Joe Cione earns Department of Commerce Silver Medal

josephjcioneCongratulations to Joe Cione, part of the team to earn a Department of Commerce Silver Medal “for successfully executing the first-ever launch of an Unmanned Aircraft System from a manned aircraft into a major hurricane, Hurricane Edouard.”  The entire team includes AOML’s Erica Rule, as well as crew members from NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations CDR Nancy Hann, CDR Kristie Twining, LCDR Justin Kibbey, James Roles, Jeff Smith, Steven Paul, Andrew Hornbeck, Joseph Bosko.  Congratulations to everyone!

HRD Monthly Science Meeting of July 2015

July’s science meeting consisted of 7 presentations:

  1. Hugh Willoughby (FIU) – Synthesis of Vortex Rossby Waves
  2. Lisa Bucci – Aircraft Simulation Study
  3. Jon Zawislak (FIU) – Evolution of the Thermodynamic Structure During Intensification of Hurricane Edouard (2014)
  4. Evan Kalina – Sensitivity of dropsonde temperature and moisture analyses to the averaging time scale
  5. Joshua Wadler (Hollings scholar from U. Oklahoma) – Radial Variations in Convective Burst Structure in Tropical Cyclones from Airborne Doppler Observations
  6. John D’Alessandro (summer intern) – Simulating SFMR flight data from an HWRF model simulation of Hurricane Earl
  7. Kurt Hansen (Hollings scholar from SUNY Albany) – Downdrafts in Tropical Cyclones

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

Paper on the statistical prediction of hurricane rapid intensification released online in Weather and Forecasting

Summary: The paper describes new models to forecast the probability of when tropical cyclones may strengthen rapidly during the next 48 h when the National Hurricane Center issues watches and warnings to the public. The models are expected to be run during the latter portion of the 2015 Hurricane season.

Important Conclusions:

  • The new models are more skillful in predicting when a tropical cyclone may intensify rapidly than existing models.
  • The new models are far more accurate for systems located in the Eastern North Pacific region than those in the Atlantic.
  • Conditions in the Atlantic overall appear to be less favorable for rapid strengthening than in the East Pacific, and are therefore less predictable.
  • The new models show the potential to provide more accurate forecasts than provided by existing models.

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The paper can be accessed at

10th Anniversary of Hurricane Dennis

Hurricane Dennis on July 7th (NASA)

Hurricane Dennis on July 7th (NASA)

On July 8, 2005, Hurricane Dennis became one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded in July.  It formed into a tropical depression on July 4th and struck the island of Grenada in the eastern Caribbean Sea.  It moved quickly northwestward while it strengthened.  It became a hurricane on July 6th while south of the island of Hispañola, then underwent rapid intensification.  By the 7th it was a Category Four hurricane, the earliest in the hurricane season that a tropical cyclone has been recorded at that strength.  Later that day, Dennis made landfall at Punta del Inglés, Cuba with sustained winds of 140 mph (220 km/hr).  While its strength dipped as it was briefly over land, its wind grew to 150 mph (240 km/hr) once it moved back over the Sea.  It then made a second landfall at Punta Mangles Altos, Cuba with as much force as it had struck Punta del Inglés.  Crossing Cuba reduced Dennis to Category One status, but in again rebounded once over the warm Gulf Loop Current north of the island.  As it tracked north-northwest toward the Florida/Alabama coast, its winds peaked at 145 mph (234 km/hr), but luckily diminished to 120 mph (195 km/hr) just prior to landfall.  The remnants of Dennis persisted for another three days as it meandered over the Midwest and Canada, dumping heavy tropical rains along the way.

Dennis 2005 track (Unisys)

Dennis 2005 track (Unisys)

38 people lost their lives when Dennis had its impact on Cuba and Haiti, and another 15 in the United States.  The storm caused an estimated US $4 billion in damages along its path.  The name Dennis was retired from the Atlantic lists.  Dennis was also a harbinger of the very busy 2005 hurricane season that would witness many new record-breaking storms.  Indeed, Hurricane Emily would surpass Dennis’ early-season record only six days later.

HRD flew many missions into Hurricane Dennis, and six manuscripts on the data have been published:

Kaplan, J., C. M. Rozoff, M. DeMaria, C. R. Sampson, J. P. Kossin, C. S. Velden, J. J. Cione, J. P. Dunion, J. A. Knaff, J. A. Zhang, J. F. Dostalek, J. D. Hawkins, T. F. Lee, and J. E. Solbrig, 2015:  Evaluating environmental impacts on tropical cyclone rapid intensification predictability utilizing statistical models.  Wea. and Forecast., in press.

Rozoff, C. M., C. S. Velden, J. Kaplan, J. P. Kossin, and A. J. Wimmers, 2015:  Improvements in the probabilistic prediction of tropical cyclone rapid intensification with passive microwave observations. Wea. and Forecast., in press.

Rogers, R., 2010:  Convective-Scale Structure and Evolution during a High-Resolution Simulation of Tropical Cyclone Rapid Intensification.  J. Atmos. Sci., 67, 44-70.

Halverson, J., M. Black, R. Rogers, S. Braun, G. Heymsfield, D. Cecil, M. Goodman, R. Hood, A. Heymsfield, T. Krishnamurti, G. McFarquhar, M. J. Mahoney, J. Molinari, J. Turk, C. Velden, D-L. Zhang, E. Zipser, R. Kakar, 2007:  Nasa’s Tropical Cloud Systems and Processes Experiment.  Bull. Amer. Met. Soc., 88, 867-882.

Rogers, R., S. Aberson, M. Black, P. Black, J. Cione, P. Dodge, J. Gamache, J. Kaplan, M. Powell, J. Dunion, E. Uhlhorn, N. Shay, N. Surgi, 2006:  The Intensity Forecasting Experiment: A NOAA Multiyear Field Program for Improving Tropical Cyclone Intensity Forecasts.  Bull. Amer. Met. Soc., 87, 1523-1537.

DeMaria, M., J. A. Knaff, J. Kaplan, 2006:  On the Decay of Tropical Cyclone Winds Crossing Narrow Landmasses.  J. Appl. Met. Clim., 45, 491-499.

Frank Marks and Jason Dunion discuss how good hurricane forecasts are and plans for the upcoming hurricane season with the New Orleans Times-Picayune

Joe Cione and Paul Reasor also appear in this article, which can be found at Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 12.39.04 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-02 at 12.39.47 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-02 at 12.39.10 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-02 at 12.39.24 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 12.40.25 PM

Paper on the relative roles of the ocean and atmosphere in maintaining hurricanes published in Monthly Weather Review

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Until now, it was believed that hurricanes are maintained by the ocean alone.  Observations from 62 hurricanes during 32 years support a different, nuanced conclusion.  Besides the ocean, near-surface air temperature and moisture play a large, often dominant, role in maintaining a hurricane.

Important conclusions:

1.  The long-held belief that an ocean surface temperature of at least 26 degrees C (80 degrees F) is required to maintain a hurricane was not supported in 6% of the cases studied.  Atmospheric moisture conditions in areas of high wind speeds are what cause the “80-degree F threshold” for hurricanes.

2.  For hurricanes within 29 degrees of the equator, the atmosphere, not the ocean, was found to be the most important factor in maintaining the hurricane.

The full paper can be accessed at