The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season ended on November 30 but not before churning out 18 named storms, including catastrophic Hurricane Dorian. Throughout the season, AOML’s hurricane scientists were at the forefront of NOAA’s efforts to prepare vulnerable communities for severe weather.
AOML’s hurricane scientists conducted multiple airborne missions into several tropical systems that formed in the Atlantic in September and October. The data gathered in Humberto, Jerry, pre-Karen, Lorenzo, and Nestor improved track and intensity forecasts, aiding NOAA’s efforts to prepare vulnerable communities for severe weather. The missions also supported research to better understand how tropical cyclones form, intensify, and dissipate, as well as supported efforts to validate satellite measurements of these storms.
Catastrophic Hurricane Dorian will be long remembered as one of the Atlantic basin’s most powerful landfalling hurricanes. NOAA Hurricane Hunters measured Dorian’s intensification from a weak tropical storm in the Caribbean to one of the Atlantic’s fiercest hurricanes. The data they gathered were vital to protecting life and property, supporting NOAA’s efforts to warn vulnerable communities of approaching severe weather through accurate forecasts.
NOAA AOML scientists attended the Aviation Week and Science Technology Laureate Awards in Washington D.C. to receive Aviation Week magazine’s prestigious Laureate award for Dual Defense Use. The NOAA/Raytheon team was recognized for using Raytheon Coyote Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to track and model hurricanes.
Over the past 20 years, improvements in hurricane computer modeling, observational instrumentation, and forecaster training have greatly increased forecast accuracy. The many complex interactions that occur within the atmosphere remain to be fully understood, especially at the small scales associated with tropical cyclones. However, these milestones mark critical advances in numerical weather prediction that are paving the way to the next generation of NOAA models. While hurricanes cannot be controlled, vulnerability to these complex storms can be reduced through preparedness. Early warning and improved accuracy of forecasts can help save lives and reduce property damages caused by hurricanes.
Each year, NOAA AOML welcomes a group of talented students from across the country to join our team by way of summer internships. Seventeen highly motivated students have traveled to our laboratory in Miami to work alongside leading oceanic and atmospheric research scientists. NOAA internships, scholarships, and fellowships provide students with an unparalleled opportunity to develop and fine tune their research and field skills, giving them a glimpse of what it takes to establish a professional career in a federal research laboratory. Each student works side by side with a AOML mentor, who help to advise the students along their chosen scientific career paths and various research projects. Here at AOML, these career opportunities include jobs in physical oceanography, ocean chemistry and ecosystems, hurricane research, engineering, computer science and communications.
NOAA’s hurricane hunter aircraft carry a unique radar that measures wind in hurricanes where there is rain. Located in the tail of the aircraft and known as the Tail Doppler Radar, this instrument produces images that can provide detailed pictures scientists use to study storm structure and changes. Scientists can also piece together wind speed information gathered over the course of a flight to paint a complete picture of the wind speed in the regions of the storm where the aircraft flies.
There aren’t many people who can say they have flown directly into a hurricane, but on October 5, 2016, I had a very unique opportunity to fly into Hurricane Matthew with NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters. Matthew was quickly moving across the Atlantic Ocean, and each new forecast moved it closer to the East Coast of Florida. With the high potential for hurricane watches and warnings, NOAA started preparations for routine flight operations.
With hurricane season in full swing, NOAA will host a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) about the Science of Hurricane Hunting to Improve Forecasts on September 22, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. Hurricane scientist Frank Marks, Sc.D., Director of the Hurricane Research Division at AOML, and P-3 hurricane hunter pilot Commander Justin Kibbey of the NOAA Corps will answer questions. The first half of hurricane season has produced a significant number of storms in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. This AMA is a great opportunity to answer questions about how and why we study these storms.
NOAA Hurricane Hunters are flying back-to-back missions to study the newly developed Tropical Storm Hermine in the Gulf of Mexico, capturing its evolution from a cluster of thunderstorms into a tropical storm. Getting data during such transitions can help improve hurricane models which currently don’t predict transitions well. Our understanding of the physical processes of early storm development remains limited, largely because there are few observations.