VDM+: The Enhanced Vortex Message Dataset: Structure, Intensity, and Environmental Parameters from Tropical Cyclones (Version 1.100)

A Vortex Data Message (VDM) is a succinct summary of crucial vortex parameters sampled by aircraft as it flies through a tropical cyclone (TC). The Enhanced Vortex Data Message Dataset (VDM+) includes intensity, thermodynamic, and structure parameters derived from 6448 VDMs transmitted by aircraft from 298 TCs in the Atlantic, Eastern Pacific, and Central Pacific basins during the period 1989-2015. VDMs include several parameters that are difficult to characterize from other data sources, such as the location and velocity of the maximum flight level winds, the location and velocity of the maximum surface winds measured by the Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR) instrument, the diameter and character of the eye (if present), the coverage of the eyewall (open, closed, partial), the minimum central pressure, and the maximum flight level temperatures in the eyewall and eye. VDMs also contain information about many other structural aspects in the free-form remarks. The VDM+ Dataset aggregates nearly all of the data contained in the VDMs along with the full set of Best Track parameters contained in the Hurricane Dataset (HURDAT2). It supplements the Best Track parameters with the non-best-tracked radius of maximum wind (RMW) parameter from the Extended Best Track and Automated Tropical Cyclone Forecast System (ATCF) b-decks. Finally, for the TCs in the covered period, the VDM+ Dataset includes the full set of environmental and model-based diagnostic parameters, and remote sensing-based parameters of the Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction Scheme (SHIPS) Development Dataset. By making all of these data easily accessible in one structured NetCDF dataset (~592 MB), VDM+ offers the research community a wealth of data useful for research on wind risk applications, the TC life cycle, and the challenging problems of rapid intensification and structure change.

To Access Resource:

Questions? Email Resource Support Contact:

  • Tropical Cyclone Data Project
    UCAR/NCAR - Research Applications Laboratory

Temporal Range

  • Begin:  1989-07-12T19:30:00
    End:  2015-10-23T20:32:00


Resource Type dataset
Temporal Range Begin 1989-07-12T19:30:00
Temporal Range End 2015-10-23T20:32:00
Temporal Resolution N/A
Bounding Box North Lat 44.4167
Bounding Box South Lat 9.9333
Bounding Box West Long -168.95
Bounding Box East Long -44.25
Spatial Representation N/A
Spatial Resolution N/A
Related Links

Documentation for the VDM+ Dataset : An NCAR Technical Note which provides full documentation on about the structure and parameters of the VDM+ Dataset.

Vigh et al 2012 paper and supplement : A key scientific reference for the VDM+ Dataset, describing the history of aircraft observations and instrumentation.

HURDAT2 Database : A source dataset whose “best track” parameters are fully included in the VDM+ Dataset for TCs in the period 1989-2015. HURDAT2 is maintained by the National Hurricane Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory Hurricane Research Division (NOAA/AOML/HRD).

Extended Best Track Dataset : A source dataset included in the VDM+ Dataset which provides a parameter for the radius of maximum winds. This dataset is maintained by NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS).

SHIPS Development Dataset : A source dataset whose parameters are fully included in the VDM+ Dataset for TCs for the period 1989-2015.

Additional Information

VDM+ was built using the NCAR Command Language (NCL), a powerful and free data & visualization language similar to Matlab or IDL:

The NCAR Command Language (Version 6.2.1) [Software]. (2014). Boulder, Colorado: UCAR/NCAR/CISL/TDD. http://dx.doi.org/10.5065/D6WD3XH5.

An example code set (written in NCL) is provided on the dataset download page to aid users in reading the dataset products. The example code contains a module that reads all 355 dataset parameters into memory, including the VDM, SHIPS, and HURDAT2 parameters. Then the code illustrates how to do several simple analysis tasks, such as printing out a subset of VDM parameters for a given storm or finding the overall maximum wind speed across all storms in the dataset. Users may adapt this code to undertake new analysis tasks or to translate the data into a different format.

Resource Format N/A
Standardized Resource Format N/A
Asset Size 593 MB
Legal Constraints

Use of these data is subject to a data user agreement and license. Copyright 2015 University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Research Applications Laboratory, Joint Numerical Testbed. (See http://verif.rap.ucar.edu/tcdata/vortex/dataset/data_user_agreement_and_license.php)

Access Constraints A short user registration is required, mainly for the purpose having a way to contact dataset users if bugs are found or new versions are released, and also for tracking user metrics. Dataset access is currently subject to U.S. Export Control regulations.
Software Implementation Language NCAR Command Language (NCL)

Resource Support Name Tropical Cyclone Data Project
Resource Support Email ral-tcgp@ucar.edu
Resource Support Organization UCAR/NCAR - Research Applications Laboratory
Distributor N/A
Metadata Contact Name Tropical Cyclone Guidance Project
Metadata Contact Email ral-tcgp@ucar.edu
Metadata Contact Organization UCAR/NCAR - Research Applications Laboratory

Author Vigh, J. L.
Publisher UCAR/NCAR - Research Applications Laboratory - Tropical Cyclone Data Project, Boulder, Colorado
Publication Date 2015-01-01
Digital Object Identifier (DOI) https://doi.org/10.5065/D61Z42GH
Alternate Identifier VDM+ Dataset
Resource Version N/A
Topic Category climatologyMeteorologyAtmosphere
Progress completed
Metadata Date 2018-10-08T18:34:25
Metadata Record Identifier 10.5065/D61Z42GH
Metadata Language eng
Suggested Citation Vigh, J. L.. (2015). VDM+: The Enhanced Vortex Message Dataset: Structure, Intensity, and Environmental Parameters from Tropical Cyclones (Version 1.100). UCAR/NCAR - Research Applications Laboratory - Tropical Cyclone Data Project, Boulder, Colorado. https://doi.org/10.5065/D61Z42GH. Accessed 03 June 2023.

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