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  • First NOAA P-3 mission (since they arrived at AOC in the early 1970's) to fly into a hurricane in the Central Pacific

  • First time the NOAA P-3 based out of Hawaii for hurricane operations (note that the NOAA G-IV has done this numerous times, most recently in Hector this season, and also flew synoptic surveillance missions around Lane, tasked by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center; the 53rd has also flown regular reconnaissance out of Hawaii)

  • Real-time viewings of data from the P-3 (including Tail Doppler radar data) in AWIPS II at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. Their discussions noted their use of the P-3 data:
    CPHC Discussion, 1100 PM HST, 19 August: "Aircraft from the NOAA Aircraft 
    Operation Center and the U.S. Air Force Reserves 53rd Weather Reconnaissance 
    Squadron have been sampling Hurricane Lane this evening. The data provided 
    by these missions have been invaluable."
    CPHC Discussion, 0500 AM HST, 20 August: "Radar reflectivity data sent from 
    the NOAA aircraft between 0510z and 0722z showed that Lane's eyewall was open 
    in the southeastern quadrant."
    CPHC Discussion, 1100 AM HST, 20 August: "Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters 
    found a maximum flight level wind of 121 kt, and the NOAA Hurricane Hunters 
    found maximum SFMR wind of 113 kt earlier on the northwest quadrant."
    CPHC Discussion, 1100 PM HST, 20 August: "Aircraft from NOAA and the 53rd 
    Weather Reconnaissance Squadron have been flying through lane at 8 to 10 
    thousand feet respectively this evening, and are confirming that Lane is 
    a powerful hurricane that has intensified since their last visit this 
    CPHC Discussion, 0645 PM HST, 21 August: "Data from the NOAA P-3 aircraft 
    indicate that Lane has strengthened to a category 5 hurricane."

  • AOC was able to accommodate many guest fliers on the P-3 from the NWS/Weather Forecast Office/Honolulu, Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC), and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC)

  • First all female HRD science crew on a NOAA P-3 Hurricane Hunter flight. This also just so happened to occur when Lane reached peak intensity of 140 kt (a Category 5 hurricane, which is rare in the Central Pacific).

  • 4 EMC-operationally tasked P-3 missions were flown into Lane (EP14) in the Central Pacific, while it was a major hurricane 12-hour operations with takeoff times at 4 AM HST (1400 UTC, 10 AM EDT) and 4 PM HST (0200 UTC, 10 PM EDT): 20180820H1, 20180820H2, 20180821H1, 20180822H1.

  • The goal of the missions was to collect data (Tail Doppler radar, flight level, and dropsonde) for assimilation into the 0600 and 1800 UTC forecast cycles of the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) operational model. It was also an opportunity to collect Doppler Wind Lidar (DWL) and Wide-swath Radar Altimeter (WSRA) data before they are to be swapped off the aircraft.

  • There were also 4 CPHC-tasked Synoptic Surveillance NOAA G-IV missions into Hurricane Lane 20180819N1, 20180820N1, 20180821N1, 20180822N1. These missions targeted synoptic flow features around Lane that could affect the eventual steering of the storm. Considering the shift and reduction in track spread (that ultimately led to the storm being steered directly towards the Hawaiian Islands) as the aircraft missions were flown, observations were likely impactful (though impact studies will be forthcoming).

  • TDR analyses were successfully produced on each P-3 mission, and superobs sent to EMC in near real-time for assimilation into HWRF In addition, these radar analyses were also produced and transmitted from the G-IV TDR during their synoptic surveillance missions. We were first successful in producing TDR analyses from the G-IV TDR during the Hector missions.

Sequence of P-3 TDR analyses showing composite reflectivity (top row), and wind speed at 0.5 km (bottom row), for P-3 missions: 20180820H1, 20180820H2, 20180821H1, 20180822H1, from left to right

Reflectivity (top) and wind speed (bottom) vertical cross sections on the 3rd pass of Lane during 20180822H1, during its peak intensity as a Category 5

  • There were 5 missions into Lane by the 53rd Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter C-130s

  • There were 77 P-3, 119 G-IV, and 49 C-130 (245 total) dropsondes in Hurricane Lane: P-3 (20180820H1 [16]; 20180820H2 [12]; 20180821H1 [23]; 20180822H1 [26]), G-IV (20180819N1 [30], 20180820N1 [29], 20180821N1 [28], 20180822N1 [32]), C-130 (20180820U1 [8], 20180820U2 [8], 20180821U1 [5], 20180821U2 [13], 20180822U1 [15])

  • Unfortunately, the originally scheduled 4 AM mission on Tuesday 21 August, 20180821H2, had to be scrubbed to do an inspection of the P-3 after it experienced 3.1 G acceleration during an eyewall penetration during the previous mission (20180821H1).

  • In addition, vibrations likely associated with the DWL installation were detected during the P-3 mission 20180821H1 on their transit back to Honolulu. These vibrations appeared during the following P-3 mission, 20180822H1, and required the mission to be aborted prior to their fourth and final pass of the storm.

  • P-3 missions were not able to continue into Wednesday as the crew required the aircraft to be evacuated back to the mainland in advance of the expected arrival of tropical storm conditions on Oahu, possibly as early as Thursday morning. The C-130s also evacuated.

  • SFMR High Incidence Angle Module was flown on 3 of the 4 flights: (20180820H2, 20180821H1, 20180822H2) (Objective #1 of the "SFMR Experiment"). This involves flying circles at 15, 30, and 45 degree roll angles, thus measuring the response of the SFMR at high-incidence angles. These are the first modules flown with a 2nd down-looking SFMR on the P-3 (thus having both horizontal and vertical polarizations).

The execution of the SFMR "Circles" modules on 20180820H2 (left) and 20180822H1 (right)

  • Gravity Wave Module (within Objective #1 of the "Mature Stage Experiment") flown during 20180821H1. This involved repeated sampling along the same azimuth (NW) during an eyewall penetration, extending one leg out to 160 nmi away from the storm.

The Gravity Wave module on 20180821H1, along the 315 degree azimuth in the northwest quadrant

  • Aircraft sampled a rapid intensification (RI) event while Lane was already a major hurricane (Lane intensified from 115 kt to 135 kt in an 18-hour period, 0300 to 2100 UTC 21 August). This RI was not forecast at all by any global model. When we first deployed, Lane was forecast to be weakening under less favorable vertical wind shear conditions. Instead, the storm maintained intensity (~110 kt) during the first P-3 mission (20180820H1); 20180820H2 appeared to capture the important precursor state of the storm to the RI event, as the storm began to show signs of increasing intensity and organization (up to 115 kt); 20180821H1 then captured the RI event (CPHC set the intensity at 130 kt, although dropsonde and SFMR did sample up to 140 kt winds during the mission); 20180822H1 captured the peak intensity of the storm (140 kt).

  • Some ocean sampling was accomplished during each mission as 19 AXBTs were released ahead of, and within, the storm environment (20180820H1 [6], 20180820H2 [5], 20180821H1 [6], 20180822H1 [2]). On each of the first three missions an AXBT was released ahead of the storm at the location of the 24-h forecast center. The goal was to drop another AXBT near that same location in the mission 24 h later (presumably near the maximum wind radius), to allow us to compare how the storm may have affected the ocean profile characteristics. Unfortunately, this consecutive sampling was only accomplished once (20180820H1 and 20180821H1 can be compared). A number of AXBTs were also dropped in combination with dropsondes in the maximum wind region, to allow us to observe the surface fluxes.

  • DWL operations successfully collected data on all four missions, including a successful test of transmitting DWL processed wind profiles to the ground

  • The WSRA successfully operated in three missions: 20180820H1, 20180820H2, 20180821H1. Data were collected and transmitted to the ground, to be possibly pulled by NHC for a near real time look at the data. This includes significant wave heights (example shown below).

    Significant wave heights from the WSRA on 20180820H1 (provided by Ivan PopStefanija, ProSensing)

    Jon Zawislak
    Field Program Director

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