Observations made during the historic 2005 hurricane season document a case of "eyewall replacement." Clouds outside the hurricane eyewall coalesce to form a new eyewall at a greater radius from the storm center, and the old eyewall dies. The winds in the new eyewall are initially weaker than those in the original eyewall, but as the new eyewall contracts, the storm reintensifies. Understanding this replacement mechanism is vital to forecasting variations in hurricane intensity. Processes in the "moat" region between the new and old eyewall have been particularly unclear. Aircraft data now show that the moat becomes dynamically similar to the eye and thus is converted into a region inimical to survival of the inner eyewall. We suggest that targeting aircraft to key parts of the storm to gain crucial input to high-resolution numerical models can lead to improvements in forecasting hurricane intensity.
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