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Joseph S. Griffin
Robert W. Burpee
Frank D. Marks Jr.
, and
James L. Franklin


The Hurricane Research Division has developed a technique for real-time airborne analysis of aircraft data from reconnaissance and research flights in tropical cyclones. The technique uses an onboard workstation that analyzes flight-level observations, radar reflectivity patterns, radial Doppler velocities, and vertical soundings from Omega dropwindsondes (ODWs).

Many of the workstation analyses are in storm-relative coordinates that depend upon interactive identification of the cyclone center from the radar reflectivity data. Displays of the lower fuselage radar reflectivity, composited for 1–2 h, provide an overall perspective of the horizontal patterns of precipitation and a framework for interpretation of thermodynamic and kinematic observations. The workstation runs algorithms for estimation of the horizontal wind field in the hurricane core using radial velocities measured by the airborne Doppler radar during one or more penetrations of the storm center. Interactive software also supports real-time processing of ODW wind and thermodynamic data, objective editing of bad data, and automatic dissemination of mandatory and significant-level data in the standard dropwindsonde code. Similarly processed ODWs have been consistently shown to reduce forecast errors of hurricane track in several objective models used by the forecasters at NHC.

Plans for the 1992 hurricane season include the transmission of subsets of the data to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) through the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) communications system and the display of the aircraft analyses for the forecasters at NHC. With the implementation of these plans, NHC will receive two-dimensional analyses of the mesoscale precipitation and wind structure of the storm core and more frequent estimates of the location and recent motion of tropical cyclones. The information will enable forecasters to take advantage of recent advances in the understanding of hurricane-intensity change.

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