Paper on updrafts in hurricanes and how they relate to intensity changes published in Monthly Weather Review


NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft have a Doppler radar that measures wind through the entire hurricane.  We analyzed these radar data collected in many hurricanes since 2004.  Previous studies found that the location of the fastest upward moving air (what we call updrafts) may tell us how strong the storm will be a few hours later, but they didn’t look at what an updraft looks like.  We studied updrafts from many hurricanes, showing how they are different in different parts of the storm and whether these differences can tell us whether or not a hurricane will intensify in the next 12 hours.  The figure below shows what a typical updraft looks like.

This study was conducted when the lead author was an Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholar at AOML/HRD.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 10.14.19 AM.png


Important Conclusions:

  1. Updrafts are stronger in hurricanes that intensify than in those that don’t.
  2. Updrafts occur higher up in the atmosphere in hurricanes that intensify than in those that don’t.
  3. When updrafts occur all around the storm center, the hurricane intensifies more than if the updrafts occur in only one part of the hurricane.
  4. Forecasters can use this knowledge to predict whether a hurricane will intensify during the next 12 hours or so.
  5. Scientists can also use this knowledge to see whether their computer models are making accurate forecasts.

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 11.55.13 AM.png

Read the paper at