Influence of Synoptic Track Aircraft Reconnaissance on JTWC Tropical Cyclone Track Forecast Errors

Daniel N. Shoemaker Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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William M. Gray Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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John D. Sheaffer Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Abstract

This report examines the impact of synoptic reconnaissance by United States Air Force aircraft on the accuracy of tropical cyclone motion forecasts. Synoptic reconnaissance missions were requested for the purpose of collecting data on atmospheric conditions in proximity to developed cyclones at levels and locations which were assumed to govern the future motion of each storm. The results presented here suggest that synoptic reconnaissance data contributed to improved JTWC motion forecasts. Data include results for cyclone-motion forecasts aided by 63 synoptic missions in the western North Pacific during the 1983–86 seasons. Position errors were analyzed for approximately 200 motion forecasts for 24-, 48-, and 72-h movements following the synoptic missions as well as for forecast errors for predictions without synoptic reconnaissance data. Inspection of the storm tracks for which synoptic missions were flown indicated that the reconnaissance-assisted forecasts were for forecasting situations which were typically as difficult as those which occurred for the average forecast.

Abstract

This report examines the impact of synoptic reconnaissance by United States Air Force aircraft on the accuracy of tropical cyclone motion forecasts. Synoptic reconnaissance missions were requested for the purpose of collecting data on atmospheric conditions in proximity to developed cyclones at levels and locations which were assumed to govern the future motion of each storm. The results presented here suggest that synoptic reconnaissance data contributed to improved JTWC motion forecasts. Data include results for cyclone-motion forecasts aided by 63 synoptic missions in the western North Pacific during the 1983–86 seasons. Position errors were analyzed for approximately 200 motion forecasts for 24-, 48-, and 72-h movements following the synoptic missions as well as for forecast errors for predictions without synoptic reconnaissance data. Inspection of the storm tracks for which synoptic missions were flown indicated that the reconnaissance-assisted forecasts were for forecasting situations which were typically as difficult as those which occurred for the average forecast.

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