Hurricane Sandy Provides an Opportunity to Test and Develop New Tropical Cyclone Wind and Wind Gust Tools

Some Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) in the Carolinas and Virginia will likely be impacted by the wind field associated with Hurricane Sandy over the weekend. The image to the right shows the forecast track and intensity of Sandy along with four-quadrant forecasts of the wind radii. The most recent forecast package extends the 34+kt radii into coastal North Carolina on Sunday at 12 UTC.

Improving the forecasts of winds and wind gusts during Tropical Cyclones (TCs) is a focus area of an ongoing Collaborative Science, Technology, and Applied Research (CSTAR) project with NC State University and several NWS WFOs in the Southeast. As a part of this project, collaborators have completed a broad climatology of wind and wind gusts associated with TCs, performed a verification of NDFD wind forecasts in TCs, are developing new smart tools and grids to use in the Gridded Forecast Editor (GFE), and are investigating potential improvements to the TCMWindTool among other activities.

Sandy is providing the first opportunity to test and evaluate new GFE tools and grids with a real storm. On Thursday afternoon, Lead Forecaster Scott Sharp at WFO Raleigh used the new TCWindGust smart tool to create Wind Gust grids on Saturday and Sunday. Scott used the “CSTAR Regression” option with the tool and was happy with the result. The tool and the research project was even noted in the Area Forecast Discussion this afternoon (see below). More information on the science behind the development of the TCWindGust smart tool is available in a previous blog post – “A Wind Gust Factor Database from 10 Tropical Cyclones for Use with GFE Tool Development.”

These tools will be tested and examined during the course of the few days by some of the staff at WFO Raleigh and Wilmington. The evaluation has already proved fruitful as WFO Wilmington ITO Carl Morgan created a new tool this afternoon that will be used to assign wind reduction factors to the Wind grids. Look for additional comments and examples from the CSTAR TC wind group during the next few days.

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