Mission Summary
20030918H1 Aircraft 42RF
Landfall experiment
into Hurricane Isabel 2003

Scientific Crew (42RF)
Lead ScientistsPeter Dodge
Paul Chang
Workstation ScientistPaul Leighton
Cloud Physics ScientistBob Black
Radar ScientistJohn Gamache
IWRAP ScientistDaniel Esteban Fernandez
NESDIS Real TimeTim Mavor
ObserverJim McFadden
ReporterChris Muncie
Aircraft Crew (42RF)
PilotsCDR Phil Kennedy
LCDR Tom Strong
LT Mike Silah
NavigatorLCDR John Adler
Flight DirectorsTom Shepherd
Paul Flaherty
TechniciansSean McMilan
Mark Rogers
Bobby Peek
Flight EngineersGreg Bast
Steve Wade
Mission Plan :

The flight will leave MacDill AFB, FL at 8:00 AM EDT and recover at 6:00 PM EDT at MacDill AFB, FL. It is executing a Landfall experiment as Hurricane Isabel comes ashore.

The research flight plan was designed to accomplish two goals:

  1. Collect data over the ocean in high wind regimes for the Ocean Winds project, and
  2. Collect data during the landfall of the hurricane in support of HRD's Tropical Cyclone Windfields at Landfall.
Preliminary flight tracks were drawn up with initial figure 4 in the storm, followed by eyewall and rainbands passes, and concluding with a track passing over the mobile surface platforms deployes along the North Carolina coast.

An incredible array of portable wind towers and Doppler radars were deployed in eastern North Carolina: 4 towers from a combined Clemson University - University of Florida team were erected right at the coast (CUUF T0-T3), 3 Portable radars from the Center for Severe Weather Research (DOWs) were located with a Texas Tech WEMITE wind tower on a small spit of land in Pamlico Sound, TTU and University of Oklahoma teams set up SMART-R radars at two inland locations to examine mesoscale and convective scale features. TTU also deployed other towers in a grid to examine coherent structures in the boundary layer.

Mission Summary :

Four radar composites were transmitted which showed evidence of an inner eyewall trying to form before the storm made landfall. There were also about 32 dropsondes released during the flight.

NOAA 42 left Tampa at 1202 UTC, 18 September 2003, and reached our IP at ~1350 UTC, near buoy 41002. Figure 2 shows the flight track and figure 3 shows the GPS sonde splash locations. The aircraft descended to 7,000 ft and remained at that altitude until the over land portion of the flight. The eyewall was already on the coast (Figure 4a) so the eyewall pattern was truncated. We then flew several short legs in and out of the eyewall to collect IWRAP and sonde data in the higher winds. During this time the remnants of the inner eyewall seemed to develop a crescent shaped region of convection, as if the inner eyewall was reforming.

Numerous sondes were deployed in near Diamond Shoals which should be compared with the data collected at the T3 CUUF tower on Cape Hatteras. At 1710 we made a run up the coast to DUCN7 to investigate the transition in the windfield as the wind moved on shore. In hindsight we should have planned our track to be more parallel to the surface wind but these sonde data should still be valuable to describe the changes in this region, especially when combined with the T0 tower data.

After turning to head South after dropping a GPS sonde at buoy 44014, at 1758 we climbed to 12,000 ft to begin an over land pattern. By this time the center of the storm was about equidistant from the two SMART-R radars. We flew an upwind pattern starting at CLKN7 then passing over the two SMART-R radars, then back to the coast to tower T3. During that eastern leg we passed right through the inner convective feature (Figure 4b). The research portion of the flight finished by passing near the DOWs and other TTU tower. We left the storm at 1937 and landed at MacDill at 2150 UTC.

Evaluation :

This hybrid mission went well. Most of the sondes worked and the radar functioned well. We had some confusion in the second part of the flight while planning the overland portion, but once everyone got on the same page things went well. In future landfall flights we must make sure that everyone has a list and map of all the surface stations so that communications go smoothly between LPS, Flight Director and the Flight Crew.

Acknowledgments :

Paul Flaherty, Tom Shepherd John Adler, and the flight crew flew a complicated pattern with their usual dedication and attention to detail. Sean McMillan kept the radar running, while Mark Rogers and Bobby Peek managed to keep up with our evolving plans for AXBT and GPS sonde drops.

Problems :

When the Lower Fuselage radar is operated in sector mode, to avoid interference with the IWRAP, the LF display and data archival are degraded significantly. The IWRAP should be modified to avoid this problem, as the LF is an important instrument during landfall flights.

Peter Dodge
Lead Scientist

Mission Data :

One second listing

Flight Data

Flight track

Temperature and Moisture

Wind and Altitude

Flight track


Figure 1 Map showing surface stations and track.. The black diamonds indicate mobile instruments deployed during the landfall, and red diamonds indicate moored buoys and surface C-Man stations. Solid rings show the 150 km range from each WSR-88D, and dotted rings indicate 230 km - the maximum range for Doppler data. The track is derived from the operational half-hourly fixes supplied by NHC.

Figure 2 NOAA 42 Flight track, 1420 to 1930 UTC, Surface stations and range rings same as in figure 1.

Figure 3 Map of sonde splash locations Bad sondes are plotted at launch locations.

Figure 4 WSR-88D images from the Morehead City (KMHX) WSR-88D showing reflectivity at a) 1431 UTC and b.) 1901 UTC., 18 September 2003.


Table 1 Operational Centers
Time Lat Lon
163334.75076.150replaced 34.810 -75.950
165434.85076.333USAF Recco

Note : These positions are from NHC's list of
operational 88D center positions, except for 1654 UTC
which is from the Air Force.

Table 2 GPS Sondes
Sonde ID Time
Lat Lon Comments
1024125007141933.4875.21EYEWALL 180 LST 010 DLM 24076 978766 MBL 24082 WL150 23576 085
2024125010142133.7075.28WL150 23088 102 DLM 23590 970764 MBL 23591 LST 027 EYEWALL 180
3023555110142333.7775.31DLM 23579 968760 EYEWALL 180
4023555108143934.9175.61near coast, no winds
5024125005144035.0175.71WL150 07595 136 DLM 09603 967760 MBL 08097 LST 061 EYEWALL 000
6023555011144335.1875.66WL150 08075 085 DLM 09596 976766 MBL 08591 EYEWALL 000
7023555016144635.0675.66WL150 08089 112 DLM 09601 969760 MBL 08099 LST 037 EYEWALL 000
8023555104150434.2276.47WL150 31074 085 DLM 34575 968763 MBL 32083 EYEWALL 270
9023555012150434.2076.50WL150 31068 085 DLM 33578 970753 MBL 31574 EYEWALL 270
10023555120150734.1276.66WL150 30075 108 DLM 33573 975762 MBL 30581 LST 033 EYEWALL 270
11023555105151834.1776.49WL150 29570 085 DLM 32575 971763 MBL 30077 DLM 32575 971763
12023555017153134.6976.31WL150 04044 085 DLM 05040 962755 MBL 05046
13023555013154835.0875.50WL150 10087 085 DLM 12609 967757 MBL 11097 EYEWALL 045
14023555112154935.1575.39WL150 10581 085 DLM 12601 973763 MBL 11095 EYEWALL 045
15023555119160634.9075.63eyewall NE, not sent: GA problems
16024125207161934.2575.77WL150 23078 107 DLM 23576 967758 MBL 23584 LST 032 EYEWALL 180
17024125212162034.2075.77WL150 23577 085 DLM 24078 970759 MBL 23587 EYEWALL 180
18023555103162834.2475.79WL150 23079 096 DLM 24074 969762 MBL 23586 LST 021 EYEWALL 180
19024125182163634.3675.70WL150 22082 086 DLM 22577 971758 MBL 22587 LST 011 EYEWALL 180 SST 278
20024125204164934.5675.64WL150 20073 085 DLM 20582 968760 MBL 20579 EYEWALL 135
21024125011170635.1875.62WL150 13587 197 DLM 15604 958758 MBL 14091 LST 122 EYEWALL 090
22024125181170735.2275.55WL150 13083 085 DLM 15107 970759 MBL 14091
23024125206172536.2575.77WL150 08567 085 DLM 11092 987772 MBL 09078 RAINBAND
24024125287172936.3575.53WL150 09068 085 DLM 10587 990895 MBL 10081 RAINBAND
25023555107173436.4775.24WL150 10061 085 DLM 11584 994779 MBL 10573 RAINBAND
26023555111173936.6074.94WL150 10561 085 DLM 12078 996778 MBL 11068 RAINBAND
27023555100183534.6776.36WL150 24063 085 DLM 24563 975644 MBL 25069 RAINBAND
28024125179184934.9976.88DLM 29049 952644 MBL 27565 LST 188
29024125185191135.3276.23no winds
30024125209192735.0276.17WL150 21053 085 DLM 21069 978646 MBL 21560
31024125227193734.6176.78no winds

1. Where sonde had no winds, launch location is listed
2. Times listed are launch times; sondes usually splashed ~ 2 min later.
3. Comments are from messages transmitted to NHC
Table 3 AXBT drops
Launch Time (UTC) Lat Lon SST (°C)
1440 35.18 75.58 23 Hit the mud
1548 35.03 75.42 25
1636 34.32 75.75 27.8
1734 36.45 75.16 20.8???

Table 4 Locations of mobile instruments deployed during the landfall
Latitude Longitude Instrument
35.56667 77.05000SMART-R1 Washinton, NC
35.0666777.04167SMART-R2 New Bern, NC
34.8883376.35667DOWs, TTU Atlantic Airport
34.6983376.67917Clemson/UF T2 Atlantic Beach
35.2166775.61667Clemson T3 Cape Hatteras
34.1491677.85389Clemson T1 Wilmington
36.2666776.16667Clemson T0 Elizabeth City
34.7292776.65667 TTU WEMITE at Morehead / Beaufort airport

Note : DOW's were positioned N and S of the TTU and Rapid Scan radar at Atlantic airfield, but only one central position is listed here. TTU - Texas Tech University Wind Engineering

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