Tropical Weather Discussion - Friday, August 26, 2011

By: Randy Bynon , 9:33 PM GMT on August 21, 2011

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I'm back from St. Croix after two weeks there and a week and half of flying Irene. The Hurricane Hunters haver pulled their crews out of St. Croix, brought them home to Biloxi, pulled in some fresh crews, and are deploying to Savannah, GA to continue flying Irene for the next day or so until she makes landfall in New England. I'll focus solely on Irene for this discussion.

The 5pm advisory for Irene put the storm at 265 miles SSW of Cape Hatteras, NC moving N at 14 mph. Maximum winds were at 100 mph and central pressure was at 951mb. Irene has weakened slightly today but is still a powerful hurricane. There are two factors that make this storm particularly dangerous. One is the size of the wind field. The Hurricane Hunters are measuring tropical storm force winds as far out as 250 miles on the east side of the storm. The second factor is that these storms do not often strike New England. Because of that, many residents in the New England areas affected by this storm may not take it as seriously as they should. This will prove to be a very significant storm for everyone from NC to ME. I would urge folks in this region to take every precaution in preparation for this storm.

The models are all in very good agreement on the track of Irene. A trough approaching the eastern half of the US is pulling Irene northward now and a turn toward the NNE is expected tonight. This will allow Irene to run along the east coast. As it approaches NY, it's not expected to accelerate as much as systems often do at this stage and so will pound the New England coastline from NJ to MA with heavy rains and tropical storm to occasionally hurricane force winds for an extended period of time as it traverses the region. This will be made worse by the extend of tropical storm force winds east of the center. This will mean that even though the center of the storm will be well inland over western MA by late Saturday night, Boston will likely still see tropical storm force winds with this system. By late Monday Irene should be well north of the New England into Canada as a tropical storm.

Current satellite shows a lot of dry air west of Irene and that is helping to impede any strengthening. Also stronger SW winds aloft ahead of the approaching trough is helping to create some increased shear over the system.



These factors are combining to weaken the system, somewhat, which is a blessing since it means that Irene will likely not make landfall in NC as a major Cat 3 storm. In fact, the official NHC forecast has it down to a cat 1 by landfall in NC early Sat morning.



We'll keep watching Irene over the next 72 hours as she makes her way up the east coast.

For those with iPhone, iPod Touches, and iPad's, there is a new app on the App store designed to help track the Hurricane Hunter flights and all the storms in the Atlantic. It's the first app I have seen that plots the flight tracks and the data generated by the flights.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hurricanehunterapp colallc/id456831217?mt=8

Give it a try. And let me know what you think (No, it's not my app but I know the creators).

Stay safe.

Randy

I'm posting some pictures from my hotel as we wait it out. I'll post again after we fly Irene in the morning by which time NHC expects Irene to be a hurricane.


Randy

TS Irene (LRandyB)
TS Irene in St. Croix
TS Irene
()
TS Irene (LRandyB)
TS Irene in St. Croix
TS Irene
TS Irene in St. Croix (LRandyB)
2 of 3 ... Calm winds as the center of TS Irene passes over
TS Irene in St. Croix
TS Irene in St. Croix (LRandyB)
3 of 3 ... South winds as TS Irene moves away.
TS Irene in St. Croix
Hurricane Irene (LRandyB)
Our third pass through Irene
Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene (LRandyB)
Aircraft radar image as we pass through the center of Irene
Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene (LRandyB)
Radar image from the aircraft as we made our first penetration.
Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene (LRandyB)
Ragged eye of Irene
Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene (LRandyB)
Approaching the eye
Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene (LRandyB)
The sun peeking over the top of the eyewall
Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene (LRandyB)
Rain pelts the plane as we fly through the eyewall
Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene (LRandyB)
By the fourth pass, Irene had a pretty well developed eyewall
Hurricane Irene

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46. Randy Bynon , Dropsonde SysOp/AVAPS PM
9:44 PM GMT on August 27, 2011

Quoting whitewabit:
Randy ... when are you flying next ... would love to be up there with you guys ...

Thank You and the others for the great job you do for all of us!!!
I've finished my annual tour with the unit but I live locally to the unit here in Biloxi so I may get to fly again on anything that we can get to from here later in the season. 
Member Since: July 17, 2001 Posts: 190 Comments: 2012
45. Randy Bynon , Dropsonde SysOp/AVAPS PM
9:43 PM GMT on August 27, 2011

Quoting ScarlettOHara:
Link

Don't know if you guys saw this; interesting piece. Wish you were there.
There are actually several videos out there mostly from that same flight. Once we pulled back from St. Croix and started flying Irene from here in the states, the media was all over it! 
Member Since: July 17, 2001 Posts: 190 Comments: 2012
44. Randy Bynon , Dropsonde SysOp/AVAPS PM
9:38 PM GMT on August 27, 2011

Quoting palmettobug53:
Facilities Bug/Rays?

Code, do you remember my "Outhouse" blog some years back?

It was right along that time and I asked Randy just what the 'facilities' were like on the plane.

Rays chimed in, "God, Bug. Trust you to ask something like that."

I replied, "Well, inquiring minds want to know."

Randy just laughed and said the 'facilities' were rather primitive and the female crew members weren't too enthused with what amounted to a bucket behind a curtain.

Oh, heck, I might as well ask.

Randy, have the facilities improved any since then? LOL
LOL I do remember that line of blogging!!! :-)
But since you ask, yes, on the J-model, the facilities are better than they used to be though still not something the women like to use. It's basically been upgraded from a bucket behind a curtain to a toilet behind a curtain! :-)
Member Since: July 17, 2001 Posts: 190 Comments: 2012
43. ScarlettOHara
9:34 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Link

Don't know if you guys saw this; interesting piece. Wish you were there.
Member Since: October 25, 2006 Posts: 186 Comments: 5805
42. whitewabit
6:31 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Randy ... when are you flying next ... would love to be up there with you guys ...

Thank You and the others for the great job you do for all of us!!!
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 376 Comments: 35551
41. palmettobug53
6:25 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Facilities Bug/Rays?

Code, do you remember my "Outhouse" blog some years back?

It was right along that time and I asked Randy just what the 'facilities' were like on the plane.

Rays chimed in, "God, Bug. Trust you to ask something like that."

I replied, "Well, inquiring minds want to know."

Randy just laughed and said the 'facilities' were rather primitive and the female crew members weren't too enthused with what amounted to a bucket behind a curtain.

Oh, heck, I might as well ask.

Randy, have the facilities improved any since then? LOL
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 245 Comments: 26071
40. TealRetired
1:06 AM GMT on August 27, 2011
Randy - tried the IPad App - good graphics but so far it loads the mission 30 overlay for mission 28 or 29.
Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 12
39. ScarlettOHara
2:47 AM GMT on August 26, 2011
That's neat! Thanks for the info. Take care .. be safe .. look forward to your updates. ;)
Member Since: October 25, 2006 Posts: 186 Comments: 5805
38. Randy Bynon , Dropsonde SysOp/AVAPS PM
2:01 AM GMT on August 26, 2011
Quoting ScarlettOHara:
Those are awesome pictures! The sun over the eyewall is my favorite! Thanks for sharing, and stay safe!

How far up North will the HH monitor Irene? (showing my ignorance here) Are there other bases/squadrons?? that take over or will you ?? restage?? (don't know the lingo, sorry) ..

Thanks!!


We'll monitor Irene as long as she is over water and a threat to land. We're the only ones that do the mission so no one else will take it. We're staging out of Savannah starting tomorrow to fly the storm until it makes landfall in NC.
Member Since: July 17, 2001 Posts: 190 Comments: 2012
37. lawntonlookirs
9:05 PM GMT on August 25, 2011
Thanks for the pictures Randy. Waiting to see what the storm does as it gets further North. I also am woundering how far North the HCH will travel.. Stay safe
Member Since: April 18, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 33
36. ScarlettOHara
2:17 PM GMT on August 25, 2011
Those are awesome pictures! The sun over the eyewall is my favorite! Thanks for sharing, and stay safe!

How far up North will the HH monitor Irene? (showing my ignorance here) Are there other bases/squadrons?? that take over or will you ?? restage?? (don't know the lingo, sorry) ..

Thanks!!
Member Since: October 25, 2006 Posts: 186 Comments: 5805
35. BrowardJeff
3:07 AM GMT on August 25, 2011
Thanks for the info, and the new pics, Randy!
I'll let them know tomorrow at the office.
You make me look intelligent. :)
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 5 Comments: 942
34. reeldrlaura
2:14 AM GMT on August 25, 2011
GREAT PICS, AS ALWAYS RANDY!!! Always a pleasure to read your updates!
Member Since: July 31, 2005 Posts: 93 Comments: 6007
33. code1
1:56 AM GMT on August 25, 2011
Nice pics. LOL Just happy to read you are grounded again! It's that maternal thing again. :-) Surely praying for all in her path & thankful for those of you bringing real time to us. Facilities Bug/Rays? I would've peed my pants on the Tarmac looking at that C130 & knowing what my mission was! God Bless our Troops far and wide, no matter their mission!
Member Since: September 18, 2005 Posts: 66 Comments: 13872
32. Randy Bynon , Dropsonde SysOp/AVAPS PM
1:18 AM GMT on August 25, 2011
Got back from our flight today! We found Cat 3 winds in the eyewall of the storm and the pressure supported cat 3 so NHC upgraded the storm. It's definitely getting its act together! I posted some new pictures from today's flight!
Member Since: July 17, 2001 Posts: 190 Comments: 2012
31. Randy Bynon , Dropsonde SysOp/AVAPS PM
1:17 AM GMT on August 25, 2011
Quoting BrowardJeff:
Hey Randy,

One of my co-workers is asking about the dropsondes.

They actually drop and fall all the way into the water, right? Do they degrade, or are we putting a bunch of trash out there?

Not questioning the usefulness at all - just wondering about side effects and such.

Thanks!


-Jeff


They do fall all the way to the water and are about 90% biodegradable. SO not too much garbage!
Member Since: July 17, 2001 Posts: 190 Comments: 2012
30. Raysfan70
1:07 AM GMT on August 25, 2011
Quoting palmettobug53:
Be keerful, Randy. Bring us back some good info and pics.

(See, Rays? I didn't mention a thing about the facilities!)


LOL! It was a long flight Bug. :)
Member Since: July 28, 2005 Posts: 138 Comments: 57354
29. BrowardJeff
6:26 PM GMT on August 24, 2011
Hey Randy,

One of my co-workers is asking about the dropsondes.

They actually drop and fall all the way into the water, right? Do they degrade, or are we putting a bunch of trash out there?

Not questioning the usefulness at all - just wondering about side effects and such.

Thanks!


-Jeff
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 5 Comments: 942
28. palmettobug53
4:55 PM GMT on August 24, 2011
Be keerful, Randy. Bring us back some good info and pics.

(See, Rays? I didn't mention a thing about the facilities!)
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 245 Comments: 26071
27. Raysfan70
10:23 AM GMT on August 24, 2011
Have a good flight!
Member Since: July 28, 2005 Posts: 138 Comments: 57354
26. Randy Bynon , Dropsonde SysOp/AVAPS PM
6:36 AM GMT on August 24, 2011
Headed out to fly Irene as a cat 2 hurricane today. Hopefully I'll get some good pictures!
Member Since: July 17, 2001 Posts: 190 Comments: 2012
25. Randy Bynon , Dropsonde SysOp/AVAPS PM
6:35 AM GMT on August 24, 2011
Quoting SuperYooper:
Interesting question posted on Dr. Masters blog that I was wondering if you could share.

How do mission flying hours compare to repair/maintenence hours? You guys take a beating up there and we know there are budget constraints.

Thanks for doing what you do!


That's a good question. The planes we fly now in the AF, the Lockheed C-130J Hurcules, is a pretty reliable aircraft and based on my experience, more reliable than the previous models we have flown. More often than not, we come back from our missions without any maintenance problems. The J model is a computerized, glass cockpit aircraft. That makes it easier for the crews to fly but it also makes it easier for the technicians to maintain the aircraft. The arrays of computers that monitor all the systems and the sensors that send the information to the computers about virtually all the systems on the aircraft make it easy for the maintainers to determine what the problem is when one occurs. Essentially the airplane tells us exactly what's wrong with it.

I think the environment we fly these planes into isn't really any tougher on the plane than the environment it's designed to fly in. The tactical airlift and airdrop crews take these planes into dirt airstrips in the middle east, landing hard, taking off and landing on short unimproved strips with heavy payloads. That's probably much tougher on the airplane then what we do to it.

Randy

Member Since: July 17, 2001 Posts: 190 Comments: 2012
24. SuperYooper
1:27 PM GMT on August 23, 2011
Interesting question posted on Dr. Masters blog that I was wondering if you could share.

How do mission flying hours compare to repair/maintenence hours? You guys take a beating up there and we know there are budget constraints.

Thanks for doing what you do!
Member Since: August 18, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 1606
23. ninip
1:15 PM GMT on August 23, 2011
It's nice to see pictures of dark rainy days. I have forgotten what they look like here in Central Texas. Do you think this high pressure "dome" will ever move from over us so we can get some moisture down here? This is getting very scary for us. Cattle are dying and we are feeding 14 deer due to this drought. They have no food or water and we can not bare to see them starve to death. Thanks for the info and the pics.
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
22. AllyBama
1:14 AM GMT on August 23, 2011
Thanks Randy! so glad that we have you on WU!
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 133 Comments: 20649
21. BahaHurican
1:13 AM GMT on August 23, 2011
Thanks for the photos, Randy. And you may want to pass the word to your pilots... lots of pple on Dr. Masters' blog thought that takeoff in the "eye" of Irene was pretty nifty.... :o)
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 24033
20. palmettobug53
12:57 AM GMT on August 23, 2011
Thanks, Randy. It's always interesting to get your 'bird's eye' perspective.

Hehehehe, guess you showed him, huh, Jeff? Your acquaintance at work should spend a little more time online!
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 245 Comments: 26071
19. BrowardJeff
12:27 AM GMT on August 23, 2011
Thanks for the photos, Randy. It's such a...unique perspective.

A friend at work today was talking about how the general public gets filtered information about tropical systems, based on what the NHC puts in their statements, and how the TV stations translate them..

I pointed out that if you tried, there was lots of real information out there..and brought your blog up to show that we can even get reports direct from hurricane hunters.

He was suitably impressed. ;)

-Jeff
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 5 Comments: 942
18. Randy Bynon , Dropsonde SysOp/AVAPS PM
11:55 PM GMT on August 22, 2011
Quoting Raysfan70:
Thanks Randy!!

Will you fly again on Wednesday?


Thanks Rays! I haven't been told but yes, I would think I'll come up in the rotation again Wednesday!
Member Since: July 17, 2001 Posts: 190 Comments: 2012
17. Raysfan70
11:24 PM GMT on August 22, 2011
Thanks Randy!!

Will you fly again on Wednesday?
Member Since: July 28, 2005 Posts: 138 Comments: 57354
16. mermaidlaw
11:23 PM GMT on August 22, 2011
Thank you Randy for all that you do!
Member Since: July 23, 2006 Posts: 20 Comments: 8849
15. Randy Bynon , Dropsonde SysOp/AVAPS PM
11:17 PM GMT on August 22, 2011
Hi folks! I am back! My crew got the first "pennies" (hurricane eyewall penetrations) for the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season with Irene this morning.

Irene wasn't too terribly impressive as a storm goes. We made four passes through the center of the storm as it skirted along the northern coast of Puerto Rico. The pressure held study at 989mb on all the passes and the winds actually decreased slightly but we still found strong catagory one winds in the northern semicircle of the storm. Irene began to slow somewhat during our four passes slowing from 12 knots to only about 8 knots. And even the 12 knots was slow compared to the 20 knots it was traveling at prior to hitting us in St. Croix last night.

I posted the images from today as well as a series showing the change in wind direction here on the island as Irene passed overhead last night.
Member Since: July 17, 2001 Posts: 190 Comments: 2012
14. OGal
6:31 PM GMT on August 22, 2011



Hi Randy, waitin to hear what you find. Sitting here in Orlando wondering exactly what we will be faced with. Looks like mainly TS winds. That would be enough to clean out all my trees. Thanks for the Saint Coix pic.

Congratulations on your recent marriage. Hope your new lady is understanding for all the flying trips you need to go on. I am so glad you are happy.
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 72 Comments: 19224
13. sharnlar
6:24 PM GMT on August 22, 2011
and congrats on your new bride!
Member Since: August 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1
12. sharnlar
6:23 PM GMT on August 22, 2011
Hi Randy :
Larry and Sharon from Homestead Hope you send that thing somewhere else
Member Since: August 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1
11. BahaHurican
11:16 AM GMT on August 22, 2011
Great stuff! Enjoy, and Stay Safe!
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 24033
10. Randy Bynon , Dropsonde SysOp/AVAPS PM
9:30 AM GMT on August 22, 2011
About to take off out of St.Croix for the first hurricane penetration of the 2011 Hurrixane Season. Doesn't look too rough! I have my camera so I'll try to get some pictures in between sonde drops!
Member Since: July 17, 2001 Posts: 190 Comments: 2012
9. AllyBama
4:19 AM GMT on August 22, 2011
Have a safe flight Randy..and "ditto" what
code said..lol
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8. ScarlettOHara
3:31 AM GMT on August 22, 2011
Stay safe; looking forward to your update.
Member Since: October 25, 2006 Posts: 186 Comments: 5805
7. code1
11:57 PM GMT on August 21, 2011
Stay safe m'friend. Push her way east. Am liking nothing in the GOM. Will look forward to your updates and pics.
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6. BrowardJeff
11:43 PM GMT on August 21, 2011
Be safe, Randy.
I enjoy hearing the reports from your perspective..and the pictures, of course!
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 5 Comments: 942
5. BahaHurican
11:39 PM GMT on August 21, 2011
Hey Randy.... I guess that means u didn't just go wheels up.... We'll be pretty interested to see how things go in the morning, especially if u r going to be on the NW side of PR....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 24033
4. cyclonebuster
11:19 PM GMT on August 21, 2011
Ah! No need to worry Rangy. I placed my Tunnels in cooling phase already. My simulation says Key West to Homestead is already protected. That's 110 miles of Florida shoreline protected in just one day of cooling. Check out my blog and see how much cooling we get for two days of cooling tomorrow at around noon. Stay safe up there.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 134 Comments: 20813
3. TealRetired
10:46 PM GMT on August 21, 2011
Hey Randy - Is that the view from the Buc? Oh for the good ol days! Looks like the last plane took off into the storm!
Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 12
2. whitewabit
9:41 PM GMT on August 21, 2011
Randy ... I echo the same thoughts stay safe...
Always watching you guys as you fly those missions... you do such a wonderful job letting us know exactly what is happening within a storm.. Again Gods Speed to you and the others!!!
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 376 Comments: 35551
1. palmettobug53
9:36 PM GMT on August 21, 2011
Fly safe, Randy.

I don't like being in the crosshairs!
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 245 Comments: 26071

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I was an AF aviation weather forecaster for 12 years, then 15 years as a dropsonde systems operator with the AF Reserve Hurricane Hunters.

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