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Media Advisory 06-018

Scientists Discuss Early Results of RAINEX Hurricane Intensity Project

Flights into storms' eyewalls and rainbands help to better forecast hurricane intensity

Atmospheric scientists flew into Hurricane Katrina's eyewall and rainbands in project RAINEX.

Atmospheric scientists flew into Hurricane Katrina's eyewall and rainbands in project RAINEX.

June 22, 2006

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Scientists flew into the eyes of Hurricanes Katrina, Ophelia and Rita last summer, as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project called RAINEX, the Rainband and Intensity Change Experiment. 

Scientists Robert Houze of the University of Washington and Shuyi Chen of the University of Miami will discuss early results from RAINEX, including findings that concentrated pockets of fast-rotating air within a hurricane's eyewall and rainbands feed the storm and strengthen its winds.

Their measurements of a hurricane's eyewall and outer rainbands have led to new insights on improving high-resolution modeling of hurricanes, and making better forecasts of how quickly a hurricane's intensity may change. 

RAINEX used three Doppler radar-equipped aircraft, aided by high-resolution numerical modeling.  The experiment was the first time aircraft flights into a hurricane were directed from crews on the ground in real time.

The storms investigated were in all stages of development, from tropical depression to a category 5 hurricane.  Observations of Hurricane Ophelia provided a first-ever look at what scientists call the "convective burst phenomenon" that marks the initial stages of a hurricane's formation.  The researchers flew into Hurricane Rita during what's known as an eyewall replacement cycle, which is key to understanding the interaction of eyewalls and rainbands and the relationship of those interactions to rapid storm intensity changes.


Atmospheric scientists Robert Houze and Shuyi Chen


Lecture:  Aircraft Observations and Modeling of Hurricanes Katrina, Ophelia and Rita


Room 110
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA  22230


Wednesday, June 28, 2006
9:30 - 10:30 a.m.


Media Contacts
Cheryl Dybas, NSF, (703) 292-7734, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $8.8 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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