Wednesday, September 18th, 2019 11:30 Z

Aircraft Reconnaissance

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Tropical Globe's Live Reconnaissance System

  • Current Recon | Reconnaissance Archive
    Tropical Globe has live reconnaissance in the Atlantic and East Pacific basins for the Air Force and NOAA hurricane hunters. Dropsonde data from the NASA Global Hawk is also available when the data is relayed in the same way as NOAA dropsondes. Sometimes dropsonde data is also available in the West Pacific near Taiwan as part of Taiwan's DOTSTAR (Dropwindsonde Observations for Typhoon Surveillance near the Taiwan Region) project.

    For a tutorial on how to use our recon system, and for additional informative info, click here.

National Hurricane Center's (NHC) Aircraft Reconnaissance

  • Plan of the Day: For Today | For Tomorrow
    The Plan of the Day details planned recon missions. To view how to read the Plan of the Day, click here. The Plan of the Day is often released around 11am to noon Eastern time daily during the hurricane season. The "For Tomorrow" link contains the most recently released Plan of the Day. The "For Today" link is the prior issued Plan of the Day, usually from the previous day. If a Plan of the Day is corrected, then both links might have data from the same day. You can view older plans here if that happens.
  • NHC's Reconnaissance Data Archive
    In this near real-time archive you can access raw text data from the NHC from 1989 to the present. It might take about 15 to 30 minutes before data appears in the archive.

Sites of the Hurricane Hunters

  • Air Force Hurricane Hunters (Website, Twitter, Facebook)
    The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (view Wikipedia entry) is part of the 403rd Wing (view Wikipedia entry), part of the U.S. Air Force. You can view a fact sheet here about the Air Force hurricane hunters. For news, click here to view news articles on the Air Force's website.
  • NOAA Hurricane Hunters (Website, Twitter, Facebook)
    The NOAA Hurricane Hunters (view Wikipedia entry) are part of the Department of Commerce.
  • NASA Hurricanes / Tropical Cyclones (Website, Twitter, Facebook)
    NASA has an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), the Global Hawk, which can fly up to about 24 hours over a storm. NASA also has other aircraft used in tropical research missions that our site does not track. You can track NASA aircraft here.

Other Data & Information

  • Historical Reconnaissance Data
    Hurricane reconnaissance first occurred in 1943. Our reconnaissance archive only has data since 1989 since that is when the NHC's Reconnaissance Data Archive starts. Our reconnaissance system has a page about reconnaissance data that is not available on our site, including data prior to 1989. NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (HRD) also has a lot of data on their site from NOAA missions in and around current storms, much of which is not available through our site.
  • Hurricane Data from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (HRD)
    NOAA's HRD contains additional information for NOAA recon.
  • Blog from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (HRD)
    Their blog has a lot of great information, especially about NOAA missions.
  • Other Sites to Track NOAA Aircaft
    You can may be able to view the tracks of NOAA aircraft at FlightAware.

    NOAA42 (Lockheed WP-3D Orion - "Kermit")
    NOAA43 (Lockheed WP-3D Orion - "Miss Piggy")
    NOAA49 ( Gulfstream IV-SP - G-IV - "Gonzo")

    When observations in our recon system are not available, you may be able to check the links above to see if FlightAware has tracking data for the plane you want to locate. This is not available for Air Force aircraft. You can also try the NASA site here to try tracking NOAA aircraft.
  • National Hurricane Operations Plan (NHOP)
    Chapter 5 and Appendix G of the National Hurricane Operations Plan can be read for an understanding of how our site's recon system works.

    Historical versions of NHOP are below. The years 2005 to 2014 are hard to find since NOAA and the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology (OFCM) have rearranged their sites. We have added those to our site.

    - 2015 through present
    - 2005 to 2014: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
    - 1967 to 2004

    The page for other plans, such as the National Winter Storms Operations Plan (NWSOP), is here.
  • GPS Dropwindsonde Wind Profiles in Hurricanes and Their Operational Implications
    This is a really good paper about the estimated reduction factors that can help estimate the surface winds in storms based on flight level winds. See "Table 2" for "Recommended operational wind adjustment factors for adjusting reconnaissance flight-level winds to the surface, for the hurricane-eyewall and outer-vortex regions". You can download the paper here.
  • NOAA/NCEP Real Time Data Monitoring System (to determine if any dropsondes were added to the GFS)
    This National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) page has links that can let you know how many dropsondes have been added into the GFS. Once on the page above, look for "Model Data Dump Tables". Under "GFS", click the run you want to look at. (00z, 06z, 12z or 18z) If you want to simply view the number of sondes that have been added into the particular run, click "View GFS Data Text Summary". On the next page, look for "dropw", which is "Dropwinsonde (from TEMP DROP)". You will see the number added under the "Hourly Count" column. If you want to see the number of dropsondes added for that particular run each day over the past month, instead of clicking "View GFS Data Text Summary", click "dropw". You will see a chart that has the count added for each day for that particular GFS run you are looking at. The monthly average count is also available, which was also available on the "GFS Data Text Summary" page. The page here says that dropsonde data is "usually from TPC or USAF (CARCAH) or occasionally from non U.S. sources".

    The product with the header "NOUS42 KWNO" might also tell you sometimes about dropsonde data. You can access it at any of the following links. (1, 2, 3) Because only one message is displayed at a time, an archive is helpful. The page here has one. Select the month and year you want to view the messages for. Then search within the page by pressing the "Ctrl + F" keys to search for the word "sonde" among all the messages for the month. You can also view the last 50 messages, by viewing one at a time, on the NWS site here.
  • Flhurricane.com Decoder (for older vortex and supplementary vortex messages)
    In 2018 the vortex message format changed. In addition to our site's vortex decoder, which decodes both the old and new format, the vortex decoder at flhurricane.com decodes the old format. As of updating this page their decoder does not decode the new format. Their site's decoder can also decode the older supplementary vortex message which is no longer used. Our decoder does not decode supplementary vortex messages.