NOAA has been gathering high-resolution, flight-level dropwindsonde and airborne Doppler radar data in tropical cyclones for almost three decades; the U.S. Air Force routinely obtained the same type and quality of data, excepting Doppler radar, for most of that time. The data have been used for operational diagnosis and for research, and, starting in 2013, have been assimilated into operational regional tropical cyclone models. This study is an effort to quantify the impact of assimilating these data into a version of the operational Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting model using an ensemble Kalman filter. A total of 83 cases during 2008-11 were investigated. The aircraft whose data were used in the study all provide high-density flight-level wind and thermodynamic observations as well as surface wind speed data. Forecasts initialized with these data assimilated are compared to those using the model standard initialization. Since only NOAA aircraft provide airborne Doppler radar data, these data are also tested to see their impact above the standard aircraft data. The aircraft data alone are shown to provide some statistically significant improvement to track and intensity forecasts during the critical watch and warning period before projected landfall (through 60 h), with the Doppler radar data providing some further improvement. This study shows the potential for improved forecasts with regular tropical cyclone aircraft reconnaissance and the assimilation of data obtained from them, especially airborne Doppler radar data, into the numerical guidance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science