“Edouard was a category 3 hurricane (on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) that remained over the open Atlantic Ocean during its lifetime. Edouard was the first major hurricane to develop in the Atlantic basin since Hurricane Sandy of 2012. Multiple research missions, sometimes simultaneous, were conducted in Edouard by NOAA and NASA aircraft, including the first-ever release of an unmanned aerial vehicle into an Atlantic tropical cyclone.” – Tropical Cyclone Report
While Hurricane Edouard’s only brought swells to Bermuda, the island served as a launch-pad for potentially ground-breaking hurricane research experiments. NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft successfully launched four Coyote Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into Hurricane Edouard near the storm’s peak intensity while it was roughly 350-400miles east of Bermuda. Flying through the eyewall and eye structures of the hurricane at an altitude of just less than 1km, these UAS measured temperature, moisture, pressure and winds from a low altitude typically unsafe for hurricane hunter aircraft.
The data collected on this field experiment, known as the Small Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle Experiment (SUAVE), is intended to both improve researcher/forecaster understanding of boundary layer processes in the core of hurricanes and to attempt to verify hurricane model output. Both mission objectives could potentially improve hurricane intensity forecasts – an area of tropical meteorology that has traditionally been less successful than track forecasting. Additionally, the observations from UAS could potentially be used operationally to better estimate current hurricane intensity because they provide more continuous low-level data.
Meanwhile, the American “Global Forecasting System” (GFS model) was upgraded this morning. It now operates at roughly 3 times greater resolution than its previous incarnation (it now has the highest resolution of all the global models), and includes more complex/adjusted physics and parameterizations. These changes are intended to improve forecast quality. Interesting times are ahead for the forecasting world as the data is analyzed from SUAVE and we determine how well the new GFS performs.