fall to early spring."

The Post had relied primarily on quotes from Cerveny's appearance in a recent episode of the Science Channel's What on Earth series to make their case for the Bermuda Triangle mystery being solved. However, in that same video, Colorado State University satellite meteorologist Steven Miller countered Cerveny's assessment. He suggests that if the hexagonal clouds were to blame, then the same level of incidents that contribute to the Bermuda Triangle mystery should reoccur wherever those clouds are present.

"It is a common phenomenon occurring globally — most generally found at mid- to high latitude locations over the oceans, and usually during the cold season," Miller said.

Cerveny himself was caught off guard by how the Post used his quotes, USA Today reports. He acknowledged he "hasn't done any original work on this topic and was speculating the weather pattern might be explained by concentrated downbursts of air from decaying thunderstorms," USA Today explains.

"They made it appear as if I was making a big breakthrough or something," Cerveny told USA Today. "Sadly [that's] not the case."

— Complex (@ComplexMag) October 21, 2016

Strange reports coming out of the Bermuda Triangle date back to Christopher Columbus noting his compass malfunctioning there during his 1492 voyage, an article in Gizmodo explains. Rumors of unusual ship disappearances gained popular appeal centuries later, during the 1950s and 60s.

However, much of the history is nothing more than hype, according to Gizmodo, which cites Larry Kusche's 1975 book, The Bermuda Triangle Mystery: Solved.

According to Kusche, many of the journalists who talked up the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle used bad research or simply exaggerated or even made up stories.

"After extensively researching the issue, Kusche concluded that the number of disappearances that occurred within the Bermuda Triangle wasn't actually greater than in any other similarly trafficked area of the ocean, and that other writers presented misinformation — such as not reporting storms that occurred on the same day as disappearances, and sometimes even making it seem as though the conditions had been calm for the purposes of creating a sensational story," Gizmodo reports. "In short: previous Bermuda Triangle authors didn't do their research and either knowingly or unintentionally 'made it up.'"

In other words, the Bermuda Triangle mystery may have been solved only in the sense that it was never a mystery to begin with.

[Featured Image by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images]