CAMEX hurricane hunters prepare
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Here comes Bonnie! First CAMEX-3 storm aims for Florida
Aug. 21, 1998: (This is the sixth in a series of stories covering the ongoing CAMEX mission to hunt hurricane data in a way not done since the 50s. Other stories are linked in below.)
Tropical Storm Bonnie is headed for the southeast United States and a probable rendezvous with the CAMEX-3 scientists who want to measure how a hurricane gains strength and how it is lost when the storm is over land.
The CAMEX-3 team flew the DC-8 Thursday to measure conditions in the area ahead of Bonnie since the moisture and energy there will determine how strong it becomes as a hurricane.
Bonnie was upgraded from tropical depression to storm during the night, and is expected to hit hurricane strength in the next day or two. Its current track would put it at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., where the CAMEX-3 team is based, on Monday morning.
Left: This National Hurricane Center display shows the probability that the center of the tropical cyclone will pass within 120 km (75 mi) of a location during the next 72 hours. Contour levels shown are 10%, 20%, 50% and 100% (links to 16KB image).
"Might be a trip inland if Bonnie tracks at us. Still the most significant feature on the map for us, but I would expect that the following wave will have become TD-04 [tropical depression-4] by this time, and might reach tropical storm strength by the end of the period," wrote CAMEX forecaster R. Wohlman.
"Elsewhere, another wave at 40W has some potential for development, as does the most recent off of the African continent at 21W."
No changes over Florida are expected until Sunday.
"Watch for afternoon thunder storms over much of Florida, with the east coast of Florida remaining in this same regime. I like the current track for Bonnie- but think that they may bend it a bit more south heading more to the south of us (hunch)," Wohlman's forecast continues. "It will depend on the ridge weakening to the north, and right now I don't see anything that looks like it will break it down."
Into the storm: The image at right shows atmospheric instruments protruding from the nose of the instrumentation "superpod" on the port wing of the ER-2 that will study hurricanes at high altitude during CAMEX-3 (links to 91KB image). credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA
With the 2- to 3-day forecast, Wohlman foresees a possible trip inland for the CAMEX-3 team. Patrick Air Force Base will be fully exposed to the hurricane's fury. It is on Florida's Atlantic coast, a low, thin strip of land between the ocean and the Indian River before you reach the peninsula proper. The airfield is less than a mile from the beach. Thus, the trip "inland" would be all the way to Warner Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia.
Even after Bonnie moves through, the CAMEX team will have plenty to keep it busy.
"Looks like a daisy chain of waves continuing from Africa," Wohlman continues "Might be a decent hurricane season! Long range probabilities bring a front into the east of the U.S. by Tuesday, but this all might be moot with Bonnie wandering around, but the mid-range forecast looks for another tropical storm in the Bahama region by the end of the period."
Note: More details are available in the NASA press release describing CAMEX-3. Check back as hurricane season progresses. We will post science updates as the campaign develops.
PIX: High resolution scans of 35mm camera photos from the CAMEX-3 campaign are available from Public Affairs Office at NASA headquarters. Please call the NASA Headquarters Photo Department at 202-358-1900, or contact Bill Ingalls at email@example.com.
CAMEX Series Headlines
Overview CAMEX story , describes
the program in detail.
NCAR has an extensive writeup on the GPS dropsondes used in CAMEX-3 and other atmospheric campaigns.
A new study - not related to CAMEX-3 - by the Arizona State University suggests a link between hurricanes in the northwest Atlantic and air pollution.
CAMEX-3 - the third Convection and Moisture Experiment - is an interagency project to measure hurricane dynamics at high altitude, a method never employed before over Atlantic storms. From this, scientists hope to understand better how hurricanes are powered and to improve the tools they use to predict hurricane intensity.
An overview story (Aug. 12, 1998) describes the program in detail. The study is part of NASA's Earth Science enterprise to better understand the total Earth system and the effects of natural and human-induced changes on the global environment.
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