70 The Evolution of Hurricane Irma's Wind Field Structure

Tuesday, 17 April 2018
Champions DEFGH (Sawgrass Marriott)
Cassandra M Leahy, Risk Management Solutions, Inc., Tallahassee, FL

Hurricane Irma caused immense devastation in the Caribbean and Florida in mid-September of 2017. The structure of the wind field of the storm affected where the maximum winds in the storm were located and the amount of Integrated Kinetic Energy (IKE) the storm contained. These features contributed to the amount of damage that occurred. Therefore, it is important to be able to model Irma’s wind field structure as it transformed over time. In order to understand the evolution of Irma’s wind field structure, it is necessary to analyze observations taken during the storm. These observations provide the opportunity to reconstruct an image of Irma’s wind field and determine its structure and features. It is then possible to compare the actual structure of the wind field to initial model analyses.

This study documents changes in Hurricane Irma’s structural characteristics as it moved through the Caribbean and towards the United States, specifically Puerto Rico, the Florida Keys, and the west coast of Florida. Individual wind field features analyzed include IKE, maximum wind velocity, and radius of maximum winds. These parameters were analyzed from a comprehensive set of observations collected from Air Force and NOAA reconnaissance flights, satellites, and surface stations, including stations such as ASOS, METAR and moored buoys. The wind data was then used to conduct real-time and post-storm analyses of Irma’s wind field in the RMS-HWind application. The RMS-HWind analyses were then compared to initial model analyses.

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