Wind Data

Contents:

Upper Level Winds (including shear and steering currents)

  • Site Thumbnail The tropical cyclone page at the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has a tremendous amount of data.

    Various satellite products are available for active storms, and invests, worldwide. On their front page you can click a storm icon on their map to view data specific to that storm. The second map on their front page has color coded regions. Hover your mouse over a region and options will appear that allow you to choose what product you would like to view. Some of the wind products are listed below.

    The products below have data every three hours. You can step forward and backward using the "Time Step" option. Most of the products below have a "5-Day Movie" option below the image you are viewing.

    For the Western North Atlantic: For the East Atlantic / Africa:
  • Site Thumbnail There are multiple sections on this product page. In the first two sections there is imagery available that shows "Real-Time", "Climatological" and "Anomaly" data. The first part of this graphical product has the tropical cyclone formation probability that a tropical cyclone will form over the next 0 to 24 hours, 24 to 48 hours and 0 to 48 hours. The next section contains the input parameters that were used. There is imagery for the 0 to 24 hour period and then imagery for the 24 to 48 hour period.

    "NCEP global forecasts, Reynolds weekly sea surface temperature, and GOES-East, GOES-West, MTSAT-1R and Meteosat-7 channel-3 (water vapor) imagery are used as input to an algorithm to estimate the probability of tropical cyclone formation within 500km of each grid point within the next 48 hours 45 S to 45 N and 0 to 360 E. The product domain is divided into 7 main basins based on satellite coverage and warning agency boundaries."

    Site Thumbnail The third section contains a series of charts. For each of the Atlantic subbasins defined in the image on that page there is a series of charts for each of the input parameters that contains data year-to-date. There is also a chart for the formation probability. The current value on the particular chart is represented by a blue line. The climatological value is represented in black.

    There are numerous input parameters to look at. For example, you can see how the current analysed shear compares to the average shear this time of year in various regions, either on a map in the second section of the page or on a chart at the end of the page for a particular subbasin in the Atlantic.

    "Time series products comparing the current and climatological parameters over the sub-basins are provided on the web site."

    This product is available globally. You can access other regions in the left column on the product page.

    The Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch (RAMMB) of NOAA/NESDIS and the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) have an experimental version of this product. They separate the 0 to 24 hour input parameters and the 24 to 48 hour parameters onto different pages. You can view the experimental version for the Atlantic at those pages. Note: When this experimental version is being updated it is possible that it may not contain valid data at times. If you have any doubt, go with the official version. We noticed an issue in this experimental version in August 2020 when a few of the charts at the bottom of the page didn't closely match data from the operational version. When we contacted them they said they were in the middle of making an adjustment and that it would soon be consistent again. While the operational version uses an older algorithm, it has been vetted.

Surface Winds

The following section contains imagery that has been created using remote sensing instruments on satellites. To learn more about how these satellites orbit, such as what an ascending and descending pass is, you can visit "Satellite Characteristics: Orbits and Swaths" from the Canadian government.
  • Ocean Surface Winds Team (OSWT) of the Center for Satellite Application and Research (STAR), NOAA/NESDIS
    Site Thumbnail
    OSWT page to view Metop ASCAT-A imagery
    This site contains various surface wind techniques. Take a look at the options in the left column of the page. You'll see some of the following surface wind techniques and measurements under "Data Products".

    Make sure you understand how the time is printed on the imagery. The time (in Zulu) at the top is not the time of the data you see in the image. Make sure to read the information at the bottom of the imagery. As of updating this section, for most of the products below, data on the image is sometime from the prior 22 hours from the time at the top. The time, or times, at the bottom of the image, in purple, represent the time a measurement was made in that pass at the latitude given in the text at the bottom of the image.
    • Metop satellites
      Site Thumbnail
      Metop ASCAT-A ascending imagery for October 9th, 2018, the day before Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida
      "Metop-A (launched on 19 October 2006), Metop-B (launched on 17 September 2012) and Metop-C (launched 7 November 2018) are in a lower polar orbit, at an altitude of 817 kilometres, to provide more detailed observations of the global atmosphere, oceans and continents." - EUMETSAT Wind speed and wind direction in imagery. You can learn more about the Metop satellites at EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites), a Wikipedia article here or the product description here on NOAA's OSWT site.
    • Wind speed and wind direction in imagery. You can learn more about WindSat in a Wikipedia article here, which contains additional links in the "Bibliography" section, on NOAA's Center for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR) site here or on the product description page here on NOAA's OSWT site.
    • As of updating this page in 2020, data has been unavailable since 2018 on this site for this instrument.
      Only wind speed is available in imagery. You can learn more about the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) in a Wikipedia article here, the product description page here on NOAA's OSWT site or a page here on JPL's site that is no longer available, but archived at Archive.org.
    • Wind speed and wind direction in imagery. You can learn more about ScatSat-1 in a Wikipedia article here, at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) or in a brochure here (PDF) from the ISRO.
    • Site Thumbnail
      CYGNSS imagery for October 10th, 2018, the day Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida
      Only wind speed is available in imagery. This is a NASA funded mission of "a constellation of eight small satellites carried to low-Earth orbit on a single launch vehicle to make accurate measurements of ocean surface winds in and near the eye of the storm throughout the lifecycle of tropical cyclones, typhoons and hurricanes." (quote from here) You can learn more about CYGNSS in a Wikipedia article here, at NASA or view links to publications and presentations on the product description page here on NOAA's OSWT site. For CYGNSS imagery the time is handled differently. The time is noted over the data along the pass itself. The color of the time represents which satellite the pass is from. Those colors are along the bottom of the image.
  • Scatterometer Wind Measurements from KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute)
    Site Thumbnail The Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut (English: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) is the Dutch national weather service. This site has Metop (ASCAT-A, ASCAT-B and ASCAT-C) and ScatSat-1 data which you can access in the right column. Data is in meters per second (m/s).

    In the right column under "Near real time Wind Products" they have a lot of products listed. OSI SAF (EUMETSAT Ocean and Sea Ice Satellite Application Facility) has global wind data. EARS (EUMETSAT Advanced Retransmission Service) has regional wind data. EARS has imagery across the Atlantic, including just south of the Equator, as well as most of the Pacific in the Northern Hemisphere, north of around 10N. "KNMI is responsible for the wind products in the context of the EUMETSAT Advanced Retransmission Service (EARS). KNMI deploys a regional-coverage ASCAT wind product with a targeted timeliness of 30 minutes from data acquisition. The winds are also displayed on the web in near-real time. The aim of EARS is to provide polar satellite data from the EUMETSAT MetOp and NOAA satellites with a timeliness suited to the needs of European operational short range regional numerical weather prediction models. The geographical coverage of EARS is primarily over data-sparse sea areas around Europe."

    Site Thumbnail
    Example of a full resolution EARS ASCAT-A Coastal ascending image
    Once you click an area you want to view, you can choose whether you want to see the wind displayed as flags, the default, or arrows by selecting that option in the top right corner. Coastal imagery data has data a little closer to coastlines. With that imagery there is also an option for some places, such as across the Atlantic where tropical cyclones occur, to view even more detailed imagery. You can click the "Show full resolution picture" option, when available, which allows you to see more wind flags, or arrows. You can also simply click the image to see that more detailed imagery, when available. "Note that in the detail pictures, the scatterometer winds are plotted on a cell spacing of 25 km, i.e. only a quarter of the wind vectors is plotted. In some regions however, also a full resolution picture showing all wind vectors is available by clicking on the detail picture."
    Site Thumbnail
    Screenshot from OSI SAF multi-platform product viewer
    While EARS imagery might be best to start with if you know the satellite you want to view data from, there is a viewer that combines the OSI SAF products into a single viewer where once you choose the area you want to view, you can easily toggle between the other OSI SAF products available at that location. Additionally, you can move in other directions by clicking "North", "West", "East" or "South". This viewer makes this the easiest way to navigate through their imagery.

    EARS (certain regions):

    OSI SAF (global):

    Other global OSI SAF data (operational):

    Other global OSI SAF data (in development as of updating this section of our page in August 2020):
    • HY-2B 25 km winds (with full resolution for some areas)
      "The HY-2B level 1B HDF products used for this product are made available by the Chinese National Satellite Ocean Application Service (NSOAS)." You can view information about HY-2B here at EUMETSAT.
    • CFOSAT 25 km winds (with full resolution for some areas)
      "The CFOSAT level 1B products used for this product are made available by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the Centre national d'études spatiales (CNES)." You can view information about CFOSAT here at the European Space Agency (ESA).
  • Site Thumbnail This interactive map allows you to view a wide variety of overlays, including surface wind. In the left column, under "Satellite", select "Winds". (You have to click the actual word "Winds", or the arrow, to show the options) You can choose "Ascending" or "Descending" passes for ASCAT METOP-A and ASCAT METOP-B. You can also add historical wind data as well, starting from 2016 for ASCAT.
  • Site Thumbnail Search for the imagery you want by region, product and sensor. Some of the surface wind imagery you can view is available below. When we tested their site, it appeared that an archive of nearly two year's worth of data was available for ASCAT (Metop), about one month for OSCAT-2 (ScatSat-1) and about six months worth of data for SSMI. The links below default to just the past day.
  • Tropical Cyclone Pages from U.S. Navy
    Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC)

    Site Thumbnail
    Windsat 6GHz vectors in Hurriane Dorian on September 1st, 2019 on NRL's site
    These two sites are very similar. They have a lot of useful content. Note: The second link is safe, but historically you have had to bypass a security warning to view it. Once you select an active storm in the left column, you can look for surface wind imagery available at the top of the page. Because the data is storm specific, you may often see that recent wind data is not available when the satellite sensing surface wind speeds does not pass over the storm. The layout on each site is different. The first link has some wind products in a table at the top of the page. The second link has them in a drop down menu. The most recent imagery will be noted by the color green, followed by yellow and then red, for the oldest.

    Site Thumbnail
    ASCAT MetOp-B 25km surface winds in T.D. Eleven on August 12th, 2020 on FNMOC's site
    The first site has a training site here. The second site had a tutorial here, but when we tried the link in August 2020 it wasn't working. However, the "General" info link was working and contained some additional information. You can click here to load that information onto their front page. You will also find additional satellite products from the first site here.
  • Site Thumbnail Ascending and descending data is available. Archived data is available since 2003.
A note about some of the sites above. Make sure you note the correct time the data was observed. Some times are simply when the image may have been created, such as the last time the system checked to see if info was available.
Note: On November 23rd, 2009 the QuikSCAT satellite stopped providing real time data due to an instrument failure. On August 19th, 2016 the ISS-RapidScat instrument onboard the International Space Station, which was an instrument quickly constructed to replace QuikSCAT, failed and its mission was later ended.

Inland Wind Model

  • Site Thumbnail
    Category 3 hurricane with forward motion of 16 knots making landfall along Gulf Coast
    This is an estimate of how far maximum sustained winds might come inland with a landfalling storm. While the research paper describes this model as showing "the maximum possible sustained wind speeds", every storm is different and higher wind speeds, especially in gusts, may be possible than those noted. (as well as in tornadoes) For a specific storm, consult the National Hurricane Center's advisories. You can read about the research paper that these images are based on here.

    "The model applies a simple two parameter decay equation to the hurricane wind field at landfall to estimate the maximum sustained surface wind as a storm moves inland. This model can be used for operational forecasting of the maximum winds of landfalling tropical cyclones. It can also be used to estimate the maximum inland penetration of hurricane force winds (or any wind threshold) for a given initial storm intensity and forward storm motion." (quote from NHC site)

    You can select from three U.S. regions: Gulf Coast, East Coast and Northeast Coast. You can then select one of the forward motion options for the category of storm you want. Those options for the Gulf Coast and East Coast are 8 knots (9 mph), 12 knots (14 mph), 16 knots (18 mph), 20 knots (23 mph) and 24 knots (28 mph). Those options for the Northeast Coast are 15 knots (17 mph), 25 knots (29 mph) and 35 knots (40 mph). There are color coded wind speeds, in knots, in the imagery that show the maximum sustained winds possible inland. The color coded wind speeds shown inland are in intervals of 15 knots and are 35 knots (40 mph), 50 knots (58 mph), 65 knots (75mph), 80 knots (92 mph), 95 knots (109 mph) and 110 knots (127 mph).
Page last modified on August 15, 2020