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8455 Colesville Road, Suite 1500
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910




Washington, DC
January 1997


In Public Law 102-567, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Authorization Act of 1992, Section 107, Congress mandated that the Department of Defense and the Department of Commerce establish a joint hurricane reconnaissance program "for collecting operational and reconnaissance data, conducting research, and analyzing data on tropical cyclones to assist the forecast and warning program and increase the understanding of the causes and behavior of tropical cyclones." The initial 5-year plan was sent to Congress in January 1994.

While "the Act" gives the Department of Defense (DOD) the responsibility for maintaining, flying, and funding tropical cyclone reconnaissance aircraft and the Department of Commerce (DOC) the responsibility for data gathering and research, the responsibilities within the federal meteorological community are actually shared. The DOC, through NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center (AOC), operates two heavily instrumented WP-3Ds, which backup and complement the fleet of ten WC-130 aircraft that are operated by the Air Force Reserve's 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron--the Hurricane Hunters. In October 1996, NOAA AOC began the initial flights of its new Gulfstream IV-SP; this next-generation research and reconnaissance aircraft will be operational during the 1997 hurricane season. In the DOD, the U.S. Navy has an active tropical cyclone research program which effectively complements NOAA' s research efforts.

The joint hurricane reconnaissance program described above is actually a longstanding program, facilitated under the auspices of the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research (OFCM). The purely operational aspects of the program are published annually in the National Hurricane Operations Plan (NHOP); the 34th edition of the NHOP was published in May 1996.

The National Plan for Tropical Cyclone Research and Reconnaissance (1997-2002), the third in a series dating back to December 1990, details a program for tropical cyclone/hurricane research and reconnaissance that provides for an improving level of service to adequately protect the citizens of the coastal areas of the United States. The objectives, outlined in Chapter 4, are designed to focus the cooperative efforts among the various research groups, both within and outside of government, and to provide for long-term improvements in tropical cyclone forecasting and warning services. Progress on these objectives will be reviewed at the annual Interdepartmental Hurricane Conferences, hosted by the OFCM, as well as in updates to this plan.

The OFCM gratefully acknowledges the team of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) scientists--Harry Nicholson, Charles Neumann, and Charles "Chip" Guard--for their valuable contributions to this document.

Julian M. Wright, Jr.
Federal Coordinator for Meteorological
   Services and Supporting Research


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