A Measure of 2009 Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Activity

There are many measures that one can use to assess how active the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season has been, such as number of named storms, hurricanes, major hurricanes, landfalls, accumulated cyclone energy index, etc.  One could also make a case for using the total number of operational aircraft missions into tropical cyclones for assessing, in part, how active the Atlantic basin has been in regard to tropical cyclones threatening land.

Year

Total Aircraft Missions

2004

146

2005

206

2006

54

2007

78

2008

169

2009 (as of Oct 7th)

33 (as of Oct 7th)

The total aircraft missions in the table above (courtesy of the National Hurricane Center) include all operational flights into tropical cyclones in the Atlantic.  These missions include both NOAA and U.S. Air Force operational reconnaissance flights as well as surveillance missions.  The reconnaissace flights (into the core of the tropical cyclone) and surveillance flights (into the environment around the tropical cyclone to determine steering currents) are usually scheduled anytime a tropical cyclone becomes a threat to land based on criteria defined by the National Hurricane Center.  The number of missions this year may well increase with any late season storms threatening land, but the statistics certainly indicate how inactive this year has been so far in regard to Atlantic tropical cyclones near land.

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