September 26, 2023

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Paper describing large new airborne Doppler radar dataset in tropical cyclones released online in Monthly Weather Review – Hurricane Research Division

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The study introduces a new database that is freely available and consists of over 900 airborne Doppler radar analyses collected between 1997–2020. We demonstrate the capabilities of the database by identifying how the structure of hurricanes changes depending on the strength of the storm, which provides a foundation for future research avenues and computer model evaluation projects. The database is available at

Figure. Locations of all storms in the TC-RADAR database.  Each marker represents the storm location for a unique NOAA Hurricane Hunter flight.  The color of the marker corresponds to the system’s intensity.  Tropical depressions and tropical storms (peak wind below 64 kt/74 mph) are shown in blue, minor hurricanes (peak wind speeds between 64–95 kt/74–110 mph) are shown in green, and major hurricanes are shown in orange. This study did not examine storms close to land (red) nor disturbances not yet considered tropical cyclones (pink).

The amount of damage caused by hurricanes is closely related to their strength with some estimates linking over 80% of all storm-driven damage to major hurricanes, which have peak wind speeds of at least 96 knots (111 miles per hour). However, only about 20% of all storms in the Atlantic Ocean reach major hurricane strength. As a result, it is important to understand why some storms are able to grow stronger and more dangerous. 

This study explored how hurricane structure changes depending on the strength of the storm. This was done by building a new database of Doppler radar observations collected from NOAA aircraft during the last three decades. These radar observations can see the three-dimensional wind field of the storm, providing critical information on the storm structure, as well as the structure of the rain and thunderstorms within the storm. The new database, named the “Tropical Cyclone Radar Archive of Doppler Analyses with Recentering” or TC-RADAR for short, includes over 900 unique radar analyses from 273 flights into storms in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (see Fig.). This database is the largest of its kind to be documented and includes storms associated with a wide range of strengths. Ongoing work will add additional storms to the database, which are sampled as part of NOAA’s annual hurricane field program.  The database is freely available to the community from and will serve as a useful tool for future research on hurricane structure and intensity, as well as a platform to judge whether high-resolution computer model guidance is creating realistic hurricane structures.

For more information, contact Office of Naval Research award number N00014-20-1-2057.


2022-05-31 14:02:15

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