Flying Over Hurricanes For New NASA Mission



NASA is investigating key questions about hurricanes from the skies.

This August, an unmanned aircraft is flying over East Pacific hurricanes.

The new East Pacific Origins and Characteristics of Hurricanes, or EPOCH, mission will fly over developing tropical storms to investigate how they progress and intensify.

Three instruments aboard the Global Hawk aircraft will map out 3-D patterns of temperature, pressure, humidity, precipitation, and wind speed.

These measurements will help scientists better understand the processes that control storm intensity in cyclones around the world.

Scientists also use models and other observations to investigate hurricane behavior.

Satellites such as NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement Mission, or GPM, and computer models can analyze key stages of storm intensification.

In September 2016, GPM captured Hurricane Matthew’s development from a Category 1 to Category 5 hurricane in 24 hours.

Extreme rainfall was seen in several stages of the storm, causing significant flooding and landslides as Matthew passed Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

Winds within the simulated storm reached 160 mph.

GPM also observed the storm as the inner eyewall was replaced by a larger eyewall, causing Matthew to decrease in intensity before grazing the Eastern Florida Coast.

Significant flooding was seen when Matthew made landfall in South Carolina.

Combining model and observed data allows scientists to analyze storms like never before and better understand how hurricanes and other powerful storms can potentially impact society.