AN APPROACH TO THE ANALYSIS OF SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE DATA FOR UTILIZATION IN HURRICANE FORECASTING IN THE GULF OF MEXICO.
TEXAS A AND M UNIV COLLEGE STATION DEPT OF OCEANOGRAPHY
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Sea surface temperature SST patterns have been analyzed for four major hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico in an effort to determine if routinely available SST data might be more fully utilized as an aid to the hurricane forecaster. SST data reported by merchant vessels are the primary data used in this study. Mean daily SST charts were prepared for approximately ten to twelve days prior to the time when each hurricane moved inland. Also, a series of 3-day, 5-day, and 7-day mean SST charts were prepared for Hurricane Hilda. The SST charts for Hurricanes Audrey, Carla, and Hilda were plotted and analyzed with the point of hurricane landfall known. In an attempt to stimulate realistic conditions and to insure an objective analysis, a series of daily mean SST charts for Hurricane Betsy were plotted while the storm was in progress. The conservative nature of ocean temperature is discussed, and it is stressed that a great amount of energy is required to make a significant change. It is pointed out that the SST data used are taken at varying depths in the first few meters below the surface, and that the values obtained are not necessarily the same as surface temperatures measured by radiation devices. It is suggested that even though there are obvious limitations to available SST data, it is possible that the data might be more fully utilized as an aid to the hurricane forecaster. Author