NASA Global Hawk Conducts Third 24 Hour UAS Mission Over Hurricane Matthew and in front of Nicole
NOAA SHOUT 2016 Science Flight #9 conducts multi-aircraft mission above Matthew and in front of Nicole.
The NOAA UAS Program’s SHOUT Team launched the NASA Global Hawk from NASA Armstrong at 2000 PT October 8th with the mission objective to sample Hurricane Matthew and model sensitivity areas (HWRF and ECMWF) east of the storm, near the storm environment, and in the Gulf of Mexico. As the flight evolved, the team in close coordination with the National Hurricane Center and manned aircraft the team also collected data in front of Hurricane Nicole. This was the first time that the NASA Global Hawk flew three hurricane missions in a row with minimum turn-around time.
During the flight, the aircraft delivered data such as temperature, relative humidity, pressure and winds. This information was delivered in real-time to the National Hurricane Center in Florida, the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) and numerous modeling centers around the world for use in forecast and model development. The dropsonde data was provided to the Global Telecommunication System which delivers it to NHC and the modeling centers for input to the NCEP HWRF, ECMWF, UKMet and other models. This mission’s data was quickly used by the NHC in forecaster discussions 46 and 47 (attached):
POST-TROPICAL CYCLONE MATTHEW DISCUSSION NUMBER 46
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL142016
1100 AM EDT SUN OCT 09 2016
Satellite data and surface observations indicate that a cold
front has wrapped around the southwestern portion of Matthew’s
circulation and the post-tropical cyclone is now analyzed as an
extratropical low. Despite the change in the cyclone’s structure
over the past 24 hours, Matthew continues to produce an area of very
strong winds to the southwest and west of the center. Sustained
winds of 55 to 60 kt with gusts above hurricane force were reported
at several coastal marine observing stations near the Outer Banks of
North Carolina this morning, and a recent dropsonde from the Global
Hawk unmanned aircraft reported surface winds of 58 kt.
These flights were especially important as record-breaking flooding was occurring in North Carolina after Hurricane Matthew dumped extreme amounts of rain on eastern parts of the state.
The aircraft landed back in California at 2047 PT October 9th after launching 63 sondes. This is the third year of NOAA’s SHOUT research project with NASA to evaluate the benefits of using the unmanned aircraft in routine operations to improve severe storm forecasts. The research also looks at whether unmanned aircraft can fill data gaps if there are interruptions in weather satellite coverage.
John "JC" Coffey