Satellite Classifications of Atlantic Tropical and Subtropical Cyclones: A Review of Eight Years of Classifications at Miami

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  • 1 Satellite Field Services Station, National Environmental Satellite Service, NOAA, Miami, FL 33146
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Abstract

Estimates of the locations and maximum sustained wind speeds of all tropical and subtropical cyclones in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico have been made at Miami since 1971 using satellite techniques developed by Timchalk et al. (1965), Dvorak (1972) and Hebert and Poteat (1975). The estimates were compared with the National Hurricane Center's “best tracks” data to establish the measure of accuracy achieved. These data are not entirely independent because the best tracks themselves are determined partly from the satellite estimates; however, comparisons were made only during periods when aerial reconnaissance was also available. The average difference between satellite-derived maximum sustained wind speeds and best track maximum sustained wind speeds has consistently been ∼7 kt with standard deviation of ∼8 kt. The average difference between satellite locations and best track locations has decreased to ∼17 n mi, with standard deviation of ∼14 n mi, which is believed to be an approximate lower limit for the present state of the art and technology. These results and other information are provided for an 8-year period.

Abstract

Estimates of the locations and maximum sustained wind speeds of all tropical and subtropical cyclones in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico have been made at Miami since 1971 using satellite techniques developed by Timchalk et al. (1965), Dvorak (1972) and Hebert and Poteat (1975). The estimates were compared with the National Hurricane Center's “best tracks” data to establish the measure of accuracy achieved. These data are not entirely independent because the best tracks themselves are determined partly from the satellite estimates; however, comparisons were made only during periods when aerial reconnaissance was also available. The average difference between satellite-derived maximum sustained wind speeds and best track maximum sustained wind speeds has consistently been ∼7 kt with standard deviation of ∼8 kt. The average difference between satellite locations and best track locations has decreased to ∼17 n mi, with standard deviation of ∼14 n mi, which is believed to be an approximate lower limit for the present state of the art and technology. These results and other information are provided for an 8-year period.

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