First successful transmission of high-resolution dropwindsonde data from Hurricane Hunter aircraft

During a test flight on 31 July, the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) released a dropwindsonde and transmitted the wind, pressure, temperature, and humidity data to the ground and around the world via the Global Telecommunications System.  Since the advent of dropsondes in the 1940s, only data from a few of the many observations could be transmitted, mainly due to bandwidth limits of the aircraft over the open ocean.  Data have been sent in a text format known as TEMP DROP, which provided only a small fraction of the total data obtained.  The current dropwindsonde can take measurements four times every second as it falls to the ground.

As communications increased, more data could be sent off the plane, and a format known as BUFR (Binary Universal Form for the Representation of meteorological data) was used.  In the old TEMP DROP format, only 17 observations could be sent for this test dropwindsonde, but hundreds of observations can now be seen by forecasters to see the important features in a hurricane, and can be used by models to improve forecasts.


Special thanks to Sonia Otero of HRD, John Hill and Mike Holmes of AOC, and our partners at the NCAR Earth Observing Laboratory who made this all possible.

2 thoughts on “First successful transmission of high-resolution dropwindsonde data from Hurricane Hunter aircraft

  1. Short note to say you continue to do terrific work on Hurricane information.

    Retired NWS Mt Holly, NJ as Hurricane Program Manager and teach Aviation Weather Hazards at local college.

    Flew into Mitch 98’ as an observer with James Franklin/Frank Marks. Flight was featured in “Ship and the Storm”.

    Keep up the fantastic work and thanks for keeping us informed and safe!

    Jim Eberwine


  2. Hello to all dedicated folks we depend on to inform, the population about ma nature. I was wondering why our military couldn’t direct a force of some kind at the beginning of the formation of these storms. This effectively could disrupt further development of these powerful storms. Maybe a non nuclear (no radiation) type of quick shock wave, sound wave, or cold water expansion (BLAST) from the deeper colder waters under the starting area of the future eye wall. Another thought would be to station purpose built ships ,with high speed response hulls to administer the force to render the storms to lower acceptable levels. Sincerly yours, Craig Farnsworth : Portland , Oregon


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