Are we seeing a trend of aircraft disasters involving weather where the 'black boxes' are never found? Seems like a trend...
Adam Air 574.
This one crashed in stormy weather in the Far East and although a US Ship located the approximate position of the black boxes via pingers, they were never recovered. The cause has been chalked up to pilot error.
Air France 447.
Most believe this was another product of flying too close to thunderstorms, although it would help to have the boxes. Air France continues to pursue the hunt. Pilot error has to rank high on the list of probable causes.
This seemed like a weather crash at the time. The plane was making a right turn to line up with the runway and disappeared over the ocean. They eventually found the black boxes in about 6500 feet of water, and Yemenia Airlines was hopeful of finding something, but a week later they announced the tapes were damaged and nothing has been heard since. Nobody is saying anything. The fact this airline is based in Yemen is apparently just a coincidence with all the terrorism stories in the news now.
..and now Ethiopian 409. The wreckage is in relatively shallow water and the pingers should make the CVR/FDR quite easy to locate when combined with air traffic radar tapes of the last known position.
Yet speculation is still rampant. The Lebanese officials have gone out of their way to dismiss any possibility of terrorism while stories making the rounds say the pilot ignored ATC commands to change course and made a strange turn before disappearing. These are essentially meaningless without further information, such as weather radar tapes or the FDR. This report on lightning is perhaps the most concrete data so far in explaining the crash--some kind of upset involving lightning has to be high on the list of probable causes based on the facts reported so far. But all things considered it certainly seems the story is beginning to flow in the direction of pilot error at this point, just like the others.