Cooperative Institute for
Meteorological Satellite Studies


September 2, 2010

by: Sarah Monette

Fig1Another day, another flight. Fortunately for me, todayís flight started a little bit later, allowing for more sleep and a walk down the hill in daylight. It didnít prove to be any less interesting, however. Today the G-5 flew into Tropical Storm Fiona for the last time. As usual, I was doing the nowcasting, informing the plane of various patches of lightning and the occasional overshooting top. Then, this happened (see image). The squares of purple and blue represent five overshoots within a one by one degree box, right in front of the aircraft. I alerted them to this occurrence, received word that they copied, and proceeded to watch them fly right through the convectively active area. Only later did I learn the plane ascended to 48,000 feet to avoid this potential turbulence, so needless to say my heart was pounding for about 5 minutes as I watched the plane maneuver. This also got everyoneís attention in the room.

That wasnít my only chance to capture the roomís attention. Per usual, a PREDICT forecast discussion was given at 10 am local time (14 Z). Before the discussion (when the plane wasnít flying through convection), I was given the task to add a bit more information to my overshooting top line plots. I ran a test on one of the current invest areas, with the program indicating the invest had actually developed. Certain my program was wrong, I double-checked with a friend. Sure enough, the invest had developed into a tropical depression, so recently most in the room didnít even realize it (the National Hurricane Center didnít announce it until 11 am local time). If there was ever a time to show the higher-ups in the field that you kinda knew what you were talking about, that was it. As if that wasnít enough, the multi-agency forecast discussion included some of my images (per Chris Veldenís request) followed by an email of thanks from a ďmajor playerĒ at UWash. All in all, Iíd say it was a good day.

September 1, 2010

by: Sarah Monette

Field experiments definitely donít care about your original sleep schedule. Instead of getting up at 8 am, I report to the operation (op) center for a 6 am research mission. I have to admit, walking in the dimly lit darkness is kind of refreshing, the Atlantic Ocean can be heard (and seen) in the distance and everything is peaceful. Not that the op center isnít peaceful, but the typing (which Iím currently adding to) doesnít quite compare to the sound of crashing waves. Especially with Hurricane Earl still causing some nice swells.

My main job on flight days is to provide nowcasting for the research missions, which today flew a G5 into Tropical Storm Fiona. The flight started out just fine, until the scientists started to deviate from their original flight plan. This was fine; the entire flight just got moved to the west to account for the additional westward propagation of Fiona. However, the flight decided to cut off entire leg of the flight plan. So, the original flight plan was removed from the map, and I just paid attention to what was directly in front of the planeís nose. Some lightning and turbulence had to be avoided, and then the plane started turning around in the middle of the flight to head back to Barbados. No more dropsondes and too much convection. Guess its an early day.

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