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Hurricanes at Landfall

Principal Investigator Peter Dodge

Collaborating Scientists

Goals :

One of HRD's goals is to "Enhance the ability to diagnose and predict the impact of tropical cyclones (TC) on life and property through wind, rain, waves, and storm surge". The prime impact will be felt at landfall. The TC decays as it moves inland, but this aspect of intensity change (another HRD goal) is not well understood. An accurate description of the tropical cyclone wind field near and after landfall, derived from airborne and surface observations, is essential for documenting intensity change, as well as damage to life and property. Data transmitted to the Tropical Prediction Center (TPC) in real time can be used in warning, preparedness and recovery.

Objective :

  • Collect and analyze data to observe intensity change at and after landfall.
  • Coordinate deployment of mobile platforms to best capture intensity and intensity change at landfall.
  • Transmit Flight-level, remotely-sensed (Tail Doppler radar, SFMR and C-SCAT/IWRAP winds) and near-surface observations (GPS sondes) to TPC for inclusion in H*Wind analyses during landfall.
  • Generate wind fields synthesized from the observations and use them to diagnose intensity change processes at landfall.

Method :

When a hurricane is forecast to make landfall in the continental US, the collaborating scientists are contacted to plan for coordinated deployment of mobile observing platforms along the coast and inland. At the same time flight patterns are designed to enable the collection of fine-scale radar, sonde and surface data along the coast. Modules are also planned for inland flights to measure inland decay, safety permitting. These plans are continually updated and refined as the storm approaches land.

During the landfall one or two WP-3D aircraft fly patterns designed to collect data near the mobile sites in both onshore and offshore flow regimes. After the experiment each group is responsible for data collection, calibration and verification.

John Gamache's radar wind synthesis algorithms will be applied to Doppler radar data from all available platforms to generate landfall wind fields. Then these analyses will be combined with data from GPS sondes and surface platforms to generate boundary layer profiles in onshore and offshore flow regimes.

Milestones :

  • Publish results from WSR 88D Doppler radar data analyzed for the transit of Hurricane Wilma across South Florida.
  • Publish Hurricane Bonnie mesovortex paper.

Accomplishments :

Presentation at AMS Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology Conference
Orlando,FL 2008

Field Program:

Comprehensive data sets were collected in Hurricane Lili as it crossed the Louisiana coast on 3 October, 2002, and in Hurricane Isabel on 18 September 2003, when it crossed the North Carolina coast near Morehead City. These experiments included mobile deployments of several Doppler radars and wind towers and NOAA research flights. The P3's collected Doppler radar and GPS sonde data near the surface stations: In Isabel, the radar teams obtained the first direct three-dimensional evidence of boundary-layer features (perhaps rolls), supported by wind tower data.

The 2004 Hurricane Season was remarkable for the number of hurricanes that struck Florida. The mobile tower and radar teams deployed in Hurricanes Charley (FCMP), Frances (FCMP, TTU, OU, CSWR), Ivan (FCMP, TTU, OU, CSWR, University of Southern Alabama), and Jeanne (FCMP). NOAA 43 flew tasked landfall missions in Hurricanes Frances, Ivan and Jeanne; HRD scientists were on board to coordinate additional sonde drops along the coast near the deployed ground teams and to quality-control the sonde and radar data. Analysis of the landfall data are underway to better define the boundary layer wind features observed in these storms.

In July 2005 HRD flew two missions in Hurricane Dennis as it made landfall in Alabama. The second flight was notable because it was a post landfall flight designed to observe decay after landfall. The second flight was almost entirely over land, and some radiosondes were dropped over uninhabited areas inland. The combination of sonde and radar data should supply PBL winds to compare against the Kaplan-DeMaria decay model, On 29 August 2005 NOAA 43 flew a mission in Hurricane Katrina as it made its destructive landfall first on the delta and then in New Orleans. A key feature of this flight was the use of new UBLOX sondes that should, after post processing, provide detailed wind profiles at the coast as well as inland. These data will also be used to validate SFMR surface wind estimates. Mobile tower teams were deployed in both storms as well.

Mission descriptions of these and earlier storms can be found in the storm data section of the HRD web page (; these documents include maps with flight tracks and mobile platform locations, lists of sondes deployed and sample radar images.

Fortunately there were no hurricane landfalls in 2006 and 2007, with the exception of Hurricane Humberto which developed and made landfall in 24 hours, too short to deploy a research mission.

Analyses :

Airborne data and WSR 88D data collected in Katrina were included in a series of surface wind analyses produced by HRD for the US Army Corps of Engineers to aid in improving storm surge models. WSR 88D data collected in Hurricane Wilma (2005) were analyzed to produce a map of maximum Doppler winds adjusted to the surface to aid in estimating maximum wind speeds and their relation to the extensive damage to the power grid in South Florida. This project was completed as part of a Memorandum of Understanding with Florida Power and Light.

References :

Powell, M. D., P. Dodge, and Michael L. Black, 1991: The landfall of Hurricane Hugo in the Carolinas: Surface wind distribution. Wea. Forecast., 6, 379-399.

Dodge, P.P., S.H. Houston, W.-C. Lee, J.F. Gamache, and F.D. Marks, 1999. Windfields in Hurricane Danny (1997) at landfall from combined WSR-88D and airborne Doppler radar data. Preprints, 23rd Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology, Dallas, TX, American Meteorological Society, Boston, 61-62

Dodge, P.P., J.F. Gamache, S.H. Houston, and F.D. Marks, Jr. 1999. Windfields in Landfalling Hurricanes from Multiple Doppler Radar Data: the 1998 Hurricane Season. Preprints, 29th International Conference on Radar Meteorology, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. American Meteorological Society, Boston, 273 -275

Dodge, P.P., S.M. Spratt, F.D. Marks, D.W. Sharp, and J.F. Gamache, 2000. Dual-Doppler analyses of mesovortices in a hurricane rainband. Preprints, 24th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, American Meteorological Society, Boston, 302-303

Dodge, P.P., S.T. Murillo, F.D. Marks, W.-C. Lee, P. Harasti, and C. MacAdie, 2001. Comparison of winds derived from single-radar GBVTD and dual-Doppler analyses in Hurricane Bret (1999) at landfall. Minutes, 55th Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference, Orlando, FL, Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research, Washington, D.C., BP27-BP28

Marks, F.D., P.P. Dodge, and C. Sandin, 1999. WSR-88D observations of hurricane atmospheric boundary layer structure at landfall. Preprints, 23rd Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology, Dallas, TX, American Meteorological Society, Boston, 1051-1054

Mayrinck, C.E., P.P. Dodge, F.D. Marks, S.H. Houston, and J.F. Gamache, 2002. Evolution of the coastal windfield during the landfall of Hurricane Floyd (1999). Preprints, 25th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology, San Diego, CA, American Meteorological Society, Boston, 337-338

Harasti, P. R., C. J. McAdie, P. P. Dodge, W. C. Lee, J. Tuttle, S. T. Murillo, F. D. Marks, Jr, 2004: Real-time implementation of single-Doppler analysis methods for tropical cyclones: algorithm improvements and use with WSR-88D display data. Weather and Forecasting, 19, 219-239

Landsea, C. W., J. L. Franklin, C. J. McAdie, J. L. Beven II, J. M. Gross, B. R. Jarvinen, R. J. Pasch, E. N. Rappaport, J. P. Dunion, and P. P. Dodge 2004: A Re-analysis of Hurricane Andrew's (1992) Intensity. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 85, 1699-1712.

Dodge, P. P., J. Gamache, E. Uhlhorn, D. Estaban and P. Chang, 2004: Onshore and Offshore wind flow regimes at the landfall of Hurricane Isabel (2003) Preprints, 26th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology, Miami Beach, FL, American Meteorological Society, Boston, 564-565.

Dodge, P.P., M.L. Black, J.L. Franklin, J.F. Gamache, and F.D. Marks. 2002: High-resolution observations of the eyewall in an intense hurricane: Bret on 21-22 August 1999. Preprints, 25th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology, San Diego, CA, American Meteorological Society, Boston, 607-608.

Howard, R., P. Dodge, A. Doggett, J. Finney, K. Gurley, M. Levitan , T. Reinhold, J. Schroeder, G. Stone, 2003: The Landfall of Hurricane Lili in Louisiana: A Summary of Cooperative Data Collection Efforts, International Conference on Wind Engineering, Lubbock, Texas

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Last modified: 11/26/2007

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