NOAA Hurricane Field Program begins with flights into Potential Tropical Cyclone 2 in the Tropical Atlantic

The NOAA flight season began early this year with an operational flight into a system, known as Potential Tropical Cyclone 2, that may soon develop into a tropical depression east of the Windward Islands. The plan for the season was recently released and is available online at, and a kickoff meeting to discuss plans for the season was held on 27 June.

The goals of this year’s program, known as Advancing the Prediction of Hurricane Experiment, or APHEX, are threefold.

In addition to the regular suite of instruments on the NOAA aircraft, NOAA will be testing multiple other instruments for future deployment. Among them are

1. dropwindsondes that, in addition to reporting pressure, temperature, moisture, and wind up to four times per second as they descend to the ocean surface, will also measure the sea surface temperature, an important measure of how much energy is available to fuel the tropical cyclone.

2. A new small Uncrewed Aerial System, known as the Altius-600 is planned to be flown in a tropical cyclone for the first time this year to measure these same parameters where it is unsafe for the large, crewed aircraft to go.

3. A Ka/Ku-band Interferometric Altimeter (KaIA) significant wave height below the aircraft to improve storm surge and other marine forecasts in the vicinity of tropical cyclones.

4. A Compact Rotational Raman Lidar that measures temperature and moisture, critical to understanding their roles in tropical cyclone development.

5. Terrestrial High-energy Observations of Radiation measuring gamma rays that emanate from lightning from inside the tropical cyclone, to help understand the role of thunderstorms in tropical cyclone development.

6. Possible late-season installation of an Airborne Wind Lidar that will measure wind velocity in partly cloud and clear areas where the Doppler Radars aboard the aircraft cannot measure wind.

NOAA will cooperate with two other field programs during the summer. The Office of Naval Research Tropical Cyclone Rapid Intensification program will use NOAA aircraft to identify key processes involved in tropical cyclone rapid intensification. NASA’s Convective Processes Experiment – Cabo Verde (CPEX-CV), a continuation of last year’s CPEX Aerosols and Winds, will operate out of Cabo Verde and study tropical waves, the Saharan Air Layer, and the West African Monsoon, and the roles they play in tropical cyclogenesis off the West Coast of Africa.

The full slide deck with all the information from the kickoff meeting on 27 Jun is available at

For more information, contact