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Hurricane Research Division Milestones

  • Tropical cyclone wind radii estimation using an empirical inland wind decay model
    June 2008

    A method for estimating the maximum wind, and 34,50, and 64 kt wind radii of landfalling tropical cyclones utilizing the operational NHC storm structure and track forecasts and a revised version of the Kaplan/DeMaria decay model was developed as part of the NOAA Joint Hurricane Testbed (JHT). This technique was declared operational by the NHC for use in both the Atlantic and East Pacific basins prior to the 2008 Hurricane Season.
  • A revised tropical cyclone rapid intensity index for the Atlantic and East Pacific basins
    June 2008

    A revised version of the original SHIPS rapid intensity index (RII) was developed for the Atlantic and East Pacific basins as part of the NOAA Joint Hurricane Testbed (JHT). The revised RII uses predictors from the Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction Scheme (SHIPS) to estimate the probability of rapid intensification (RI) for 3 different RI thresholds (25,30, and 35 kt) utilizing linear discriminant analysis. The RII was declared operational by the NHC prior to the 2008 Hurricane Season.
  • Validation of Hurricane Surface Winds Measured by the HRD SFMR
    January 2003

    The HRD Stepped-Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR) that is carried aboard NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft has been determined to be the most accurate and reliable remote sensing device available for measuring hurricane force winds at the sea surface. Results of a study show that surface winds measured by the SFMR are comparable to the Global Positioning Systems (GPS) dropwindsonde measurements that are the current standard. The benefit of the SFMR is that winds are continuously measured during flights, allowing for more complete mapping of hurricane surface wind structure.
    Press Release
    Scientific paper available through Eric Uhlhorn's webpage
  • Distributed Real-Time Hurricane Wind Analysis System
    October 2001

    The H*Wind program integrates information from a variety of platforms in and around a hurricane and creates a real-time wind field analyses, for use by the hurricane specialists.

  • Designed a satellite-based modem method for transmitting data from the NOAA WP-3 aircraft

    October 2001

    Designed a system that allows satellite communication with the computers onboard the NOAA WP-3 hurricane aircraft to fascilitate the real-time transfer of data.

  • Rapid Intensification Index
    August 2001

    A technique for estimating the probability of tropical cyclone rapid intensification (RI) using the operational SHIPS model output was developed for the Atlantic basin. This product was provided to NHC hurricane forecasters in real-time in support of Joint Hurricane Testbed (JHT).

  • Atlantic hurricane data (HURDAT) re-analysis project
    August 2000

    This project has extended the Atlantic hurricane database back 35 additional years so that it now covers the period of 1851 to date. It includes the estimated tracks and intensities for all tropical storms and hurricanes every six hours, the "raw" observations from ships and coastal stations from which the HURDAT was derived, specific U.S. landfall data, basin-wide track maps of all tropical storms and hurricanes, and comments from/replies to the OAR's Best Track Change Committee.
  • First (only) real-time hurricane ensemble forecasting system
    June 2000

    A 41-member daily hurricane track ensemble forecasting system using the VICBAR shallow water model has been run during the 1998 and 1999 hurricane seasons and will be run in realtime during the 2000 hurricane season. These forecasts will provide, for the first time, estimates of the reliability of individual forecasts and probabilistic landfall forecasts based on numerical guidance.

  • Improvements in track forecasts / targeting of observations

    By finding locations in which the atmosphere is unstable to small perturbations, and by sampling in and around these targets with dropwindsondes, improvements of up to 35% can be achieved in forecasts through four days.
  • Transmission of airborne surface wind speed and rainrate measurements
    August 1999

    The airborne Step Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR) measures microwave emissions from the ocean surface at six frequencies. These are transformed with radiative transfer equations to obtain measurements of surface wind speed and rain rate below the aircraft. These data are transmitted in real time.

  • Ground-based hurricane wind fields from single Doppler Radar
    September 1998

    Doppler wind data from a single land-based radar can be used to deduce the tropical cyclone windfield in much the same manner as data from a single airborne Doppler Radar. These wind fields can provide continuous monitoring of tropical cyclones as they approach landfall along the U. S. coast for the first time.

  • Surface wave measurements from aircraft in tropical cyclones
    August 1998

    An airborne scanning radar altimeter (SRA) generates a topographic map of the sea surface in hurricanes over open ocean. Wave heights, their variation around the tropical cyclone, and their direction of motion are all measured, and can provide realtime estimates of wave height and storm surge at landfall.

  • First (only) skillful realtime hurricane intensity forecast model
    June 1998

    The Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction (SHIPS) model provides the first and only consistently skillful guidance for tropical cyclone intensity prediction.

  • Warm oceanic features and hurricane intensity change
    January 1998

    Regular satellite-based oceanic topographic information provides information on the underlying ocean structure, such as warm rings and boundaries. Passage of hurricanes over such features affects their intensity, allowing for improvements in intensity forecasting especially in cases of rapid intensification.

  • First high-resolution measurements of vertical wind and thermodynamic structure in hurricanes
    July 1997

    Newly-developed dropwindsondes based upon Global Positioning System technology can measure winds every half second during descent in the eyewall of tropical cyclones. These measurements have become the standard by which studies of the reduction of flight-level winds to surface winds are made, and is now standard operational procedure on all reconnaissance flights.

  • Empirical Hurricane Inland Intensity Model
    January 1996

    An empirical model for predicting the winds in landfalling hurricanes has been developed for the Gulf and east coasts of the U.S. This model predicting the two-dimensional field of maximum surface winds (wind swath) for storms after landfall. As of the 2000 hurricane season this model is included in the operational SHIPS model, to make possible over land predictions of intensity.

  • Shift to climatologically active Atlantic hurricane seasons
    Cover article SCIENCE 20 July 2001

    In the 70's and 80's, the overall hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin was much lower than the previous several decades, especially the stronger ("major") hurricanes. Several long-term climatic signals have been found to have shifted, first in 1988, and again in 1995, leading to the conclusion that the Atlantic had shifted back into a more active and destructive phase that might last for at least the next 10-20 years.

  • Vertically Scanning Doppler Radar
    August 1996

    A Vertically Scanning Doppler Radar (VSDR) has been developed for use on the NOAA aircraft. This instrument directly measures wind velocity beneath the aircraft, and can provide wind profiles through the boundary layer.

  • Global Positioning System Dropwindsonde
    August 1996

    The GPS dropwindsonde was developed for use with NOAA and Air Force aircraft to take measurements in the environment and inner core of hurricanes to improve their analysis and forecast.

  • Real-time hurricane surface wind analyses
    August 1995

    A real-time system for objectively analyzing meteorological observations in hurricanes using a common framework for wind exposure, measurement height, and averaging time, has been developed. These analyses are presented to NHC hurricane specialists as often as eight times per day and have become the standard for assessing winds from new remote sensing platforms. They are used to initialize numerical forecast models, to provide forcing for storm surge models, and in disaster management.

  • Transmission of airborne radar reflectivity images and Doppler windfields from within the hurricane
    September 1993

    Radar images of hurricanes, and analyses of windfields from Doppler rada, previously only available from coastal radars when the hurricane was near landfall, are now regularly available from the NOAA research aircraft. This enables specialists to see convective features in hurricanes generally obscured from satellites by high clouds and windfield structure inside the storm. Features such as eyewall replacement cycles and asymmetries that can help in forecasting of intensity are now regularly seen before landfall.

    National Hurricane Research Laboratory Achievements

    National Hurricane Research Project Achievements

    • First hurricane flown throughout its life cycle.

      NHRP follows a disturbance in the western Carribbean until it makes landfall in Texas as Hurricane Carla 1961. They were able to fly fourteen scientific missions into the growing storm over six days, the first time a tropical cyclone had been followed from its formation at sea to landfall as a major hurricane.

    • First successful deployment of a beacon balloon in a hurricane
      September 26, 1958

      Air Force Hurricane Hunters deploy a constant pressure balloon-borne radio beacon into the eye of Hurricane Helene 1958 in coordination with the NHRP aircraft. Balloon remains in th eye's center of circulation and is tracked remotely for two hours. Bob Simpson wins a steak dinner from Herb Riehl in a bet over whether such a balloon would stay in the eye or be carried out.

    • First three plane scientific mission into a hurricane
      September 15, 1957

      Both NHRP's dedicated Air Force B-50 aircraft fly a scientific investigation into Hurricane Carrie 1957 in coordination with the B-47 high altitude jet, the first such planned coordinated flights between three planes.

    • First two plane scientific mission into a hurricane
      November 2, 1956

      One of NHRP's dedicated Air Force B-50 aircraft flies a scientific investigation into Hurricane Greta 1956 in coordination with the NHRP B-47 high altitude jet, the first such planned coordinated flights.

    • First flight into a hurricane where data is automatically recorded
      August 14, 1956

      Noel LaSeur flies aboard one of NHRP's dedicated Air Force B-50 aircraft into Hurricane Betsy 1956, the second flight of the Project's field program and the first such flight where the automatic data recording system works. The punch card deck of data is accidently dropped and scattered on the tarmac. Several years of dedicated graduate student work is needed to recover the information in proper order.

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