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Wensu Wang, Worth D. Nowlin Jr., and Robert O. Reid


The primary objective of this work is to formulate surface meteorological fields over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico for the period from April 1992 through November 1994 useful for the study of mesoscale processes and for model forcing of the near-coastal circulation. Observations were adjusted to standard heights, and a method of statistical interpolation was applied to time series of in situ observations to produce the required surface fields. Resulting monthly and seasonal mean fields show two principal patterns over the Texas-Louisiana shelf region—for summer and nonsummer. From June through August, surface winds are relatively constant, with alongshore wind components generally directed upcoast (from Mexico toward the Mississippi Delta). In other (nonsummer) months, surface winds are much more variable with alongshore wind components generally directed downcoast. The relatively large interannual variability is illustrated. Using these meteorological fields together with rather complete oceanographic data available from the same period, the effects of episodic atmospheric events on the circulation and properties of the Texas-Louisiana shelf may be examined. As examples, two extreme atmospheric events are characterized in terms of wind, surface air temperature, SST, and sensible heat flux fields: a cold air outbreak in November 1992 and a cyclone generated in March 1993 known as the “Storm of the Century.”

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