In October 2015, off the west coast of Mexico, Hurricane Patricia became the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the western hemisphere, intensifying faster than any other storm on record. A unique set of observations were collected in Patricia. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration/Office of Naval Research (ONR) aircraft flew into and above Patricia from its birth to landfall in Mexico, and on-the ground measurements were obtained during Patricia’s landfall. This paper summarizes the life of Patricia and the observations gathered.
Important Conclusions: (two – three)
- NOAA and ONR aircraft flew into and above Patricia during its entire lifetime, providing unprecedented views of Patricia’s wind, temperature, and moisture from the ocean surface to above the top of the storm. Storm chasers in the path of Patricia’s landfall also collected surface pressure measurements.
- These observations showed that Hurricane Patricia was a historic storm that broke many records:
|Fastest 10-s sustained surface wind speed measured by aircraft||94 m s-1 (182 kt; 210 mph)||Global|
|Fastest 10-s flight-level wind speed measured by aircraft||99 m s-1 (192 kt; 221 mph) (tied with Supertyphoon Megi 2010)||Global|
|Lowest minimum pressure measured by aircraft||879 mb (25.96 in)||Western hemisphere|
|Warmest 700-hPa temperature measured by aircraft||32.2° C (90° F)||Western hemisphere|
|Fastest best-track1 maximum sustained wind speed||95 m s-1 (185 kt; 213 mph)||Global|
|Lowest best-track minimum pressure||872 hPa (25.75 in)||Western hemisphere|
|Most rapid best-track intensification rate||97 hPa (2.86 in), 54 m s-1 (105 kt; 120 mph) in 24 h
(97 hPa in 24 h ties Hurricane Wilma 2005)
|Most rapid over-water weakening rate||54 hPa (1.59 in), 26 m s-1 (50 kt; 57.5 mph) in 5 h||Western hemisphere|
|Strongest updraft measured by dropsonde2||27.4 m s-1 (53 kt; 61 mph)||Global|
|Highest Advanced Dvorak Technique T-number3||T8.4 (94 m s-1;182 kt; 210 mph)||Global|
- The data will be used to study what caused this record-breaking storm, and will help to improve forecasts of these systems.
1 The best track is the National Hurricane Center’s best estimate of the track and intensity of a hurricane after all observations are analyzed after the hurricane season ends.
2 A dropsonde is an instrument released from aircraft that measures temperature, pressure, humidity, and wind velocity as it falls to the surface.
3 The Advanced Dvorak Technique is a way to estimate the intensity of hurricanes from satellite data.
You can read the paper at http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0039.1 .