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The Warm-Core Structure of Hurricane Earl (2010)

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  • 1 University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Monterey, California
  • | 2 Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
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Abstract

The warm-core structure of Hurricane Earl (2010) is examined on four different days, spanning periods of both rapid intensification (RI) and weakening, using high-altitude dropsondes from both the inner core and the environment, as well as a convection-permitting numerical forecast. During RI, strong warming occurred at all heights, while during rapid weakening, little temperature change was observed, implying the likelihood of substantial (unobserved) cooling above flight level (12 km). Using a local environmental reference state yields a perturbation temperature profile with two distinct maxima of approximately equal magnitude: one at 4–6-km and the other at 9–12-km height. However, using a climatological-mean sounding instead results in the upper-level maximum being substantially stronger than the midlevel maximum. This difference results from the fact that the local environment of Earl was warmer than the climatological mean and that this relative warmth increased with height. There is no obvious systematic relationship between the height of the warm core and either intensity or intensity change for either reference state.

The structure of the warm core simulated by the convection-permitting forecast compares well with the observations for the periods encompassing RI. Later, an eyewall replacement cycle went unforecast, and increased errors in the warm-core structure are likely related to errors in the forecast wind structure. At most times, the simulated radius of maximum winds (RMW) had too great of an outward slope (the upper-level RMW was too large), and this is likely also associated with structural biases in the warm core.

Corresponding author address: Daniel P. Stern, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, 7 Grace Hopper Ave., Monterey, CA 93943. E-mail: dstern@ucar.edu

Abstract

The warm-core structure of Hurricane Earl (2010) is examined on four different days, spanning periods of both rapid intensification (RI) and weakening, using high-altitude dropsondes from both the inner core and the environment, as well as a convection-permitting numerical forecast. During RI, strong warming occurred at all heights, while during rapid weakening, little temperature change was observed, implying the likelihood of substantial (unobserved) cooling above flight level (12 km). Using a local environmental reference state yields a perturbation temperature profile with two distinct maxima of approximately equal magnitude: one at 4–6-km and the other at 9–12-km height. However, using a climatological-mean sounding instead results in the upper-level maximum being substantially stronger than the midlevel maximum. This difference results from the fact that the local environment of Earl was warmer than the climatological mean and that this relative warmth increased with height. There is no obvious systematic relationship between the height of the warm core and either intensity or intensity change for either reference state.

The structure of the warm core simulated by the convection-permitting forecast compares well with the observations for the periods encompassing RI. Later, an eyewall replacement cycle went unforecast, and increased errors in the warm-core structure are likely related to errors in the forecast wind structure. At most times, the simulated radius of maximum winds (RMW) had too great of an outward slope (the upper-level RMW was too large), and this is likely also associated with structural biases in the warm core.

Corresponding author address: Daniel P. Stern, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, 7 Grace Hopper Ave., Monterey, CA 93943. E-mail: dstern@ucar.edu
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