A new world record wind gust: 253 mph in Australia's Tropical Cyclone Olivia

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:34 PM GMT on January 27, 2010

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The 6,288-foot peak of New Hampshire's Mount Washington is a forbidding landscape of wind-swept barren rock, home to some of planet Earth's fiercest winds. As a 5-year old boy, I remember being blown over by a terrific gust of wind on the summit, and rolling out of control towards a dangerous drop-off before a fortuitously-placed rock saved me. Perusing the Guinness Book of World Records as a kid, three iconic world weather records always held a particular mystique and fascination for me: the incredible 136°F (57.8°C) at El Azizia, Libya in 1922, the -128.5°F (-89.2°C) at the "Pole of Cold" in Vostok, Antarctica in 1983, and the amazing 231 mph wind gust (103.3 m/s) recorded in 1934 on the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire. Well, the legendary winds of Mount Washington have to take second place now, next to the tropical waters of northwest Australia. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has announced that the new world wind speed record at the surface is a 253 mph (113.2 m/s) wind gust measured on Barrow Island, Australia. The gust occurred on April 10, 1996, during passage of the eyewall of Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Olivia.


Figure 1. Instruments coated with rime ice on the summit of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. Image credit: Mike Theiss.

Tropical Cyclone Olivia
Tropical Cyclone Olivia was a Category 4 storm on the U.S. Saffir-Simpson scale, and generated sustained winds of 145 mph (1-minute average) as it crossed over Barrow Island off the northwest coast of Australia on April 10, 1996. Olivia had a central pressure of 927 mb and an eye 45 miles in diameter at the time, and generated waves 21 meters (69 feet) high offshore. According to Black et al. (1999), the eyewall likely had a tornado-scale mesovortex embedded in it that caused the extreme wind gust of 253 mph. The gust was measured at the standard measuring height of 10 meters above ground, on ground at an elevation of 64 meters (210 feet). A similar mesovortex was encountered by a Hurricane Hunter aircraft in Hurricane Hugo of 1989, and a mesovortex was also believed to be responsible for the 239 mph wind gust measured at 1400 meters by a dropsonde in Hurricane Isabel in 2003. For reference, 200 mph is the threshold for the strongest category of tornado, the EF-5, and any gusts of this strength are capable of causing catastrophic damage.


Figure 2. Visible satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Olivia a few hours before it crossed Barrow Island, Australia, setting a new world-record wind gust of 253 mph. Image credit: Japan Meteorological Agency.


Figure 3. Wind trace taken at Barrow Island, Australia during Tropical Cyclone Olivia. Image credit: Buchan, S.J., P.G. Black, and R.L. Cohen, 1999, "The Impact of Tropical Cyclone Olivia on Australia's Northwest Shelf", paper presented at the 1999 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, 3-6 May, 1999.

Why did it take so long for the new record to be announced?
The instrument used to take the world record wind gust was funded by a private company, Chevron, and Chevron's data was not made available to forecasters at Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) during the storm. After the storm, the tropical cyclone experts at BOM were made aware of the data, but it was viewed as suspect, since the gusts were so extreme and the data was taken with equipment of unknown accuracy. Hence, the observations were not included in the post-storm report. Steve Buchan from RPS MetOcean believed in the accuracy of the observations, and coauthored a paper on the record gust, presented at the 1999 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston (Buchan et al., 1999). The data lay dormant until 2009, when Joe Courtney of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology was made aware of it. Courtney wrote up a report, coauthored with Steve Buchan, and presented this to the WMO extremes committee for ratification. The report has not been made public yet, and is awaiting approval by Chevron. The verified data will be released next month at a World Meteorological Organization meeting in Turkey, when the new world wind record will become official.

New Hampshire residents are not happy
Residents of New Hampshire are understandably not too happy about losing their cherished claim to fame. The current home page of the Mount Washington Observatory reads, "For once, the big news on Mount Washington isn't our extreme weather. Sadly, it's about how our extreme weather--our world record wind speed, to be exact--was outdone by that of a warm, tropical island".

Comparison with other wind records
Top wind in an Atlantic hurricane: 239 mph (107 m/s) at an altitude of 1400 meters, measured by dropsonde in Hurricane Isabel (2003).
Top surface wind in an Atlantic hurricane: 211 mph (94.4 m/s), Hurricane Gustav, Paso Real de San Diego meteorological station in the western Cuban province of Pinar del Rio, Cuba, on the afternoon of August 30, 2008.
Top wind in a tornado: 302 mph (135 m/s), measured via Doppler radar at an altitude of 100 meters (330 feet), in the Bridge Creek, Oklahoma tornado of May 3, 1999.
Top surface wind not associated with a tropical cyclone or tornado: 231 mph (103.3 m/s), April 12, 1934 on the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire.
Top wind in a typhoon: 191 mph (85.4 m/s) on Taiwanese Island of Lanyu, Super Typhoon Ryan, Sep 22, 1995; also on island of Miyakojima, Super Typhoon Cora, Sep 5, 1966.
Top surface wind not measured on a mountain or in a tropical cyclone: 207 mph (92.5 m/s) measured in Greenland at Thule Air Force Base on March 6, 1972.
Top wind measured in a U.S. hurricane: 186 mph (83.1 m/s) measured at Blue Hill Observatory, Massachusetts, during the 1938 New England Hurricane.

References
Buchan, S.J., P.G. Black, and R.L. Cohen, 1999, "The Impact of Tropical Cyclone Olivia on Australia's Northwest Shelf", paper presented at the 1999 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, 3-6 May, 1999.

Black, P.G., Buchan, S.J., and R.L. Cohen, 1999, "The Tropical Cyclone Eyewall Mesovortex: A Physical Mechanism Explaining Extreme Peak Gust Occurrence in TC Olivia, 4 April 1996 on Barrow Island, Australia", paper presented at the 1999 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, 3-6 May, 1999.

Jeff Masters

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thanks for the info Pat, that is really cool/interesting
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
No Need to Wait (or Pay) for Climate Technology
The Global Innovation Commons is a massive interactive archive of energy-saving technologies already in the public domain.

Large tech companies like to claim that they need broad patents to encourage their investment in innovative new technologies. And they are poised to make a fortune by selling patent licenses for new “green technologies” designed to abate carbon emissions.

But David E. Martin, an intellectual property activist who works with many developing countries, argues that a great many green technologies are already in the public domain and ready to be developed. They just need to be identified and used.

Martin’s brilliant and subversive innovation, launched earlier this month, is called the Global Innovation Commons (GIC). The project is described in a cover article in the German magazine Der Spiegel called "Patent Lies: Who Says Saving the Planet Has to Cost a Fortune?"

The Global Innovation Commons is a massive interactive archive of energy-saving technologies whose patents have expired, been abandoned, or simply have no protection. The idea is to let entrepreneurs and national governments query the database on a country-by-country basis to identify helpful technologies that are in the public domain. Once identified, these technologies for energy, water, and agriculture are prime candidates for being developed at lower costs than patented technologies.

The World Bank is a partner on this project, along with the International Finance Corporation’s infoDev unit. The World Bank has estimated that the technologies in the GIC database could save more than $2 trillion in potential license fees. The Global Innovation Commons essentially seeks to bring the advantages of the open-source software development model—open participation, faster innovation, greater reliability, cheaper costs—to technologies that are claimed to be patented.

Here’s how the Global Information Commons describes the role of patents in impeding innovation—and how the new database helps establish a new open-innovation commons:

For the past 30 years, patents have been abused. Rather than serving the public’s expansion of knowledge, they’ve been used as business and legal weapons. Over 50,000,000 patents covering everything you do have served to keep you from benefiting in many aspects of your life. Many life-saving treatments have been kept from the market because they threaten established business interests. The world’s ecosystem has been severely damaged because efficiencies have been kept from entering the market.

In the face of all this, however, there is the good news: The thirty-year “cold war” of innovation is over. Today, you now have access to it all. In the Global Innovation Commons, we have assembled hundreds of thousands of innovations—most in the form of patents—which are either expired, no longer maintained (meaning that the fees to keep the patents in force have lapsed), disallowed, or unprotected in most, if not all, relevant markets. This means that, as of right now, you can take a step into a world full of possibilities, not roadblocks. You want clean water for China or Sudan—it’s in here. You want carbon-free energy—it’s in here. You want food production for Asia or South America—it’s in here.

Der Spiegel notes that the Global Information Commons database represents such a huge advance because it aggregates so many different patent-free technologies from so many different parts of the world:

[Martin’s] custom-made software and a vast server are programmed to trawl and compare hundreds of thousands of files containing patent information from what would seem an incongruous list of places: Papua New Guinea, Berlin, the Brazilian rain forest, New York. Some of these patents are current; others have expired. What Martin—and those who work with him at M-CAM—say they found is that one in three patents registered today on energy-saving technology duplicate gadgets that were first dreamed up in the wake of the 1970s oil crisis and are now freely available.

Martin says that a great many patents are not novel at all. They simply duplicate innovations that were made decades ago. But patent applications often disguise this fact by using colorful and complicated language. Overworked government patent examiners, struggling with limited resources and seeking to avoid legal hassles, often grant new patents that are not truly warranted.

Read full article
http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/no-need-to-wait-or-pay-for-climate-technology
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
The cyclone creates the meso vortices,and it is the individual meso vort,that makes the actual Higher gust within the cyclones wind field,usually in the Area of Max Convection or Active inflow Quad.



MESO-VORTICES OBSERVED BY WSR-88D IN THE EYE OF HURRICANE BERTHA


John E. Wright * and Shawn P. Bennett
National Weather Service, Carolina, Puerto Rico



1. INTRODUCTION

On 8 July 1996 Hurricane Bertha's eye moved across St Thomas and St John between 1:00 and 2:00 pm. The eye of Bertha passed 40 miles northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico at 5:00 pm. Still, the WSR-88D detected mesoscale features in the eyewall of the category 1 hurricane. Archive level IV data were reviewed for this event.

Various researchers have published articles on the structures and mesoscale features of hurricane eyewalls. Black (1993) found that intensifying hurricanes need strong, large updrafts in the eyewall to evacuate a substantial amount of mass out of the eyewall region to support low central pressure. Black found an updraft on the inside edge of the eyewall of Hurricane Hugo with a maximum of 8 ms-1 and a downdraft with a peak of 6 ms-1. Powell and Houston (1993) suggested that a large vertical vorticity component can be produced in a very small area of a hurricane. They added that wind shear is large due to the radial gradient, especially on the inward side of the eyewall wind maximum. A study of eleven hurricanes by Black et al. (1995) found the strongest upward motion is usually located upwind of the eyewall reflectivity maximum while the strongest downward motion lies downwind of the maximum. Furthermore, Fujita (1993) suggested that hurricane swirls (small vortices) occurred in the vicinity of Hurricane Andrew's eyewall where sustained winds decreased rapidly toward the eye. Fujita speculated the swirls occurred beneath the active convective towers resulting in fields of large vorticity and convergence. Marks and Houze (1984b) found in Hurricane Debby at altitudes of 2 to 4 km, in a portion of the developing eyewall, two mesoscale wind speed maxima and a mesoscale vortex were superimposed in the hurricane-scale circulation. Schubert and Guinn (1993) found through numerical model simulations that the polygonal eyewalls in some hurricanes are due to the barotropic instability associated with annular regions of high potential vorticity.

This study will suggest that in Hurricane Bertha some synoptic scale energy was transferred to the mesoscale, resulting in formation of meso-vortices on the inner edge of the eyewall. Then, the meso-vortices fed energy back to the synoptic scale through intensification of convection in the eyewall.

2. REFLECTIVITY DATA

Between 1811 and 1817 UTC a meso-vortex developed just north of the coast of St Thomas. It appeared as a 20-25 dBZ echo within the eye of the hurricane and moved east toward the eyewall. Figure 1 shows echoes associated with the meso-vortex circulation, which intensified to 40-44 dBZ by 1835 UTC and 45-49 dBZ by 1840 dBZ.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
more snow on the way

Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
Camille a Cat 5 in 1969 had a Gust recorded unofficially at the SeaBee Base in Long Beach,Miss of 212mph inside the Eyewall.

The instrument failed at 212 mph so the actual Max wasnt recorded if it was Higher.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
As I said in the last blog, I want to meet the design engineer for that anemometer. How often do you see them fail just as a hurricane is approaching?
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1451
HUGE BREAKING NOLA STORY



Louisiana awarded $474.7 million in Charity Hospital dispute

By Jan Moller, The Times-Picayune
January 27, 2010, 10:12AM

A federal arbitration panel has awarded Louisiana $474.7 million in compensation for hurricane-related damage to Charity Hospital, ending a long-standing dispute with the federal government and giving the state a substantial boost in its efforts to build a new teaching hospital in lower Mid-City.


The ruling from the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals is a victory for state officials, who had been seeking $492 million. Money from the settlement will go toward construction of a 424-bed, $1.2 billion hospital that would be build adjacent to a new U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency had valued the damage from Hurricane Katrina at $124 million and offered to settle the matter for $150 million
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
Quoting Bordonaro:
The snowfall totals for TN, NC, SC have not been posted yet, I believe due to the uncertainty of the actual path of the Low. It is now approaching S CAL right now. There is still a quwstion as to how much cold air gets pulled into it. We should have a better idea tomorrow :o).


Yeah. Some local forecasters are stepping out on a limb and whispering some early guesses, but I think those amounts will go up. Yesterday the forecast was for us to begin as rain changing over to a mix and then eventually snow. Today it's looking more like an ALL SNOW event for the Piedmont Triad.
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Quoting tornadodude:
Hey Aim,

Is the U of M campus area called College Park?


Dude, Dan, Flood -- I keep going in and out of blogs and it's always pre-ordained I'll be in the right one, but at the wrong time...or something like that! (:

Yes, it sure is, for the MAIN campus -- although the folks in Baltimore might disagree with me (oh, man, I do NOT want to tangle with anybody from Bal'mer -- some of them are descendants of stevedores -- seen "On the Waterfront"?

UMCP -- Univ. of MD, College Park
UMBC -- Univ. of MD, Baltimore Campus
UMUC -- Univ. of MD, University College (Huge attendance, main building in College Park, for returning, part-time, commuters, adult ed, distance learning, weekend students, military, overseas, etc.)
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Quoting TampaTom:


Near campus, he wants to go to the corner of Knox road and Route 1.... There are two places I can recommend (And I am pretty sure they are still there).

The first is the Santa Fe Cafe (Just north of Rte 1 on Knox). Great Mexican food and cheap beer (it is a college town, after all).

The other place is on Route 1 called R.J. Bentley's. Nice pub atmosphere... very good food (from what I can recall).

Both places are very local and are frequent campus haunts...


thanks a bunch!
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
Quoting tornadodude:


ok thanks! A friend of mine from Purdue is there, and wanted to know some good places to eat around there, any suggestions?

Washington DC, Reagan National Airport
Lat: 38.86 Lon: -77.03 Elev: 16
Last Update on Jan 27, 11:52 am EST

Overcast

42 °F
(6 °C)
Humidity: 43 %
Wind Speed: SW 13 G 16 MPH
Barometer: 30.20" (1022.5 mb)
Dewpoint: 21 °F (-6 °C)
Wind Chill: 35 °F (2 °C)
Visibility: 10.00 mi.


Near campus, he wants to go to the corner of Knox road and Route 1.... There are two places I can recommend (And I am pretty sure they are still there).

The first is the Santa Fe Cafe (Just north of Rte 1 on Knox). Great Mexican food and cheap beer (it is a college town, after all).

The other place is on Route 1 called R.J. Bentley's. Nice pub atmosphere... very good food (from what I can recall).

Both places are very local and are frequent campus haunts...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TampaTom:


I'm a Terp. The city the University of Maryland is located in is called College Park. And, when I went there (1987 - 1991), they referred to it as UMCP.

UMES - University of Maryland Eastern Shore
UMBC - University of Maryland Baltimore County
UMAB - University of Maryland at Baltimore

etc.

UMCP is the flagship campus...


ok thanks! A friend of mine from Purdue is there, and wanted to know some good places to eat around there, any suggestions?

Washington DC, Reagan National Airport
Lat: 38.86 Lon: -77.03 Elev: 16
Last Update on Jan 27, 11:52 am EST

Overcast

42 °F
(6 °C)
Humidity: 43 %
Wind Speed: SW 13 G 16 MPH
Barometer: 30.20" (1022.5 mb)
Dewpoint: 21 °F (-6 °C)
Wind Chill: 35 °F (2 °C)
Visibility: 10.00 mi.
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
I'm a Yellow Jacket, same years, TampaTom :)


Can it really have been THAT many years since college? Daaaaannnnggg.....
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thanks doc great update good topic
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Quoting tornadodude:
Hey Aim,

Is the U of M campus area called College Park?


I'm a Terp. The city the University of Maryland is located in is called College Park. And, when I went there (1987 - 1991), they referred to it as UMCP.

Other campuses were known as:

UMES - University of Maryland Eastern Shore
UMBC - University of Maryland Baltimore County
UMAB - University of Maryland at Baltimore

etc.

UMCP is the flagship campus...
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Quoting tornadodude:


thanks Ron.

It was the right thing to do


: )
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Aim, post 12? :P
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
Happy to see the new blog, awesome new record, pics, etc.

And my entry will even by blog-related, thank you for the Portlight entry.

Please everyone please revisit NRAamy's blog; she has posted some new, very user-friendly procedures for the Portlight auctions -- start time coming really soon, now.

And I'm happpy to see that RMM____ has posted that recipes are starting to come in to Recipes4Relief. Please don't stop now, keep sending or posting them.

And if you need any ideas for the week's meals, go to her blog. I keep making the same mistake over and over again...I go in there hungry...and then raid the frig.

RMM34667, Recipe4Relief@aol.com.
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Quoting Floodman:
I want to make one comment on the last blog: Matt, well done!


thanks Ron.

It was the right thing to do
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
I want to make one comment on the last blog: Matt, well done!
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Hey Aim,

Is the U of M campus area called College Park?
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
Thanks, Dr. M!
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
The instrument must have been well anchored!
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Quoting Bordonaro:
The snowfall totals for TN, NC, SC have not been posted yet, I believe due to the uncertainty of the actual path of the Low, and how much cold air gets pulled into it. We should have a better idea tomorrow :o).


Don't forget the Panhandle :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The snowfall totals for TN, NC, SC have not been posted yet, I believe due to the uncertainty of the actual path of the Low. It is now approaching S CAL right now. There is still a quwstion as to how much cold air gets pulled into it. We should have a better idea tomorrow :o).
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting natrwalkn:
Looking like a BIG snow coming to the NC Piedmont!! Can't seem to find any snowfall total maps, however.


I don't have one, but it also looks like you may have some good ice as well
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
Looking like a BIG snow coming to the NC Piedmont!! Can't seem to find any snowfall total maps, however.
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Quoting Patrap:
A new entry,..and a new Day at Last.


Well, blow me down! That's one heckuva gust!
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(update) Oppps...Olivia.. not Olga.. my mistake
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YES! thanks Jeff
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
A new entry,..and a new Day at Last.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.