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An Analog Comparison between Rapidly and Slowly Intensifying Tropical Cyclones

Jannetta C. RichardsonaDepartment of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York

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Ryan D. TornaDepartment of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York

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Brian H. TangaDepartment of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York

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Abstract

To better understand the conditions that favor tropical cyclone (TC) rapid intensification (RI), this study assesses environmental and storm-scale characteristics that differentiate TCs that undergo RI from TCs that undergo slow intensification (SI). This comparison is performed between analog TC pairs that have similar initial intensity, vertical wind shear, and maximum potential intensity. Differences in the characteristics of RI and SI TCs in the North Atlantic and western North Pacific basins are evaluated by compositing and comparing data from the fifth-generation European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Re-Analysis (ERA5) and the Gridded Satellite (GridSat) dataset. In the period leading up to the start of RI, RI TCs tend to have a stronger and deeper vortex that is more vertically aligned than SI TCs. Additionally, surface latent heat fluxes are significantly larger in RI TCs prior to the intensity change period, compared to SI TCs. The largest surface latent heat flux differences are initially located to the left of shear; subsequently, upshear and right-of-shear differences amplify, resulting in a more symmetric distribution of surface latent heat fluxes in RI TCs. Increasing azimuthal symmetry of surface latent heat fluxes in RI TCs, together with an increasing azimuthal symmetry of horizontal moisture flux convergence, promote the upshear migration of convection in RI TCs. These differences, and their evolution before and during the intensity change period, are hypothesized to support the persistence and invigoration of upshear convection and, thus, a more symmetric latent heating pattern that favors RI.

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

Corresponding author: Jannetta Richardson, jcrichardson@albany.edu

Abstract

To better understand the conditions that favor tropical cyclone (TC) rapid intensification (RI), this study assesses environmental and storm-scale characteristics that differentiate TCs that undergo RI from TCs that undergo slow intensification (SI). This comparison is performed between analog TC pairs that have similar initial intensity, vertical wind shear, and maximum potential intensity. Differences in the characteristics of RI and SI TCs in the North Atlantic and western North Pacific basins are evaluated by compositing and comparing data from the fifth-generation European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Re-Analysis (ERA5) and the Gridded Satellite (GridSat) dataset. In the period leading up to the start of RI, RI TCs tend to have a stronger and deeper vortex that is more vertically aligned than SI TCs. Additionally, surface latent heat fluxes are significantly larger in RI TCs prior to the intensity change period, compared to SI TCs. The largest surface latent heat flux differences are initially located to the left of shear; subsequently, upshear and right-of-shear differences amplify, resulting in a more symmetric distribution of surface latent heat fluxes in RI TCs. Increasing azimuthal symmetry of surface latent heat fluxes in RI TCs, together with an increasing azimuthal symmetry of horizontal moisture flux convergence, promote the upshear migration of convection in RI TCs. These differences, and their evolution before and during the intensity change period, are hypothesized to support the persistence and invigoration of upshear convection and, thus, a more symmetric latent heating pattern that favors RI.

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

Corresponding author: Jannetta Richardson, jcrichardson@albany.edu
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