Hurricane Drifters Deployed Ahead of Epsilon
On October 22, 2020 a C-130J of the US Air Force Reserve 53rd squadron “Hurricane Hunters” deployed 12 drifters ahead of Hurricane Epsilon northeast of Bermuda. The drifters, designed and built at Scripps’ Lagrangian Drifter Lab and funded by the Global Ocean Monitoring and Observing Program, are measuring directional wave spectra, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, sea temperatures from the surface to 150 meters depth, and near-surface ocean currents. All 12 drifters transmitted data that were placed used by National Hurricane Center forecasters. The data are being analyzed as a case study of a hurricane transitioning to extratropical status, with an unusually large gale-force wind field.
This deployment was coordinated by Rick Lumpkin (NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory), in partnership with Luca Centurioni (Scripps’ Lagrangian Drifter Laboratory), the Chief, Aerial Reconnaissance Coordination, All Hurricanes (CARCAH, National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center), and colleagues in AOML’s Hurricane Research Division, NWS’ Environmental Modeling Center, and elsewhere.
Figure 1. The projected track of Epsilon. The yellow icons indicate directional wave spectrum drifters; targeted deployments for this storm as well as previous storms have seeded the entire path with wave, SST, and SLP measuring drifters.
Figure 2. The significant wave height on the coastward side of Epsilon has two distinct peaks. GDP researchers are working together with the NWS forecasting staff to understand how well this is represented in the models.