The NOAA P-3 completed its last mission into Hurricane Michael this morning, passing through the storm four times. As in the previous three missions, we provided critical measurements of the 3-D wind, precipitation, and thermodynamic (temperature and humidity) structure of the storm from our Doppler radar, dropsondes, and flight level measurements. The data was not only critical for providing us information on the current state of the storm, but was also assimilated into forecast models to help improve the track and intensity forecasts as the storm approached landfall on the Florida Panhandle. The G-IV completed its last mission yesterday afternoon, offering, yet again, critical measurements in the environment surrounding Michael — observations that helped the forecasts of the storm, as well as providing hurricane researchers an opportunity to analyze how environmental factors play a role in modulating the storm’s structure and intensity.
Although the primary mission of the P-3 and G-IV missions were for operations (NHC and the NOAA/NCEP/Environmental Modeling Center), scientifically the observations obtained over the past 3 days are considered one of the most comprehensive datasets in a rapidly intensifying storm in the historical record of the Hurricane Field Program – Intensity Forecasting Experiment (IFEX). In addition to an extensive suite of atmospheric measurements, we deployed dozens of ocean profiling instruments, provided by colleagues of HRD at the University of Miami, that measure the characteristics of the ocean. Understanding the interaction between the ocean and atmosphere is a key building block towards subsequently improving our understanding of hurricane processes, as well as improving track and intensity forecasts.
A look into the eye of category 4 Hurricane Michael this morning (credit: NOAA/AOML/HRD)
An overview of composite analyses from our Tail Doppler radar from each P-3 mission into Hurricane Michael (radar reflectivity, showing the rainfall pattern, is on the left in each mission panel, while the wind speed at an altitude of 2 km is shown in right image in each mission panel)
P-3 Mission 1: October 8, 4 PM EDT
P-3 Mission 2: October 9, 4 AM EDT
P-3 Mission 3: October 9, 4 PM EDT
P-3 Mission 4: October 10, 4 AM EDT
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DISCLAIMER: The above discussion is intended to provide a brief summary of recent and future HRD Hurricane Field Program Operations. Any use of this material beyond its original intent is prohibited without permission of the HRD Director. Media inquiries should be directed to Erica Rule (305-361-4541) or Erica.Rule@noaa.gov, Monica Allen (301-734-1123) or Monica.Allen@noaa.gov.