Using a fleet of NASA and other satellites as well as aircraft and other observations, scientists were able to unlock the secret of Hurricane Lili’s unexpected, rapid weakening as she churned toward a Louisiana landfall in 2002. The data from multiple satellites enabled researchers to see dry air move into the storm’s low levels, partially explaining why Lili weakened rapidly.
Hurricane Lili was a Category 1 hurricane, and was centered over Louisiana on Oct. 3, 2002. This image was taken by the Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument, aboard NASAs Terra satellite. At this time, Lili had sustained winds of 92 mph near the center. On October 4, Lili was absorbed by an extratropical low while moving northeastward near the Tennessee/Arkansas border. Click image to enlarge. Credit NASA/GSFC/ MODIS Rapid Response
This study focuses on the rapid weakening of Hurricane Lili over the Gulf of Mexico beginning early on Oct. 3, 2002. During this time span, Hurricane Lili rapidly weakened from a category 4 to a category 1 storm, with its maximum sustained winds decreasing by 45 knots (51.8 mph) in the 13-hour period, until she made landfall in Louisiana. Operational computer models failed to predict this rapid weakening, which is not well-understood.
The study is being presented at the 86th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Atlanta, Ga., during the week of Jan. 30. It was conducted by researchers from Mississippi State University (MSU), Mississippi State, Miss., and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, Colo.
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