The advent of the Internet has spawned a whole new generation of Web-based applications allowing dynamic interactions with databases. Rapid maturity of Web programming techniques have provided enterprise-level functionality, reliability, and scalability in business and scientific applications. Benefits of a web-based approach include ease of maintenance and development, and centralized distribution of data services. These new technologies are part of Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE), which offers a powerful platform on which to build Web-based component applications.
Since 1996 the Hurricane Research Division has participated in the H*Wind Project. The purpose is to develop an integrated tropical cyclone observing system in which wind measurements from a variety of observation platforms could be used to develop an objective analysis of the distribution of wind speeds in a hurricane.
The HRD approach to hurricane wind analysis evolved from a series of peer-reviewed, scientific publications analyzing landfalls of major hurricanes including Frederic of 1979, Alicia of 1983, Hugo of 1989, and Andrew of 1992 (Powell et al., 1991, Powell and Houston, 1996, 1998, Powell et al., 1998). In our paper describing Hurricane Hugo's landfall, we developed the concept of a system for conducting real-time analysis of hurricane wind fields. We were in the process of constructing this system when Hurricane Andrew struck. The system was first used in real-time during Hurricane Emily in 1993 (Burpee et al., 1994). Since 1994, HRD wind analyses have been conducted on a research basis to create real-time hurricane wind field guidance for forecasters at the National Hurricane Center. During Hurricane landfall episodes, HRD scientists work side by side hurricane specialists at NHC analyzing wind observations on a regular 3 or 6 hour schedule consistent with NHC's warning and forecast cycle.
An HRD wind analysis requires the input of all available surface weather observations (e.g., ships, buoys, coastal platforms, surface aviation reports, reconnaissance aircraft data adjusted to the surface, etc.). Observational data are downloaded on a regular schedule and then processed to fit the analysis framework. This includes the data sent by NOAA P3 and G4 research aircraft during the HRD hurricane field program, including the Step Frequency Microwave Radiometer measurements of surface winds, as well as U.S. Air Force Reserves (AFRES) C-130 reconnaissance aircraft, remotely sensed winds from the polar orbiting SSM/I and ERS, the QuikScat platform and TRMM microwave imager satellites, and GOES cloud drift winds derive from tracking low level near-infrared cloud imagery from these geostationary satellites. These data are composited relative to the storm over a 4-6 hour period. All data are quality controlled and processed to conform to a common framework for height (10 m or 33 feet), exposure (marine or open terrain over land), and averaging period (maximum sustained 1 minute wind speed) using accepted methods from micrometeorology and wind engineering (Powell et al., 1996, Powell and Houston, 1996). This framework is consistent with that used by the National Hurricane Center (NHC), and is readily converted to wind load frameworks used in building codes.