ESRL Global Systems Division

FSL Data Supports NOAA Weather Forecasting and Hurricane Research

As Hurricane Katrina passed directly over Miami on Aug 26, FSL produced continuous water vapor measurements from the GPS receiver and surface sensors located at the U.S. Coast Guard Differential GPS site on Virginia Key. Data were collected through the eyewall and into the eye of this CAT I hurricane that later intensified to a CAT 4 hurricane when it hit the Gulf Coast east of New Orleans. The National Weather Service Forecast Office at Miami launched its 12 Z radiosonde just as the eye was passing over.

FSL also collected data from the English Turn DGPS site operated by the U.S. Coast Guard as Katrina approached, then turned away, from New Orleans on August 29. Just before communications with the GPS site was lost, it measured the lowest pressure (944.4 hPa) and highest water vapor content associated with a land-falling hurricane (81.7 mm or 3.22 inches of precipitable water vapor) thus far observed by the GPS-Met project. There is no telling what conditions were like in or near the eye, which was most likely observed by our GPS-Met system at the National Data Buoy Center facility at NASA Stennis Space Flight Center, Mississippi. We currently have no information about the condition of this facility or our equipment at NDBC.

More information on GPS meteorology within NOAA is available at

Contact information
Name: Seth Gutman
Tel: 303-497-7031