HRD Monthly Science Meeting of February 2015

February’s science meeting consisted of 3 presentations:

  1. Ghassan (Gus) Alaka: Track Errors in the Basin-Scale HWRF Model
  2. Steve Diaz: Basin-Scale NMMB Scalability Assessment
  3. Kelly Ryan: Estimating Tropical Cyclone Intensity using the Deviation Angle Variance Technique

All the presentations and posters are available on the anonymous ftp site at:

ftp://ftp.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/pub/blog/meetings/2015/science/HRD_SciMeet_20150212.zip

Paper on the rapid intensification of Hurricane Earl in 2010 published in Monthly Weather Review

The paper discusses changes to the structure of Hurricane Earl (2010) as it rapidly intensified.   It found

  • Earl tilted with height before it intensified, but was upright during the intensification.
  • Strong thunderstorms played a significant role in the rapid intensification of Hurricane Earl.
  • Thunderstorms located on the inside of the eyewall are a condition favorable for intensification.
  • It is important to learn why thunderstorms form where they do to improve forecasts.
  • It is also important to observe the structure of the hurricane to better represent where these thunderstorms may occur in forecast models and improve hurricane forecasts.

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The paper can be accessed at http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/MWR-D-14-00175.1.

Paper on the rapid intensification of Hurricane Earl published in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences

Hurricanes sometimes change intensity very quickly, and if this happens when they approach land, it can suddenly cause a lot of damage or kill many people. This so-called Rapid Intensification (RI) is very hard to forecast. For the first time, the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast (HWRF) model that NOAA uses to forecast where a hurricane will go and how strong it will be, was used to help understand RI. During RI, the HWRF forecasts matched information from aircraft in hurricanes.Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 12.28.19 PM

Important conclusions:

 

  • Sometimes, the position of the hurricane eye changes with height. It was thought that this change needed to disappear before RI began, but, in this case, it does not disappear until a few hours after RI begins.
  • Hurricane eyes are warm in the middle and upper parts of the atmosphere, and the amount of warmth is tied to intensity. The eyewall is the ring of strong thunderstorms surrounding the eye that fuel the hurricane winds. When the thunderstorms get especially strong in a special part of the eyewall, they can help to transfer more warm air into the eye and lead to further intensification.

The paper can be accessed at http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JAS-D-14-0097.1.

Paper on using aircraft data in hurricane models to improve forecasts published in Monthly Weather Review

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NOAA and U. S. Air Force aircraft have been gathering wind, temperature, humidity and pressure information inside hurricanes for more than 30 years. The NOAA aircraft have been fitted with Doppler radars that can see the entire hurricane’s rain and wind from near the ground to the top of the clouds. All the information is sent from the aircraft to the National Hurricane Center so they can see what the hurricane looks like. However, until now, we have not yet had the computer power to get the information into the models that are used to forecast where the hurricane will go and how strong the wind and rain will be. This study marks the first time that this information has been used in NOAA’s Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast (HWRF) model. It shows that there is hope for making better forecasts using the information from flights into hurricanes.

Important conclusions:

  1. Forecasts of where the hurricane will go using the information from the aircraft are about 10% better than those that do not use it.

  2. Forecasts of the fastest wind speed in the hurricane using the aircraft data are up to 23% better than those that do not use it.

  3. Forecasts of the winds surrounding the hurricane center are also better when they use the information from the flights.

HRD Monthly Science Meeting of January 2015

January’s Science meeting consisted of 7 of the 9 presentations made by AOML/HRD researchers at the 95th AMS Annual Meeting held in Phoenix, AZ from 4-8 January 2015:

  1. Bachir Annane (from a poster):  Impact of CYGNSS Data on Hurricane Analyses and Forecasts in a Regional OSSE Framework
  2. Javier Delgado: Improving the Performance of the Basin Scale HWRF System
  3. Xuejin Zhang: Targeting on the Research to Operational Transition with the Basin-scale HWRF Modeling System
  4. Xuejin Zhang (for Gopal): A Global to Local-Scale Hurricane Forecasting System
  5. Lisa Bucci (from a poster): OSSE Evaluation of a Hyperspectral Sounder and its Potential Impact on Hurricane Prediction
  6. John Gamache: Real-time Airborne Radar Data Quality Control and transmission from NOAA Aircraft for assimilation into HWRF
  7. Frank Marks: NOAA’s Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project – HFIP

Two other presentations from the conference were:

  1. Jason Dunion (for Mike Black): Tropical Cyclone Research Utilizing the Global Hawk Unmanned Aircraft
  2. Robert Atlas: Observing System Simulation Experiments to Assess the Potential Impact of Proposed Observing Systems on Hurricane Prediction

The two posters presented were:

  1. Bachir Annane:  Impact of CYGNSS Data on Hurricane Analyses and Forecasts in a Regional OSSE Framework
  2. Lisa Bucci: OSSE Evaluation of a Hyperspectral Sounder and its Potential Impact on Hurricane Prediction

All the presentations and posters are available on the anonymous ftp site at: ftp://ftp.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/pub/blog/meetings/2015/science/HRD_SciMeet_20150115.zip

Hurricane-related anniversaries expected in 2015

Here is a list of anniversaries relating to tropical cyclones (just those ending in 5 or 0) we will be noting this year.

2015 Hurricane-Related Anniversaries
 2010   5th anniversary

  • NOAA adds 12 hours to its hurricane watch and warning lead times.
  • References to storm surge heights are removed from the Saffir-Simpson scale.
  • NASA runs its Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes experiment in conjunction with NOAA’s Intensity Forecasting EXpriment (IFEX) and with National Science Foundation-funded PRE-Depression Investigation of Cloud Systems in the Tropics experiment.  Several tropical cyclones are documented from their inception to decay.
  • Tropical Storm Matthew killed 126 in Central America and Mexico due to flooding.
  • Typhoon Megi reaches 885 mb central pressure in the West Pacific

 2005  10th anniversary

  • Severe Tropical Cyclone Ingrid rampages across all three northern states in Australia, leaving five dead and over US$14 million in damages.
  • One of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on record sees 28 named storms with forecasters having to resort to Greek letters when the storm name list runs out.
  • Hurricane Dennis, one of the strongest June/July hurricanes ever in the Atlantic.
  • Hurricane Emily became the earliest category-5 hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic.
  • Hurricane Katrina makes landfall in the northern Gulf of Mexico, bringing a tremendous storm surge to Mississippi and Alabama and great loss of life to New Orleans when the levees fail.  The storm causes over $100 billion in damage and over 1800 deaths.
  • Hurricane Rita makes landfall in Louisiana causing over 100 deaths and $12 billion in damage.
  • Hurricane Wilma strikes the Yucatan peninsula and then Florida causing $29 billion in damage.
  • Hurricane Stan made landfall in Mexico causing about $4 billion in damage, killing 1668, making it one of the deadliest hurricanes in modern Mexican history.
  • NASA runs its Tropical Cloud System and Processes experiment in conjunction with the NOAA IFEX program, but diverts resources from eastern Pacific to the Atlantic when activity there becomes overwhelming.
  • The IFEX experiment begins transmitting detailed Doppler wind field analyses from NOAA P-3 aircraft to NCEP.
  • NCAR operates its RAINband and intensity EXperiment (based at the University of Miami RSMAS campus) in conjunction with NOAA’s IFEX, exploring tropical cyclones in  the Gulf of Mexico.
  • An Aerosonde is flown into Tropical Storm Ophelia, becoming the first unmanned vehicle to penetrate an Atlantic tropical cyclone.

 2000  15th anniversary

  • Typhoon Bills brings heavy rainfall and flooding to Taiwan.  Over US$133 million in damage is caused.
  • Very Intense Tropical Cyclone Hudah killed 114 in Madagascar and Mozambique, with maximum intensity of 905 mb.

1995  20th anniversary

  • The GFDL model becomes operational.
  • Hurricane Luis struck the eastern Caribbean as one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded there, killing 19 and leaving about $2.5 billion in damage.
  • Hurricane Opal suddenly intensifies and threatens the Florida panhandle, but also rapidly weakens before landfall.
  • The Rapid Scan ability on GOES satellites becomes available.
  • SuperTyphoon Rosing/Angela hits Visayas, Philippines, killing 936.

 1990  25th anniversary

  • Mark DeMaria and John Kaplan develop the Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction Scheme SHIPS.
  • Roger Pielke Sr writes the book “The Hurricane”.
  • The Tropical Cyclone Motion-90 experiment is carried out in the western Pacific.
  • SuperTyphoon Ruping/Mike struck Visayas, Philippines,  killing 748.
  • Andra Pradesh Cyclone reaches 920 mb and kills 967 in India.

1985  30th anniversary

  • Hurricane Gloria roars up the eastern seaboard brushing Cape Hatteras.  It threatens New York City, but at landfall its strongest winds are east of the city over Long Island.
  • Hurricane Elena prompted the evacuation of the Florida coast three times before making landfall in Louisiana.
  • Hugh Willoughby, Bob Black, Stan Rosenthal, and Dave Jorgensen write the definitive paper assessing Project STORMFURY.
  • A cyclone hits Urir, Bangladesh and kills 15,000 people.

 1980  35th anniversary

  • NHC begins issuing all Atlantic tropical cyclone advisories.
  • Hurricane Allen careens across the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico as a Category Five hurricane.  It leaves behind nearly a billion and a quarter dollars worth of damage.
  • Hurricane Frances becomes a major hurricane east of 30W, the only storm to have done so.

 1975  40th anniversary

  • Vern Dvorak develops his technique for estimating tropical cyclone strength using satellite images.
  • Hurricane Eloise hits the Florida panhandle.
  • Typhoon Nina became the deadliest typhoon in China, killing about 100,000 when reservoirs failed.

 1970  45th anniversary

  • The US Government folds the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA) and other ocean-related agencies into the new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  • The barotropic hurricane track model SANBAR is developed.  It is named for Massachusetts Institute of Technology  professor Frederick Sanders.
  • Charlie Neumann and John Hope publish a paper on HURRAN, a HURRicane ANalog storm track model.
  • Hurricane Celia hits Corpus Christi leaving 27 dead and costing $930 million.
  • Three typhoons strike the Philippines in short order, resulting in over 200 deaths.
  • The Bhola Cyclone strikes East Pakistan and nearly a half million people perish.  The subsequent political unrest spurred by the cyclone leads to East Pakistan rebelling against the Karachi government and becoming the independent state of Bangladesh.

1965  50th anniversary

  • The Dept. of Commerce reorganizes the US Weather Bureau, US Coast and Geodetic Survey, and elements of the National Bureau of Standards into the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA).  The Weather Bureau is divided into operation and research wings, the latter becoming the Environmental Research Laboratories.
  • Hurricane Betsy flirts with, but does not cross into, the Project STORMFURY area.  It then makes a U-turn over the Gulf Stream and heads through the Florida Keys and on to New Orleans.
  • An Indian cyclone in May kills 36,000 people.  A Bangladesh cyclone two week later causes 12,000 deaths.

1960  55th anniversary

  •  Television Infrared Observation Satellite (TIROS) I begins transmitting images of Earth’s weather from space.
  • Hurricane Donna smashes several islands in the Antilles and then marches up the east coast of the United States, causing $900 million in damage and killing between 160-360 people.
  • Hurricane Ethel became a category-5 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, but weakened rapidly before landfall.  It currently holds the record as the furthest north category-5 hurricane in the Atlantic.
  • Cyclone Ten killed 20,299 in East Bangladesh.
  • Dunn and Miller publish “Atlantic Hurricanes”.

1955  60th anniversary

  • Hurricanes Connie and Diane strike the Carolinas in succession and both pass over Washington DC within a week of each other.
  • The National Hurricane Research Project begins organizing after Congressional funds are authorized.
  • The Miami Hurricane Warning Center is designated as the primary center of the hurricane warning network.
  • The Joint Numerical Weather Prediction Unit is organized between the Weather Bureau, Army, and Navy to take over the pioneering work by MIT in creating computer models to predict the weather.
  • Hurricane Hilda smashes Tampico, Mexico and leaves over 300 dead.
  • A Navy Hurricane Hunter plane goes down in Hurricane Janet in the Caribbean with all crew lost.  Subsequently, the hurricane hits the Yucatan leaving nearly 1000 people dead.

1950  65th anniversary

  • After three hurricanes exist in the Atlantic basin simultaneously, the US Weather Bureau adopts the US Air Force custom of naming Atlantic storms after the Army-Navy phonetic alphabet to avoid confusion.  The practice goes public the following year.
  • Hurricane King ravages Cuba and South Florida leaving over $30 million in damage.

 1945  70th anniversary

  • A major hurricane sweeps up the Florida peninsula.  Lt. David Atlas mans an Army experimental radar station near Orlando even as the storm passes over and creates the first time-lapse film of a hurricane.
  • Typhoon Connie strikes the US Navy’s Fifth fleet east of the Okinawa.  Only five sailors die in the storm but 150 airplanes are damaged as are several ships.

 1940  75th anniversary

  • Gordon Dunn writes a pioneering paper on “isallobaric waves” over the tropical Atlantic.  These are later renamed African Easterly waves and are recognized as being the ’seedling’ of tropical cyclone formation in the region.
  • The US Weather Bureau is transferred to the the Department of Commerce.
  • A new suite of weather symbols is developed from Native American pictographs for use on Weather Bureau maps.  A circle with two spiral arms is adopted to represent hurricanes (filled) and tropical storms (not filled).

1935  80th anniversary

  • The US Weather Bureau reorganizes its Hurricane Warning service to include new hurricane forecast centers at New Orleans and Jacksonville in addition to Washington, DC and San Juan, PR.  A dedicated telegraph line is established to aid in the transmission of weather data and forecasts between these centers.  During hurricane season these new centers operate 24 hours a day, and when a hurricane threatens US landfall they issue bulletins every 6 hours.
  • The Labor Day Hurricane, the most severe storm to strike the United States, roars through the Florida Keys leaving over 400 dead.
  • A cyclone hits the Bay of Bengal shore of India and kills some 60,000 people.

  1930  85th anniversary

  • San Zenon hurricane strikes the Dominican Republic as a category-4 hurricane, killing between 2 and 8 thousand.  It is the fifth deadliest hurricane in the Atlantic.

 1915  100th anniversary

  • Two devastating hurricanes cause over 600 deaths this year.  One strikes the still recovering Galveston and the other hits New Orleans.

 1910 105th anniversary

  • The Hurricane of Five Days strikes western Cuba twice.  At first, the forecasters at Belen Observatory think it was two separate storms, but Jose Carlos Millas of the newly formed Cuban weather service hypothesizes that it was one hurricane that looped west of Cuba and came by for a second passage.  Subsequently collected ship data support this contention and the notion that hurricanes only follow parabolic paths is dismissed.

1900 115th anniversary

  • One of the deadliest natural disasters in US history, the Galveston hurricane kills around 12,000 people.

 1890 125th anniversary

  • The US Army’s weather service is reorganized into a civilian agency under the Dept. of Agriculture and named the United States Weather Bureau.

  1875 (140th anniversary)

  • Fr. Benito Vines issues his first hurricane forecast.

1870 145th anniversary

  • Fr. Benito Vines is appointed head of the Belen Observatory in Havana.  He subsequently organizes a weather observing network throughout Cuba and nearby islands and publishes several seminal works on hurricanes.
  • A national weather service is formed by the US Government under the Army’s Signal Corps.  The service ties together weather observatories across the nation by telegraph and begins to publish weather maps and forecasts.
  • San Marcos hurricane hits Cuba as a category 3, killing up to 2000.

1855 160th anniversary

  • Cuban naturalist Andres Poey compiles a chronology of storms to strike Cuba.  This list is subsequently used by Ivan Tannehill and Jose Carlos Millas as the basis for their catalogs of Atlantic hurricanes.

1815 200th anniversary

  • The Great September Gale strikes New England.  Harvard Professor Farrar observes the wind direction shifts as the storm passes to his east and concludes the storm is a giant vortex.

1780 235th anniversary

  • The Great Hurricane ravages the Caribbean and leaves over 20,000 dead, making it one of the deadliest Atlantic hurricanes.
  • Gulf of Mexico hurricane killed 2000.
  • Jamaican hurricane killed more than 1000.
  • These three hurricanes occur within weeks of each other, and for many years were assumed to be just one storm.

1775 240th anniversary

  • The Independence Hurricane rumbles over North Carolina and Virginia before blasting Newfoundland.  Nearly 4000 sailors are drowned.

 1715 300th anniversary

  • A Spanish silver fleet sailing from Havana to Cadiz is overtaken by a hurricane in the Bahamas Channel and wrecked upon the Florida shore.  Rediscovered in the 1940s, the remains of the fortune give the area the nickname “The Treasure Coast”.

 1635 380th anniversary

  • The Great Colonial Hurricanes strikes the recently formed Jamestown, Massachusetts Bay, and Plymouth colonies.

 1565  450th anniversary

  • A hurricane strikes a French fleet sailing to defend Ft. Caroline in Florida.  Lacking the support, the fort is taken by the Spanish from nearby St. Augustine and the French defenders are slaughtered.  This assures Spanish control of Florida for centuries.

HRD scientists win Department of Commerce Gold Medal

sealThree HRD scientists (Drs. Sundararaman Gopalakrishnan, Thiago Quirino, and Frank Marks) along with several National Weather Service (NWS) colleagues won a Department of Commerce Gold Medal for developing and implementing the high-resolution Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast System (HWRF) model, a major advance in operational hurricane intensity prediction. The highest honor bestowed by the Secretary of Commerce, a Gold Medal recognizes distinguished performance characterized by extraordinary, notable, or prestigious contributions that impact the mission of the Department and/or one operating unit and reflects favorably on the Department. Congratulations to the HWRF team on a well-deserved honor.