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SHIPS Rapid Intensification Index

Principal Investigator:

Project Member:

Collaborating Scientists:
  • Christopher M. Rozoff (CIMMS)
  • Charles Sampson (NRL)
  • James P. Kossin (NOAA/NCDC)
  • Christopher S. Velden (CIMSS)
  • Mark DeMaria (NOAA/NESDIS)

Funding Information:

     This project has been funded, in part, by NOAAs Joint Hurricane Testbed (JHT) program.


Predicting episodes of tropical cyclone (TC) rapid intensification (RI) remains one of the highest operational forecasting priorities of the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Thus, in recent years, a statistically based rapid intensification index (RII) that employs predictors from the SHIPS model to estimate the probability of RI over the succeeding 24-h has been developed utilizing linear discriminant analysis for both the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins (Kaplan et al 2010). Although the SHIPS-RII is currently used as an operational forecasting tool by the NHC, its utility has been somewhat restricted since the original version was developed exclusively for a single (24-h) lead-time and its skill has tended to be rather limited particularly for the Atlantic basin.

Thus in an effort to improve the overall forecasting usefulness of the current operational SHIPS-RII, a number of model  enhancements were developed as part of this recently completed Joint Hurricane Testbed (JHT) project. First, new consensus-based versions of the RII that employ both the current SHIPS-discriminant RII as well as newly developed Bayesian and logistic regression versions (Rozoff and Kossin 2011) were derived for the current 24-h operational forecast lead-time as well as the added lead times of 12-h, 36-h, and 48-h. Secondly, new versions of the rapid intensity aid that provides deterministic intensity forecasts utilizing both existing operational intensity forecast models and the probabilistic RII were developed utilizing the new multi lead-time consensus RII. Lastly, microwave imagery-based versions of the RII that have been shown to be capable of providing a more accurate measure of the overall inner-core tropical cyclone structure were derived. 

     A more complete description of the methodology and results of the above project can be found in the final report that was recently submitted to the JHT which can be found at:

  • New multi-lead time consensus based versions of the RI that employ the current operational SHIPS-RII as well as newly developed Bayeseian and Logistic versions were developed for the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basin for the current 24-h lead time as well as the added lead times of 12-h,36-h and 48-h.
  • The multi-lead time consensus RI models were run in real-time at CIRA in Colorado with output made avaialable to forecasters at the NHC from ~August 1 through November 30  for both the 2012 and 2013 Hurricane Seasons.
  • New versions of the recently developed Rapid Intensity Aid guidance that employs the probabilistic RI forecasts to make deterministic RI forecasts were derived utilizing the multi-lead time versions of the RI models for both the Atlantic and easter North Pacific basins.
  • Microwave-imagery based versions of the RI model were developed for the 24-h lead time for both the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins.
  • Presentations describing the newly devloped RI model guidance were made at the 67th Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference and the National Hurricane Center.
  • A final report summarizing the results of the project was submittted to the JHT.


Future Goals:
  • Run the newly developed RI model guidance in real-time (and provide output to NHC forecasters) during the upcoming 2014 Hurricane Season.
  • Employ NHC-derived tropical cyclone structural information to develop/evaluate new enhanced versions of the SHIPS-RII.


Kaplan, J. , J. Cione, M. DeMaria, J. Dostalek, J. Dunion, J. Knaff, J. Zhang, T. Lee, J. Hawkins, J. Solbrig, E. Kalina, and P. Leighton, 2011: Improvement in the rapid intensity index by incorporation of inner-core information. JHT final report. Available from

Kaplan, J., M. DeMaria, and J.A. Knaff, 2010: A revised tropical cyclone rapid intensification index for the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins. Wea. Forecasting25, 220-241.

Rozoff, C. M., and J. P. Kossin, 2011: New probabilistic forecast models for the prediction of tropical cyclone rapid intensification. Wea. Forecasting, 26, 677-689.

Sampson, C. R., J. Kaplan, J. A. Knaff, M. DeMaria, and C. A. Sisko, 2011: A deterministic rapid intensification aid, Wea. Forecasting, 26, 579-585.

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