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Sim D. Aberson, Michael T. Montgomery, Michael Bell, and Michael Black

An unprecedented dataset of category-5 Hurricane Isabel was collected on 12–14 September 2003. This two-part series focuses on novel dynamical and thermodynamical aspects of Isabel's innercore structure on 13 September. In Part I, using a composite of dropwindsonde and in situ aircraft data, the authors suggested that the axisymmetric structure of Isabel showed that the storm was superintense. Mesocyclones seen clearly in satellite imagery within the eye of Hurricane Isabel are hypothesized to mix high-entropy air at low levels in the eye into the eyewall, stimulating explosive convective development and a concomitant local horizontal wind acceleration.

Part II focuses on a unique set of observations into an extraordinary small- (miso) scale cyclonic feature inside of the inner edge of the eyewall of Hurricane Isabel. A dropwindsonde released into this feature measured the strongest known horizontal wind in a tropical cyclone. This particular observation is discussed in the context of concurrent observations from airborne Doppler radar and other airborne instruments. These observations show wind even stronger than the system-scale superintense wind suggested in Part I. Speculation on the frequency of occurrence of these “little whirls” and their potentially catastrophic impacts are presented.

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Michael T. Montgomery, Michael M. Bell, Sim D. Aberson, and Michael L. Black

This study is an observational analysis of the inner-core structure, sea surface temperature, outflow layer, and atmospheric boundary layer of an intense tropical cyclone whose intensity and structure is consistent with recent numerical and theoretical predictions of superintense storms. The findings suggest new scientific challenges for the current understanding of hurricanes.

Unprecedented observations of the category-5 Hurricane Isabel (2003) were collected during 12–14 September. This two-part article reports novel dynamic and thermodynamic aspects of the inner-core structure of Isabel on 13 September that were made possible by analysis of these data. Here, a composite of the axisymmetric structure of the inner core and environment of Isabel is estimated using global positioning system dropwindsondes and in situ aircraft data. In Part II, an extreme wind speed observation on the same day is discussed in the context of this work.

The axisymmetric data composite suggests a reservoir of high-entropy air inside the low-level eye and significant penetration of inflowing near-surface air from outside. The analysis suggests that the low-level air penetrating the eye is enhanced thermodynamically by acquiring additional entropy through interaction with the ocean and replaces air mixed out of the eye. The results support the hypothesis that this high-entropy eye air “turboboosts” the hurricane engine upon its injection into the eyewall clouds. Recent estimates of the ratio of sea-to-air enthalpy and momentum exchange at high wind speeds are used to suggest that Isabel utilized this extra power to exceed the previously assumed intensity upper bound by 10–35 m s−1 for the given environmental conditions. Additional study with other datasets is encouraged to further test the superintensity hypothesis.

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David J. Karoly, Mitchell T. Black, Andrew D. King, and Michael R. Grose
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Michael R. Grose, James S. Risbey, Mitchell T. Black, and David J. Karoly
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Sim D. Aberson, Michael L. Black, Robert A. Black, Robert W. Burpee, Joseph J. Cione, Christopher W. Landsea, and Frank D. Marks Jr.

In 1976 and 1977, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration purchased two customized WP-3D (P-3) aircraft to conduct tropical cyclone (TC) research. During their first 30 years, the P-3s have proved to be invaluable research platforms, obtaining data at the micro- to synoptic scale, with missions conducted in 134 TCs in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans and near Australia. Analyses of the observations led to many new insights about TC structure, dynamics, thermodynamics, and environmental interactions. The real-time use of the information by the National Hurricane and Environmental Modeling Centers of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), as well as later research, has helped to increase the accuracy of wind, flood, and storm surge forecasts and severe weather warnings and has resulted in significant improvements to operational numerical model guidance for TC-track forecasts. In commemoration of the first 30 years of research with these aircraft, this manuscript presents a brief overview of the instrumentation aboard the aircraft and the major research findings during this period.

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Robert Rogers, Sim Aberson, Michael Black, Peter Black, Joe Cione, Peter Dodge, Jason Dunion, John Gamache, John Kaplan, Mark Powell, Nick Shay, Naomi Surgi, and Eric Uhlhorn

In 2005, NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (HRD), part of the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, began a multiyear experiment called the Intensity Forecasting Experiment (IFEX). By emphasizing a partnership among NOAA's HRD, Environmental Modeling Center (EMC), National Hurricane Center (NHC), Aircraft Operations Center (AOC), and National Environmental Satellite Data Information Service (NESDIS), IFEX represents a new approach for conducting hurricane field program operations. IFEX is intended to improve the prediction of tropical cyclone (TC) intensity change by 1) collecting observations that span the TC life cycle in a variety of environments; 2) developing and refining measurement technologies that provide improved real-time monitoring of TC intensity, structure, and environment; and 3) improving the understanding of the physical processes important in intensity change for a TC at all stages of its life cycle.

This paper presents a summary of the accomplishments of IFEX during the 2005 hurricane season. New and refined technologies for measuring such fields as surface and three-dimensional wind fields, and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, were achieved in a variety of field experiments that spanned the life cycle of several tropical cyclones, from formation and early organization to peak intensity and subsequent landfall or extratropical transition. Partnerships with other experiments during 2005 also expanded the spatial and temporal coverage of the data collected in 2005. A brief discussion of the plans for IFEX in 2006 is also provided.

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Michael R. Grose, Mitchell Black, James S. Risbey, Peter Uhe, Pandora K. Hope, Karsten Haustein, and Dann Mitchell
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Junhong (June) Wang, Kate Young, Terry Hock, Dean Lauritsen, Dalton Behringer, Michael Black, Peter G. Black, James Franklin, Jeff Halverson, John Molinari, Leon Nguyen, Tony Reale, Jeff Smith, Bomin Sun, Qing Wang, and Jun A. Zhang


A GPS dropsonde is a scientific instrument deployed from research and operational aircraft that descends through the atmosphere by a parachute. The dropsonde provides high-quality, high-vertical-resolution profiles of atmospheric pressure, temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and direction from the aircraft flight level to the surface over oceans and remote areas. Since 1996, GPS dropsondes have been routinely dropped during hurricane reconnaissance and surveillance flights to help predict hurricane track and intensity. From 1996 to 2012, NOAA has dropped 13,681 dropsondes inside hurricane eye walls or in the surrounding environment for 120 tropical cyclones (TCs). All NOAA dropsonde data have been collected, reformatted to one format, and consistently and carefully quality controlled using state-of-the-art quality-control (QC) tools. Three value-added products, the vertical air velocity and the radius and azimuth angle of each dropsonde location, are generated and added to the dataset. As a result, a long-term (1996–2012), high-quality, high-vertical-resolution (∼5–15 m) GPS dropsonde dataset is created and made readily available for public access. The dropsonde data collected during hurricane reconnaissance and surveillance flights have improved TC-track and TC-intensity forecasts significantly. The impact of dropsonde data on hurricane studies is summarized. The scientific applications of this long-term dropsonde dataset are highlighted, including characterizing TC structures, studying TC environmental interactions, identifying surface-based ducts in the hurricane environment that affect electromagnetic wave propagation, and validating satellite temperature and humidity profiling products.

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Keith D. Sherburn, Matthew D. Parker, Casey E. Davenport, Richard A. Sirico, Jonathan L. Blaes, Brandon Black, Shaelyn E. McLamb, Michael C. Mugrage, and Ryan M. Rackliffe


Recent research has improved our knowledge and forecasting of high-shear, low-CAPE (HSLC) severe convection, which produces a large fraction of overnight and cool season tornadoes. However, limited near-storm observations have hindered progress in our understanding of HSLC environments and detection of severe potential within them. This article provides an overview of a research project in central North Carolina aimed toward increasing the number of observations in the vicinity of severe and nonsevere HSLC convection. Particularly unique aspects of this project are a) leadership by student volunteers from a university sounding club and b) real-time communication of observations to local National Weather Service Forecast Offices. In addition to an overview of sounding operations and goals, two case examples are provided that support the potential utility of supplemental sounding observations for operational, educational, and research purposes.

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Carly R. Tozer, James S. Risbey, Michael Grose, Didier P. Monselesan, Dougal T. Squire, Amanda S. Black, Doug Richardson, Sarah N. Sparrow, Sihan Li, and David Wallom
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