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Robert W. Burpee
,
James L. Franklin
,
Stephen J. Lord
,
Robert E. Tuleya
, and
Sim D. Aberson

Since 1982, the Hurricane Research Division (HRD) has conducted a series of experiments with research aircraft to enhance the number of observations in the environment and the core of hurricanes threatening the United States. During these experiments, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration WP-3D aircraft crews release Omega dropwindsondes (ODWs) at 15–20-min intervals along the flight track to obtain profiles of wind, temperature, and humidity between flight level and the sea surface. Data from the ODWs are transmitted back to the aircraft and then sent via satellite to the Tropical Prediction Center and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), where the observations become part of the operational database.

This paper tests the hypothesis that additional observations improve the objective track forecast models that provide operational guidance to the hurricane forecasters. The testing evaluates differences in forecast tracks from models run with and without the ODW data in a research mode at HRD, NCEP, and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. The middle- and lower-tropospheric ODW data produce statistically significant reductions in 12–60-h mean forecast errors. The error reductions, which range from 16% to 30%, are at least as large as the accumulated improvement in operational forecasts achieved over the last 20–25 years. This breakthrough provides strong experimental evidence that more comprehensive observations in the hurricane environment and core will lead to immediate improvements in operational forecast guidance.

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James L. Franklin
,
Stephen J. Lord
,
Steven E. Feuer
, and
Frank D. Marks Jr.

Abstract

A set of three-dimensional, filtered, multiply nested objective analyses has been completed for the wind field of Hurricane Gloria for 0000 UTC 25 September 1985. At this time Gloria was one of the most intense hurricanes ever observed in the Atlantic basin, with a minimum sea level pressure of 919 mb. The nested analyses, based on observations from airborne Doppler radar and Omega dropwindsondes, simultaneously describe eyewall and synoptic-scale features, and are the most comprehensive analyses of a single hurricane constructed to date. The analyses have been used to document the multiscale kinematic structure of Gloria and to investigate the relationship between the kinematic fields and the motion of the vortex.

The analyses indicate that the vortex was unusually barotropic. The radius of maximum wind (RMW) was nearly vertical below 500 mb, with a slight inward slope with height between 750 and 550 mb. The strongest azimuthal mean tangential winds were found well above the boundary layer, near 550 mb, where the RMW was smallest. We speculate that this unusual structure was associated with a concentric eye cycle. A persistent asymmetry in the distribution of eyewall convection was associated with the vertical shear of the environmental flow.

The vortex moved approximately 2.5 m s−1 faster than the deep layer mean flow averaged at 667-km radius from the center. Barotropic models have predicted a relationship between the relative motion of the vortex and the gradients of absolute vorticity in the cyclone's environment; however, the predicted relationship was not found for Gloria. The vortex also did not move with the mean flow in the immediate vicinity of the center; the motion of the hurricane was most consistent with the 300–850-mb layer mean flow well outside the eyewall, at a radius of 65 km. The analyses suggest that the environmental flow near the center had been distorted by eyewall convection, with the scale of the distortion determined by the local Rossby radius of deformation.

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Mark Demaria
,
Sim D. Aberson
,
Katsuyuki V. Ooyama
, and
Stephen J. Lord

Abstract

A numerical method for analysing and forecasting a wide range of horizontal scales of motion is tested in a barotropic hurricane track forecast model. The numerical method uses cubic B-spline representations of variables on nested domains. The spline representation is used for the objective analysis of observations and the solution of the prediction equations (shallow-water equations on a Mercator projection). This analysis and forecasting system is referred to as VICBAR (Vic Ooyama barotropic model).

The VICBAR model was tested in near real time during the 1989 and 1990 Atlantic hurricane seasons. For the 1989 season, VICBAR had skill comparable to, or greater than, that of the operational track forecast models. For the, 1990 season, VICBAR had skill comparable to that of the operational track-forecast models. During both 1989 and 1990, VICBAR had considerably more skill for forecasts of hurricanes than for forecasts of tropical storms.

For the 1990 season, VICBAR was generalized to include time-dependent boundary conditions from a global forecast model. These boundary conditions improve the longer-range forecasts (60–72 h). The skill of VICBAR is sensitive to the choice of the background field used in the objective analysis and the fields used to apply the boundary conditions. The use of background fields and boundary-condition fields from a 12-h-old global model forecast significantly reduces the VICBAR skill (versus the use of fields from the current global forecast).

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Robert W. Burpee
,
Sim D. Aberson
,
Peter G. Black
,
Mark DeMaria
,
James L. Franklin
,
Joseph S. Griffin
,
Samuel H. Houston
,
John Kaplan
,
Stephen J. Lord
,
Frank D. Marks Jr.
,
Mark D. Powell
, and
Hugh E. Willoughby

The Hurricane Research Division (HRD) is NOAA's primary component for research on tropical cyclones. In accomplishing research goals, many staff members have developed analysis procedures and forecast models that not only help improve the understanding of hurricane structure, motion, and intensity change, but also provide operational support for forecasters at the National Hurricane Center (NHC). During the 1993 hurricane season, HRD demonstrated three important real-time capabilities for the first time. These achievements included the successful transmission of a series of color radar reflectivity images from the NOAA research aircraft to NHC, the operational availability of objective mesoscale streamline and isotach analyses of a hurricane surface wind field, and the transition of the experimental dropwindsonde program on the periphery of hurricanes to a technology capable of supporting operational requirements. Examples of these and other real-time capabilities are presented for Hurricane Emily.

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Richard Rotunno
,
Leonard J. Pietrafesa
,
John S. Allen
,
Bradley R. Colman
,
Clive M. Dorman
,
Carl W. Kreitzberg
,
Stephen J. Lord
,
Miles G. McPhee
,
George L. Mellor
,
Christopher N. K. Mooers
,
Pearn P. Niiler
,
Roger A. Pielke Sr.
,
Mark D. Powell
,
David P. Rogers
,
James D. Smith
, and
Lian Xie

U.S. Weather Research Program (USWRP) prospectus development teams (PDTs) are small groups of scientists that are convened by the USWRP lead scientist on a one-time basis to discuss critical issues and to provide advice related to future directions of the program. PDTs are a principal source of information for the Science Advisory Committee, which is a standing committee charged with the duty of making recommendations to the Program Office based upon overall program objectives. PDT-1 focused on theoretical issues, and PDT-2 on observational issues; PDT-3 is the first of several to focus on more specialized topics. PDT-3 was convened to identify forecasting problems related to U.S. coastal weather and oceanic conditions, and to suggest likely solution strategies.

There were several overriding themes that emerged from the discussion. First, the lack of data in and over critical regions of the ocean, particularly in the atmospheric boundary layer, and the upper-ocean mixed layer were identified as major impediments to coastal weather prediction. Strategies for data collection and dissemination, as well as new instrument implementation, were discussed. Second, fundamental knowledge of air–sea fluxes and boundary layer structure in situations where there is significant mesoscale variability in the atmosphere and ocean is needed. Companion field studies and numerical prediction experiments were discussed. Third, research prognostic models suggest that future operational forecast models pertaining to coastal weather will be high resolution and site specific, and will properly treat effects of local coastal geography, orography, and ocean state. The view was expressed that the exploration of coupled air-sea models of the coastal zone would be a particularly fruitful area of research. PDT-3 felt that forecasts of land-impacting tropical cyclones, Great Lakes-affected weather, and coastal cyclogenesis, in particular, would benefit from such coordinated modeling and field efforts. Fourth, forecasting for Arctic coastal zones is limited by our understanding of how sea ice forms. The importance of understanding air-sea fluxes and boundary layers in the presence of ice formation was discussed. Finally, coastal flash flood forecasting via hydrologic models is limited by the present accuracy of measured and predicted precipitation and storm surge events. Strategies for better ways to improve the latter were discussed.

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