Mission Summary
20080901I1 Aircraft 43RF
Gustav 3D Doppler Winds flight 2008

Scientific Crew (43RF)
Lead Project ScientistEric Uhlhorn
Radar ScientistPaul Leighton
Dropsonde ScientistJun Zhang

Flight Crew (43RF)
PilotsM. Nelson
C. Newman
A. Ebhardt
Flight DirectorJ. Parrish
NavigatorT. Gallagher
Flt. Eng.Dewey
Data TechT. Lynch
J. Smith
Elec. TechD. Naher
Steve Wade

Mission Plan :

N43RF will fly a EMC-tasked Tail Doppler Winds mission into Hurricane Gustav. It will leave MacDill AFB, FL at 08:00 UTC, and recover at MacDill. The planned flight altitude was 12000'. Additionally, a landfall mission was coordinated with a land-based deployment, as well as a drifer/float buoy overflight. The pattern consisted of a rotated figure-4, modified somewhat in relation to the coastline and real-time ocean buoy locations. Several other flight modules were conducted, as discussed below.

Mission Summary :

Take off Landing
MacDill AFB, FL08:13 UTC MacDill AFB, FL15:15 UTC

General synopsis: N43RF took off from KMCF at 0813 UTC on 1 Sept, departing toward the WNW en route to an IP 105 nmi to the NE of the center, just offshore of Biloxi. While approaching the IP, a band of cellular convection was found lined up offshore of Mobile Bay1 . The IP was reached at 0922 UTC, when N43RF began Leg #1, proceeding toward the SW passing through the center (MSLP 956 mb) at 0951 UTC. The leg ended at 1015 UTC, when the aircraft turn to the E for an overflight of ocean buoys2 before beginning a second pass through the storm. Leg #2 begun 105 nmi SE of the center at 1049 UTC, proceeding to the NW through the storm, eventually flying directly toward the TTU StickNet array located to the SW of New Orleans, LA3. After completing the leg, N43RF turned to the S to perform an offshore-flow module4, and ending at a point W of the center to begin Leg #3 at 1209 UTC heading E through the storm. After completing Leg #3 E of the center, the aircraft descended to 7000' and turned toward the N, flying just E of the Chandelleur Is toward Bay St. Louis. An onshore-flow/SFMR shallow-water module45 was performed along this leg. Just before reaching the coastline, N43RF ascended back to 12000' and turned toward the W over Lake Ponchartrain (darn - wish we had dropped sondes over the lake!), flying to a point due N of the center. Leg #4 was begun at 1311 UTC, proceeding N to S, and completed at 1350 UTC, at which time N43RF turned E for a second buoy overflight. The pattern was completed at 1423 UTC, and the aircraft returned to KMCF at 1515 UTC.

1. TC rainband supercells: Along the route toward the IP, a pair of rainbands containing highly cellular convection was found offshore of Mobile Bay. N43RF altered the flight path slightly to pass between cells, and then paralleled a band for 5-7 minutes. Three GPS dropsondes were deployed in succession beginning at 0910 UTC, spaced 2 minutes apart.

Figure 1. Rainband experiment. LF radar reflectivity with flight track and GPS dropsonde locations (left), and TA radar cut through cell to right (N) of flight track (right).

2. Buoy overflights: A primary mission goal was to overfly ocean floats and drifters deployed by the 53rd three days prior. A total of 12 buoys were deployed along and ahead of Gustav’s track. Two E-to-W legs were flown over the general location of the floats, providing SFMR surface winds and near-surface atmospheric data from GPS dropsondes to assess sea-surface forcings. In all, 24 dropsondes and 10 AXBTs were dropped in the vicinity of the floats.

Figure 2. Flight track and expendable locations relative to ocean buoy trajectories.

3. Coordinated Landfall mission: Since Gustav was in the process of making landfall during the flight, a mission was coordinated with land-based sensors. Several groups were involved, including TTU, FCMP, and UAH. See figure below for locations.

Figure 3. Flight track near land showing locations of land-based towers. Also shown are locations where on-shore/off-shore/shallow water modules were performed.

4. On-shore/off-shore flow: To assess boundary-layer structural differences between off-shore and on-shore flow, a series of GPS dropsondes were deployed in these regimes. Six sondes were dropped in offshore flow (NW of center) beginning at 1146 UTC, spaced around 2 minutes apart. On-shore winds were measured to the NE of the center from a set of 5 sondes dropped beginning at 1237 UTC. See Fig. 3.

5. SFMR in shallow water: Much of the flight was conducted over coastal waters with depths less than 50 m. Numerous dropsondes were deployed over the shelf to evaluate SFMR wind measurement capabilities in shallow water. In particular, the on-shore flow leg to the E/NE of the storm was flown over very shallow water, just east of sandbars associated with the Chandelleur Is. string. See Fig. 3.

Four Doppler wind analyses were completed and transmitted.

Summary of Expendables
GPS dropwindsondes44

Figure 4. LF radar reflectivity (left), Flight-level and SFMR wind and rainrate for Leg #1 (center), and VIS sat. image and flight track, with GPS dropwindsondes in green, AXBTs in blue (right).

Problems :

No major problems to report.

23 April 2009

Mission Data

Dropsonde plots
700 mb
850 mb
925 mb

NetCDF listing | One second listing

Flight Data

Flight track

Temperature and Moisture

Wind and Atlitude

Page last updated April 23, 2009
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