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Convection and Moisture Experiment (CAMEX) Status
Tuesday, September 22, 1998
Armed with sophisticated instruments that will allow weather researchers to put a "microscope" on hurricanes, NASA's DC-8 and ER-2 aircraft are scheduled to leave Patrick Tuesday around 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday and head into the storm.
After passing over the Antigua and Montserrat islands overnight, Monday, Georges weakened from a Category 3 to a Category 2 hurricane.
"The weakening may have been due to the inflow of drier middle-upper level air to the west," said the mission scientist, Robby Hood of the Global Hydrology and Climate Center at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
"Another possible reason for the weakening appears in the satellite imagery," said Hood. "In the imagery, we see the center point of the layer of cirrus clouds -- high-altitude thin and wispy clouds composed of ice crystals -- to the east of the circulation center, suggesting westerly shear or the frequent change in wind speed within a short distance."
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami and Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla., predict that Georges will move over Puerto Rico and along the northern shores of the Dominican Republic at about 16 mph.
The storm is expected to contract and intensify, with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph.
On Monday, Sept. 21, instruments aboard the DC-8 and ER-2 examined Georges' eyewall. The aircraft flew into the storm at 33,000 feet, and the research team says the storm showed many unique characteristics, including large turrets, changing eyewall winds and wind speeds up to 92 mph.
"The eyewall pattern also was significantly displaced from the eyewall location on the radar screen, unlike those seen with Hurricanes Bonnie, Danielle and Earl," said Hood.
The hurricane study unites eight NASA centers, other government weather researchers and the university community.
Results from the hurricane study -- ending Wednesday, Sept. 23 -- may increase hurricane warning time and decrease the size of evacuation areas.