"These storms go up and down at a fairly rapid rate, and so they can develop in the course of minutes," Reeves said. "They don't take hours or even days to develop. And they can diminish in the course of minutes as well. That makes the decision of the pilot ever so difficult determining whether to go around or through."
Reeves added, "Once you make that decision, unfortunately, many times you're committed, because you cannot turn back around because the storm may develop in front of you and behind you as well and you're kind of caught in the middle with nowhere to go but straight forward."
On Monday night a crew from TAM, Brazil's largest air carrier, said it saw orange spots on the ocean while flying over the same general area as Air France Flight 447.
On Tuesday searchers found an oil slick and debris from the plane floating in the Atlantic.
That plane was allowed to take off for Paris after an inspection. There was no known threat against the flight that took off four days later from Rio, then vanished.
Passengers on the plane came from more than 30 countries. Sixty-one French citizens, 58 Brazilians and three Americans were among those onboard, and all 12 crew members were French, according to the airline.
For now, the mystery as to what happened to them onboard remains.
"If you didn't know the Titanic hit an iceberg, and you just went down and looked at the debris that was on the bottom of the ocean, you would have never guessed it was an iceberg," Ballard said. "Because the iceberg did minor damage to the Titanic. It was the sinking process and the pressure on the way down that did most of the destruction."
ABC News' Renata Araujo, Sonia Gallego, Joe Goldman, Christel Kucharz, Luis Martinez, Phoebe Natanson, Gabriel O'Rorke, Samira Parkinson-Smith, Kirit Radia and Christophe Schpoliansky, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.