Doppler radar quick-looks from 11:00 AM P-3 flight into Hurricane Patricia, 23 October 2015

As Hurricane Patricia continued its rapid intensification 135 km southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico a NOAA P-3 mission collected airborne Doppler radar data to use in initializing and evaluating model guidance. This P-3 mission coincided with a WB-57 TCI mission into Patricia.

The figure below depicts the aircraft flight track (P-3: red line; WB-57: blue line) superposed on lower fuselage radar and visible satellite imagery.

P-3 and WB-57 flight tracks

P-3 and WB-57 flight tracks

Included here you see images of the vertical cross sections of radar reflectivity and tangential velocity sampled from the tail Doppler radar on the P-3 from the inbound portion of the first pass through Patricia during the afternoon of 23 October 2015. The vertical cross sections show that Patricia had a very small radar eye with a radius <5 km and echo tops reaching 16-km altitude. The maximum tangential winds coincided with the radius of the maximum reflectivity surrounding the eye with >50 m/s winds extending to 10-km altitude. There also is a hint of a secondary wind maximum between 30-45 km radius coincident with the secondary ring of reflectivity surrounding the eye in the lower fuselage radar image above. This secondary wind maximum was more apparent in the outbound radial pass (not shown).

Also plotted are images showing the  horizontal winds within 180 km of Patricia on the this first pass. These images are at three altitudes (1 km, 3 km, and 6 km) and are a composite of winds from the P-3 Doppler patterns around Patricia. The horizontal analyses showed that Patricia was much better organized and stronger than the day before, with the strongest winds 15-20 km north of the circulation center at 1-km altitude, and 15-20 km east and southeast of the center  at 3- and 6-km altitude, respectively. The radius of maximum wind in the horizontal Doppler analyses can not resolve the tight inner core wind structure seen in the vertical cross sections because of the horizontal resolution of the analysis. What the horizontal analyses can clearly show is evidence of the secondary wind maximum at 50-75 km radius, particularly southeast of the center (outbound leg). The circulation center was nearly vertical from 1- to 6-km altitude. The upwind rotation of the wind maximum with increasing altitude suggest an increasing southerly-southwesterly vertical shear of the horizontal wind over the storm.

All the Hurricane Patricia radar composites at 0.5-km height resolution are available at:

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