Photos taken from NOAA’s P-3 aircraft during Hurricane Hunter flights conducted on Saturday, August 22nd and Sunday, August 23rd inside Hurricane Danny. Peaking at Category 3 strength on Friday, August 21, Danny had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph as it churned in the Atlantic. Danny then weakened to a tropical depression due to interaction with high levels of wind shear and a mass of dry air in the Caribbean as it moved across the Lesser Antilles. The Hurricane Hunter missions profiled Danny’s wind structure with Tail Doppler Radar, conducted various projects in support of the Hurricane Research Division’s 2015 Field Program, and surveyed the ocean ahead of the storm in order to improve forecasts.
How do hurricanes form, survive, and intensify? Hurricane scientists have long believed upper ocean temperatures are the key factor. AOML’s Dr. Joe Cione reveals a new theory, after observing 62 Atlantic hurricanes of a span of 32 years, suggesting this common theory may not be all that accurate. If his theory holds, it could have the potential to significantly improve hurricane intensity forecasts for the nation.
Dr. Cione found that in addition to ocean temperature, the near-surface air temperature and moisture around the hurricane are also essential energy requirements for sustaining a hurricane. These two variables often play an even more important role than ocean temperature.