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Asymmetric Hurricane Boundary Layer Structure during Storm Decay. Part II: Secondary Eyewall Formation

Kyle AhernaDepartment of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

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Robert E. HartaDepartment of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

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Mark A. BourassaaDepartment of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
bCenter for Ocean–Atmospheric Prediction Studies, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

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Abstract

Three-dimensional hurricane boundary layer (BL) structure is investigated during secondary eyewall formation, as portrayed in a high-resolution, full-physics simulation of Hurricane Earl (2010). This is the second part of a study on the evolution of BL structure during vortex decay. As in part 1 of this work, the BL’s azimuthal structure was linked to vertical wind shear and storm motion. Measures of shear magnitude and translational speed in Earl were comparable to Hurricane Irma (2017) in part 1, but the orientation of one vector relative to the other differed, which contributed to different structural evolutions between the two cases. Shear and storm motion influence the shape of low-level radial flow, which in turn influences patterns of spinup and spindown associated with the advection of absolute angular momentum M. Positive agradient forcing associated with the import of M in the inner core elicits dynamically restorative outflow near the BL top, which in this case was asymmetric and intense at times prior to eyewall replacement. These asymmetries associated with shear and storm motion provide an explanation for BL convergence and spinup at the BL top outside the radius of maximum wind (RMW), which affects inertial stability and agradient forcing outside the RMW in a feedback loop. The feedback process may have facilitated the development of a secondary wind maximum over approximately two days, which culminated in eyewall replacement.

Significance Statement

In this second part of a two-part study, a simulation of Hurricane Earl in 2010 is used to analyze the cylindrical structure of the lowest 2.5 km of the atmosphere, which include the boundary layer. Structure at times when Earl weakened prior to and during a secondary eyewall formation is of primary concern. During the secondary eyewall formation, wind and thermal fields had substantial azimuthal structure, which was linked to the state of the environment. It is found that the azimuthal structure could be important to how the secondary eyewall formed in this simulation. A discussion and motivation for further investigating the lower-atmospheric azimuthal structure of hurricanes in the context of storm intensity is provided.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Ahern’s current affiliation: NOAA/AOML/Hurricane Research Division, and University of Miami Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, Miami, Florida.

Corresponding author: Kyle Ahern, kyle.ahern@noaa.gov

Abstract

Three-dimensional hurricane boundary layer (BL) structure is investigated during secondary eyewall formation, as portrayed in a high-resolution, full-physics simulation of Hurricane Earl (2010). This is the second part of a study on the evolution of BL structure during vortex decay. As in part 1 of this work, the BL’s azimuthal structure was linked to vertical wind shear and storm motion. Measures of shear magnitude and translational speed in Earl were comparable to Hurricane Irma (2017) in part 1, but the orientation of one vector relative to the other differed, which contributed to different structural evolutions between the two cases. Shear and storm motion influence the shape of low-level radial flow, which in turn influences patterns of spinup and spindown associated with the advection of absolute angular momentum M. Positive agradient forcing associated with the import of M in the inner core elicits dynamically restorative outflow near the BL top, which in this case was asymmetric and intense at times prior to eyewall replacement. These asymmetries associated with shear and storm motion provide an explanation for BL convergence and spinup at the BL top outside the radius of maximum wind (RMW), which affects inertial stability and agradient forcing outside the RMW in a feedback loop. The feedback process may have facilitated the development of a secondary wind maximum over approximately two days, which culminated in eyewall replacement.

Significance Statement

In this second part of a two-part study, a simulation of Hurricane Earl in 2010 is used to analyze the cylindrical structure of the lowest 2.5 km of the atmosphere, which include the boundary layer. Structure at times when Earl weakened prior to and during a secondary eyewall formation is of primary concern. During the secondary eyewall formation, wind and thermal fields had substantial azimuthal structure, which was linked to the state of the environment. It is found that the azimuthal structure could be important to how the secondary eyewall formed in this simulation. A discussion and motivation for further investigating the lower-atmospheric azimuthal structure of hurricanes in the context of storm intensity is provided.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Ahern’s current affiliation: NOAA/AOML/Hurricane Research Division, and University of Miami Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, Miami, Florida.

Corresponding author: Kyle Ahern, kyle.ahern@noaa.gov
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