‘Doc’ McFadden nominated for a Sammie

McFadden at podium

Jim McFadden at podium during a press conference about hurricane research plans

James ‘Doc’ McFadden, Programs and Projects director for NOAA’s Aircraft Operations Center (AOC), has been nominated for the People’s Choice Award of the Partnership for Public Service organization.  The Partnership for Public Service is a “nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that believes good government starts with good people.”  It offers annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America (Sammy) awards to U.S. Government employees to recognize their efforts to promote better service and effective governance.  The People’s Choice Award is selected by public vote, which can be accessed here.

Doc McFadden has worked for the Federal Government for over fifty years, starting with the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories‘ Sea-Air Interaction Laboratory in 1965 where he examined the relationship of ocean temperatures to tropical weather, flying several times aboard Weather Bureau aircraft to make real-time measurements.  He became enamored with flying and transferred to the Research Flight Facility (predecessor to AOC) and since that time has recorded over 500 penetrations of hurricane eyes.

His current job involves working with the research community in scheduling the use of AOC’s invaluable aircraft resources and in planning future activities.  Currently he is involved with the implementation of the COYOTE drone, which is launched from the NOAA aircraft into the hurricane environment.  “There isn’t a single person who has experienced a hurricane or a tropical cyclone who hasn’t been directly impacted by his work in a positive way,” said Carl Newman, former AOC director, in nominating McFadden for this award.

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HRD Seminar – Mu-Chieh ‘Laura’ Ko, UM/Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science – 27 July 2016

Ms. Ko presented a seminar on “An Investigation of the Cyclogenesis Forecast  Ability of the HWRF Model by Invoking   the  GFDL Vortex Tracker”.


The purpose of this project is to validate the capability of the HWRF basin-scale model to predict cyclogenesis events using the GFDL vortex tracker. To accomplish this, the data generated by the basin-scale HWRF for the 2015 hurricane season were used. Using the GFDL Vortex Tracker, the cyclogenesis forecast cases were detected and written in ATCF-format outputs. Then, another post-processing filter was applied on those forecast events. Through comparing the HWRF cyclogenesis forecast outputs to the NHC Best-Track data, the cyclogenesis location errors were computed. The location bias helps to group the genesis results into three categories – “Hit”, “Miss”, and “False Alarm”. “Hit” includes the cyclogenesis cases predicted correctly – within 300km location-bias tolerant. “Miss” indicates those cyclogenesis events that happened without being predicted. “False Alarm” describes predicted cases of genesis but without cyclogenesis occurring near the estimated location. The HWRF cyclogenesis forecasts showed a significant increase in accuracy between 4 and 3 days validation time. Moreover, the function of the post-processing filter is discussed. The advantage of the filter is to increase the cyclogenesis output quality, although some correct predictions were removed. Overall, these analyses may one day allow further improvement upon current hurricane genesis forecasting abilities.

 A recording of the presentation is available on the anonymous ftp site:


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15th Anniversary of Goldenberg, et al. paper

Cover of July 20, 2001 Science journal.

Cover of July 20, 2001 Science journal.

In the July 20, 2001, issue of Science magazine, HRD scientists Stan Goldenberg and Chris Landsea, AOML oceanographer Alberto M. Mestas-Nuñez, and Colorado State professor Bill Gray published the article “The Recent Increase in Atlantic Hurricane Activity: Causes and Implications”.  The cover article examined the upsurge in Atlantic hurricane activity starting in 1995 and related it to changes in sea surface temperatures and vertical wind shear over the ocean basin.

Figure 4 from Goldenberg et al. showing changes in Atlantic hurricane activity due to phases of the AMO.

Figure 4 from Goldenberg et al. showing changes in Atlantic hurricane activity due to phases of the AMO.

The authors described how Atlantic hurricane activity was affected by modulations in sea temperatures, such as the El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phase and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).  The paper concludes, “the present high level of hurricane activity is likely to persist for an additional ∼10 to 40 years.”

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Jason Dunion talks with patch.com about the Saharan Air Layer

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You can read the article at http://patch.com/us/across-america/saharan-dust-cloud-descends-texas-gulf-coast.

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HRD Monthly Science Meeting of July 2016

July’s science meeting consisted of 5 presentations:

  1. Joaquin Trinanes (AOML/PhOD) – “CoastWatch and PhOD satellite and ocean products in support of HRD 2016 hurricane season activities”
  2. Erin Dougherty (SUNY- Albany, HRD visitor) – “Hurricane Bonnie (1998): Maintaining Intensity during High Vertical Wind Shear and an Eyewall Replacement Cycle”
  3. Evan Forde (AOML/CNSD) – “An Update on the Historical Relationship of Saharan Air Layers With Atlantic Basin TC Activity (1987-2008)”
  4. Sandy Delgado (CIMAS/NHC) – “Results of the Reanalysis of 1956-1960 Atlantic Hurricane Seasons”
  5. Krista Dotterer (Hollings Scholar – NHC) – “Accuracy of Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) Intensity Estimates in Hurricanes”

All the presentations are available on the anonymous ftp site at:


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Paper on new observations of rapid intensification during Hurricane Karl released online in The Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences

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Read the paper at http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JAS-D-16-0026.1.

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Jason Dunion talks about the Saharan Air Layer with the Weather Channel

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Read the article at https://weather.com/science/weather-explainers/news/saharan-air-layer-african-dust-atlantic-basin.

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Neal Dorst quoted in USA Today article

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Neal Dorst is quoted in this USA Today article on the recent small number of hurricane landfalls in the United States.

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10th Anniversary of Tropical Storm Bilis

TRMM satellite pass showing heavy rainfall south of Bilis' center (NASA)

TRMM satellite pass showing heavy rainfall south of Bilis’ center (NASA)

On July 13, 2006, Severe Tropical Storm Bilis made landfall in northern Taiwan.  Although the maximum sustained winds were only 65 mph (105 km/hr), it brought heavy rains to the island and to northern Luzon.  It went on to make landfall on mainland China the next day and inundated parts of Fujian province.  The total damage caused by Bilis was approximately US$4.4 billion, killed nearly 860 people, and left over 400,000 people homeless.

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20th Anniversary of Hurricane Bertha

Hurricane Bertha near peak intensity on July 9th, 1996

Hurricane Bertha near peak intensity on July 9th, 1996

On July 12, 1996, Hurricane Bertha roared ashore at Wrightsville Beach, NC, smashing piers and boats.  The storm had already left a trail of destruction across the northern Caribbean islands and subsequently brought heavy rainfall along the Eastern Seaboard.

Bertha grew out of an African Easterly Wave that became a tropical depression on July 5th in the mid-Atlantic.  It maintained a steady WNW course as it slowly strengthened.  It became a hurricane on the evening of July 7th as it approached Guadeloupe.  The center of the minimal hurricane passed over Antigua and Saint Martin the next morning, causing moderate damage.  But the hurricane rapidly intensified into a Category-3 hurricane as it passed over the Virgin Islands and north of Puerto Rico.  Although Puerto Rico missed the maximum winds, it did receive torrential rains from Bertha, up to 7″ in the eastern rain forests.

Track of NOAA43 into Hurricane Bertha on July 10th, 1996

Track of NOAA43 into Hurricane Bertha on July 10th, 1996

Bertha’s winds peaked at 115 mph (190 km/hr) as it passed close to the Turks and Caicos Islands.  Shortly after this maximum, NOAA43 carried out a reconnaissance mission into the hurricane.  The track of the storm shifted to the NW over the northern Bahamas and seemed aimed at Charleston, SC as it weakened back to a Category-1 hurricane.  But on the night of July 11th, the track swerved northward and the maximum sustained winds intensified to 105 mph (170 km/hr) at landfall.  Bertha rapidly declined in strength as it moved along the eastern coast of the United States, but managed to dump copious amounts of rain along the way, more than 9″ in North Carolina and over 7″ in areas of New York and New England.

Bertha caused about US$335 million in damage, most of that in the Carolinas.  It also cost 12 lives, many in Florida from rough seas.  Less than two months later the same area of North Carolina was struck by Hurricane Fran.

HRD research paper referencing Hurricane Bertha:

Powell, M. D., and S. K. Rinard, 1997:  Marine forecasting at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.  Wea. Forecast., 13, 764-782.

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