UMNEWS – Hurricane research has early successes

The Rainband and Intensity Change Experiment (RAINEX) began its research this weekend with Hurricane Katrina and became the first hurricane research project to fly planes nearly simultaneously inside and outside the hurricane’s principal rainband, gathering information that will help understand hurricane intensity change significantly.

RAINEX is studying the interaction between hurricane winds and rain, using data recorded from hurricane research flights.

For six weeks of this year’s hurricane season, two NOAA P3 aircraft, along with a U.S. Navy P3 aircraft, will fly simultaneously into hurricanes before making landfall. The aircraft use Doppler radar to record wind speed and direction, temperature, atmospheric pressure and other data.

RAINEX features expertise from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, the University of Washington, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Navy. The National Science Foundation (NSF) provided $3 million to shed light on how and why a storm changes in strength in a matter of hours.