4.3 New Remote Sensing Technologies to Monitor Tropical Cyclones in Near Real-Time

Tuesday, 9 January 2018: 9:00 AM
Ballroom D (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Chris Vagasky, Vaisala, Inc., Louisville, CO; and M. J. Murphy, R. Said, and S. Early

Tropical cyclones pose a significant risk to life and property. The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season saw several significant tropical cyclones that made landfall across the Atlantic Basin. Hurricane Harvey, the first major hurricane to make landfall in the Continental United States since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, produced a United States record 164cm of rain near Houston, Texas. Hurricanes Irma and Maria both reached Category Five intensity, with maximum wind speeds of 160 and 150 knots, respectively. Irma and Maria made six landfalls at Category Five intensity and caused significant damage to portions of the Caribbean, Western Atlantic, and Continental United States.

For meteorologists monitoring tropical cyclones, it is important to be able to analyze and monitor trends in tropical cyclone intensity to deliver the best possible forecast. New technologies have enabled meteorologists to receive critical data in near real-time. The GOES-16 satellite can have designated mesoscale sectors which provide improved temporal resolution (30-60 second image updates vs. 5-15 minute updates). These mesoscale sectors were used during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Ground-based lightning location systems detect and locate lightning events at even faster time scales. Both of these technologies are useful to tropical meteorologists, as identifying areas of strong convection, including over the open ocean away from Doppler radar, can improve intensity and impact forecasts.

Using these two technologies together can provide a complete picture of convective activity within a tropical cyclone. Here, we revisit Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and overlay Vaisala National Lightning Detection Network precision lightning data (Harvey) and GLD360 global lightning data (Irma and Maria) on GOES-16 satellite imagery and examine how using these two technologies can improve awareness of a tropical cyclone’s intensity and potential impacts in near real-time.

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