NOAA Hurricane Hunters set eyes on Tropical Depression Eta

The Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) tasked NOAA’s P-3 aircraft to investigate Tropical Depression Eta as the circulation slowly propagates back into the western Caribbean. 

The P-3 took off from Lakeland, Florida at 1 PM EDT on November 6 for its 8-hour-long mission into the system.

AOML scientists both onboard the aircraft and remotely will process measurements to ensure th4e high quality of the data transmitted and guide the mission as the cyclone evolves over the warm ocean water.

Mid-level moisture retrievals within and near Tropical Depression Eta as seen by GOES-East satellite imagery.

The mission’s objectives include determining the strength and extent of the surface winds and assessing the system’s precipitation structure. Measurements obtained will be used to initialize numerical simulations in real-time to improve the performance of operational forecast models.

Flying at an altitude of 20,000 feet, the aircraft instrumentation will collect observations in a lawnmower pattern, allowing for complete coverage of the storm and its environment. The orientation of the pattern will likely be adjusted to account for differences in Eta’s position relative to the Central American landmass.

Planned flight track for NOAA’s P-3 reconnaissance into Tropical Depression Eta on October 6.

The National Hurricane Center expects Eta to strengthen and expand in size over the weekend while tracking to the northeast. 

Depending on the presentation of Eta’s structure, additional science goals defined in AOML’s hurricane Intensity Forecast Experiment (IFEX) may be performed. 

Given the potential for intensification, an increase in convection will likely occur, providing the appropriate environment to conduct a Convective Burst Module

Prepared flight deviations to collect the appropriate measurements for AOML’s Convective Burst Module.

NOAA anticipates subsequent P-3 reconnaissance through the weekend to evaluate the development of Tropical Depression Eta. 

>> Scientist K. Ryan
>> Edits by: R. Kravetz

For details about reconnaissance aircraft missions, please see NOAA’s official Plan of the Day.

For the latest information about tropical cyclones and other weather systems, please visit the NOAA/NWS/National Hurricane Center.

For information on numerical prediction of tropical cyclones, please visit NOAA/NCEP/Environmental Modeling Center.

To access updates on the Intensity Forecasting EXperiment (IFEX) and other activities via Facebook, Twitter, or RSS feed, check out the NOAA/AOML/HRD page.

To directly access updates on IFEX HFP Operations via our WordPress blog on the web, check the site:

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, Frank Marks ( Media inquiries should be directed to AOML Communications (, Monica Allen (301-734-1123) or

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