TC-OBS Database | About the TC-OBS Database

About the Tropical Cyclone Observations-Based Structure (TC-OBS) Database

The final phase of this RPI-funded project used the VDM+ and FLIGHT+ Datasets to build a new historical database of tropical cyclone track, intensity, size, and structure parameters that have significantly higher temporal and spatial resolution than the current HURDAT2/Best Track dataset. The goal is not to replace HURDAT2, but rather to provide an objective, observations-based database of tropical cyclone parameters that is best-suited for wind risk applications.

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Use the links below to learn more about the attributes of the database, to get documentation on the database structure and parameters, to download the database, to see validation plots comparing the new TC-OBS data parameters to reference Best Track parameters, and to find references.

Attributes of the new historical database

The TC-OBS Database includes the following attributes:

  • Revised/refined observations-based estimates of track (position)
  • Revised/refined observations-based estimates of intensity
  • Revised/refined observations-based estimates for radius of maximum wind (RMW)
  • Revised/refined observations-based estimates of size (wind radii)
  • Time-dependent observations-based uncertainty bounds for track (position)
  • Time-dependent observations-based uncertainty bounds for intensity
  • Time-dependent observations-based uncertainty bounds for RMW
  • Time-dependent observations-based uncertainty bounds for size (wind radii) in each quadrant of the cyclone
  • Azimuthal mean wind speed (an alternative to the traditional intensity metric)
  • Spatial and temporal coherence of the location of maximum wind
  • All data provided at 1-hour temporal frequency (compared with 6-hourly for HURDAT2)
  • All asynoptic time points included in HURDAT2 are also included (including all landfall times)
  • Track data given at higher precision than the 0.1 deg used in HURDAT2
  • Ancillary parameters that indicate distance to land, translation speed/direction, and whether the cyclone was over land
  • Various cyclone-level metadata
  • Validation plots for all cyclones in the database for each of the primary data parameters

Notably, the TC-OBS Database includes wind radii for not only the 34-kt, 50-kt, and 64-kt wind speed tresholds included in HURDAT2, but also for the wind speed tresholds marking the boundaries between all of the Saffir-Simpson hurricane categories:

  • 83-kt (Cat1/2)
  • 96-kt (Cat 2/3)
  • 113-kt (Cat 3/4)
  • 137-kt (Cat 4/5)

For sake of reference, the full complement of the HURDAT2/Best Track database parameters are also included in the TC-OBS Database. Nearly all of the additional non-"Best Track" parameters found in the Automated Tropical Cyclone Forecast (ATCF) system b-decks. Where the b-decks are missing values in the early period, values have been filled in from the Extended Best Track dataset.


This page was last updated 21 January 2016 by Jonathan Vigh