The Hurricane Rainband and Intensity Change Experiment (RAINEX) used three P3 aircraft aided by high-resolution numerical modeling and satellite communications to investigate the 2005 Hurricanes Katrina, Ophelia, and Rita. The aim was to increase the understanding of tropical cyclone intensity change by interactions between a tropical cyclone's inner core and rainbands. All three aircraft had dual-Doppler radars, with the Electra Doppler Radar (ELDORA) on board the Naval Research Laboratory's P3 aircraft, providing particularly detailed Doppler radar data. Numerical model forecasts helped plan the aircraft missions, and innovative communications and data transfer in real time allowed the flights to be coordinated from a ground-based operations center. The P3 aircraft released approximately 600 dropsondes in locations targeted for optimal coordination with the Doppler radar data, as guided by the operations center. The storms were observed in all stages of development, from tropical depression to category 5 hurricane. The data from RAINEX are readily available through an online Field Catalog and RAINEX Data Archive. The RAINEX dataset is illustrated in this article by a preliminary analysis of Hurricane Rita, which was documented by multiaircraft flights on five days 1) while a tropical storm, 2) while rapidly intensifying to a category 5 hurricane, 3) during an eye-wall replacement, 4) when the hurricane became asymmetric upon encountering environmental shear, and 5) just prior to landfall.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami, Miami, Florida
Earth Observing Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
Hurricane Research Division, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Miami, Florida