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  • Eye to Eye with Hurricane Alex

    The first named storm of the season was Alex, which reached tropical storm status on August 1st. It became the first storm on record to develop north of 38N latitude in the Atlantic (where the water is usually too cool). Alex raked past past Cape Hattaras where it caused massive power outtages and some flooding on the barrier islands. We flew a total of nine missions on this storm before it moved back out into the mid-Altantic. Click on the photo at right for a larger version.

    the eye on radar When you fly a storm at night, you don't often see much, except the reflection of your aircraft lights off the clouds, lightning, and the view on radar. This photo shows the eye of Alex on the radar. The mass of green on the right side of the picture is the heavy rain we are crossing on our way to the eye, which shows as a thin crescent. The southern half of the eyewall is not "painting" on the radar, because the heavy rain obscures our view of it, what radar operators know as "attenuation".
    Hurricane Alex brushed the Carolinas at the beginning of August. Here are a few more photos of the radar on one night mission into the storm. This one shows the donut-shaped eyewall on the far right side of the picture, as we approach the eye from the northwest.

    The pair of photos below show some heavy weather enroute to the eye; the first photo is a standard radar view, while the second one is of the same feature, except with the "isoecho" turned on. This shows the strongest returns (heaviest rain) as a black hole. Tighten your seatbelt, it probably means a rough ride in those areas.

    eyewall from NW
    cells isoecho

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