35th Anniversary of Hurricane David’s Florida landfall


On September 3, 1979, Hurricane David, one of the most destructive and deadly Atlantic hurricanes on record, made a glancing landfall on south Florida after its devastating rampage through the Caribbean.  David had seemed to be aimed to make landfall in  either Dade or Broward counties but just hours before impact swerved to the right and came ashore at West Palm Beach.  It traveled along the Florida east coast and finally exited near New Smyrna Beach.  This track kept the maximum sustained winds offshore, but David still managed to inflict US$95 million in damage to the Sunshine State.


David formed in the Main Development Region of the tropical Atlantic Ocean nine days before hitting Florida.  The tropical depression quickly ramped up in intensity as it closed in on the Lesser Antilles, and hit the island of Dominica with 140 mph (225 km/hr) winds killing 56 people.  David passed south of Puerto Rico, but still managed to dump 20 inches of rain in parts of that island, killing 7 and leaving US$70 million in destruction to be cleaned up.  Its winds increased further as it moved west-northwestward toward the island of Hispañola and had peak sustained winds at 175 mph (280 km/hr) just prior to its landfall at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.  The winds and heavy rain caused 2000 deaths and US$1 billion in damage in that country.  David was greatly diminished in strength after that, but did regain hurricane strength over the Bahamas, where it uprooted trees but caused no deaths.  Hurricane warnings were posted throughout south Florida in anticipation of a Category 2 hurricane impact.

After sliding up the Florida coast, David made a final landfall near Savannah, Georgia as a Category-1 hurricane.  Although it quickly weakened as it moved northward, David still managed to bring gusty winds, heavy rains, and tornadoes through Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland.  This inflicted another US$225 million in losses to the United States.  Since 1979 was the first year that men’s names were used for Atlantic hurricanes, David was the first male name to be retired from the list.


The National Hurricane Research Laboratory managed to fly a dozen missions into Hurricane David, from the time of its peak intensity until it struck the Georgia coast.  From those flights, NHRL scientist began to formulate the concept of eyewall replacement cycles. The following research papers were produced by Laboratory personnel using data from David:

  • Jorgensen, D. P., 1984:  Mesoscale and convective-scale characteristics of mature hurricanes. Part I:  General observations by research aircraft.  J. Atmos. Sci., 41, 1268-1285.
  • Willoughby, H. E., 1990:  Temporal changes of the primary circulation in tropical cyclones.  J. Atmos. Sci., 47, 242-264.
  • Willoughby, H. E., D. P. Jorgensen, R. A. Black, and S. L. Rosenthal, 1985:  Project STORMFURY:  A scientific chronicle 1962-1983.  Bull. Amer. Met. Soc., 66, 505-514.
  • Willoughby, H. E., F. D. Marks, Jr., and R. J. Feinberg, 1984: Stationary and moving convective bands in hurricanes.  J. Atmos. Sci., 41, 3189-3211.
  • Willoughby, H. E., J. A. Clos, and M. G. Shoreibah, 1982:  Concentric eyewalls, secondary wind maxima, and the evolution of the hurricane vortex.  J. Atmos. Sci., 39, 395-411.

Paper on a new satellite technique to examine the daily cycle of convection in tropical cyclones released online by Monthly Weather Review

This work describes a new technique that uses infrared satellite imagery to examine the evolution of the tropical cyclone daily cycle for all Atlantic major hurricanes from 2001-2010.  The imagery reveals cyclical pulses in the cloud field that regularly move outward from the hurricane each day.  These pulses begin near the hurricane’s center at about sunset each day and move outward several hundred kilometers by the following afternoon.  There can be significant changes in hurricane structure as these daily pulses evolve, and they may impact intensity estimates and the size of the hurricane wind field. The repetition of this cycle and in time and space suggests that it may be a fundamental hurricane process.

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The full paper can be accessed at http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/MWR-D-13-00191.1.

30th Anniversary of Typhoon Ike (Nitang)

Typhoon_Ike_1984Typhoon Ike as it restrengthens over the South China Sea (NASA)

On September 1, 1984, Typhoon Ike (or Nitang from the Philippine’s name list) tore into the central Philippines, leaving a trail of death behind.  Ike formed from a disturbance in the monsoon trough south of the Mariannas on August 21st.  It meandered as a depression for five days before it reached a favorable area and strengthened into a tropical storm.  It began heading due west and brushed Guam with its outer bands, causing little damage.  It began rapidly intensifying on its westward path and had 145 mph (230 km/hr) winds by the time it struck Siargao in the Philippines.  It tore through the center of the archipelago, weakening below typhoon status as it did.  But Ike regained most of its strength while crossing the South China Sea.  Fortunately, it weakened to 90 mph (140 km/hr) sustained winds before making another landfall on Hainan Island in China.

The typhoon’s rains were as deadly as its winds and over 1,490 Filipinos died mostly from flash flooding.  This made Ike one of the deadliest typhoons in Philippine history.  Hundreds of thousands were left homeless and nearly a billion in US dollars of damage was done.  Over 50 more people were killed in China, even as the storm was dissipating inland, due to the heavy rains.

60th Anniversary of Hurricane Carol


Edgewood Yacht club in Carol’s storm surge

On August 31, 1954, Hurricane Carol delivered the left jab of a 1-2 punch to New England by hurricanes that year.  Eleven days later, Hurricane Edna would strike the same area.  A major hurricane, Carol was the worst hurricane to strike the area in the decade since the Great Atlantic Hurricane in 1944.

Carol was first detected as a strong tropical depression east of the central Bahamas.  In this pre-satellite era, the disturbance from which the depression formed had gone largely unnoticed.  It reached tropical-storm status withing six hours as it moved slowly northward.  Within two days, it was a full hurricane.  Carol slowed down as it zigged northwest then zagged northeastward.  During this period, its sustained winds peaked at 115 mph (185 km/hr).  While east of Cape Fear, Carol got caught up in a low-pressure trough heading off the U.S. east coast and picked up considerable forward speed, brushing Cape Hatteras with hurricane-force gusts.  Within a day and a half, Carol slammed into Long Island and Connecticut, much like the Great New England hurricane sixteen years before.  The winds had risen back up to 110 mph (190 km/hr) and Carol brought along a healthy slug of tropical rain.

3hurrCarol’s winds destroyed tens of thousands of homes throughout New England as well as thousands of cars and as many boats.  It ruined $22 million worth of crops, leveling apple and peach orchards.  It also flattened thousands of power line poles, leaving 150,000 people without power.  The damage totaled $460 million.  The hurricane’s impact was so considerable that the Weather Bureau decided at year’s end to retire the name Carol (along with Edna and Hazel) for ten years.  This makes Carol the first Atlantic hurricane name to be retired.  The trio of Carol, Edna, and Hazel also prompted Congress to allocate funds for the Weather Bureau to form the National Hurricane Research Project and to create a network of technologically advance weather radars (WSR-57s) that was to improve monitoring of severe weather across the country in the decades to come.

US Representative Mario Diaz-Balart visits with HRD scientists

U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) visited AOML today. He met a few of our HRD scientists who presented current research highlights and accomplishments such as our flights into Hurricane Cristobal, our work on the HWRF modeling system, and our new hurricane sampling technology – the unmanned aerial system called Coyote.

L-R: US Rep. Diaz-Balart, Joe Cione, Xuejin Zhang, Shirley Murillo and Sundararaman Gopalakrishnan

L-R: US Rep. Diaz-Balart, Joe Cione, Xuejin Zhang, Shirley Murillo and Sundararaman Gopalakrishnan

L-R: US Rep. Diaz-Balart, Robert Atlas, Thiago Quirino and Joe Cione.

L-R: US Rep. Diaz-Balart, Robert Atlas, Thiago Quirino and Joe Cione.


NOAA’s P3 is set to take off for another flight into Cristobal

NOAA43 will fly this afternoon into Cristobal. Take off is scheduled for 2PM Eastern from MacDill Air Force Base. Below is the proposed flight track. The dots on the flight track (shown in green) represent the aircraft turn points. The red dots in the figure show the locations that launch weather balloons twice a day while the purple dots are the locations that launch balloons once a day.



50th Anniversary of Hurricane Cleo


On August 27, 1964, Hurricane Cleo smashed its way along the east coast of Florida, bringing considerable damage from Key Biscayne to Jacksonville.  During the previous week, the storm had rampaged through the Lesser and Greater Antilles, leaving over 150 dead and nearly US$60 million in damage.  It had reached its peak with 155 mph (250 km/hr) winds while south of Hispañola.  But encounters with that island and Cuba weakened Cleo to tropical-storm strength.  While moving north of Cuba over the Gulf Stream, Cleo regained hurricane strength.  The hurricane was monitored constantly by Research Flight Facility aircraft, which found no wind of hurricane strength on the western side of the storm.  However, the last DC-6 penetration was 3 hours prior to landfall, during which time the hurricane unexpectedly rapidly intensified to 100 mph (160 km/hr). In Florida, Cleo smashed the windows of hotels and storefronts along Miami Beach, destroyed the theme park Storyland in Pompano Beach, delayed the opening of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, and uprooted trees and downed power lines all the way to Melbourne.  Most of the damage was confined to a narrow 30 mile strip along the coast, but that’s where most of the expensive properties were located.  After exiting the coast at Jacksonville, Cleo struck Savannah and brought heavy rains to Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia, as well as tornadoes to South Carolina.  Cleo’s U.S. rampage cost 2 lives and nearly US$130 million in damage.


Cleo’s track from Miami radar

The eye of Hurricane Cleo passed over the Aviation Building (near Miami International Airport) which then housed both the National Hurricane Center and the National Hurricane Research Laboratory.  Meteorologists in the building were able to observe lightning in the eyewall as it passed over.

Hurricane Field Program Update – Tuesday, August 26, 2014 11AM Eastern


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

NOAA42:  Is tasked to fly a Tail Doppler Radar mission into Hurricane Cristobal. Take off was around 2AM Eastern from MacDill Air Force Base. Three HRD scientists were onboard.

G-IV: Was tasked to fly a Tail Doppler Radar research mission around Hurricane Cristobal. The G-IV is not available therefore this flight is cancelled.

NOAA43:  Is tasked to fly a Tail Doppler Radar mission into Hurricane Cristobal. Take off is scheduled for 2PM Eastern from MacDill Air Force Base. Three HRD scientists will be onboard.


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DISCLAIMER: The above discussion is intended to provide a brief summary of recent and future HRD Hurricane Field Program Operations. Any use of this material beyond its original intent is prohibited without permission of the HRD Director. Media inquiries should be directed to Erica Rule (305-361-4541) or Erica.Rule@noaa.gov, Evan Forde (305-361-4327) or Evan.Forde@noaa.gov, Monica Allen (301-734-1123) or Monica.Allen@noaa.gov.

Its an early morning flight into Cristobal for NOAA’s P3 hurricane hunter aircraft

NOAA’s P3 aircraft -NOAA42, is starting their day with an early morning flight into Cristobal. The flight will take off at 2AM Eastern from MacDill Air Force Base. Below is the proposed flight track. The dots on the flight track (shown in green) represent the aircraft turn points. The red dots in the figure show the locations that launch weather balloons twice a day while the purple dots are the locations that launch balloons once a day.