The assimilation of satellite all-sky infrared (IR) brightness temperatures (BTs) has been shown in previous studies to improve intensity forecasts of tropical cyclones. In this study, we examine whether assimilating all-sky IR BTs can also potentially improve tropical cyclogenesis forecasts by improving the pregenesis cloud and moisture fields. By using an ensemble-based data assimilation system, we show that the assimilation of upper-tropospheric water vapor channel BTs observed by the Meteosat-10 SEVIRI instrument two days before the formation of a tropical depression improves the genesis forecast of Hurricane Irma (2017), a classic Cape Verde storm, by up to 24 h while also capturing its later rapid intensification in deterministic forecasts. In an experiment that withholds the assimilation of all-sky IR BTs, the assimilation of conventional observations from the Global Telecommunications System (GTS) leads to the premature genesis of Hurricane Irma by at least 24 h. This premature genesis is shown to result from an overestimation of the spatial coverage of deep convection within the African easterly wave (AEW) from which Irma eventually forms. The gross overestimation of deep convection without all-sky IR BTs is accompanied by higher column saturation fraction, stronger low-level convergence, and the earlier spinup of a low-level meso-β-scale vortex within the AEW that ultimately becomes Hurricane Irma. Through its adjustment to the initial moisture and cloud conditions, the assimilation of all-sky IR BTs leads to a more realistic convective evolution in forecasts and ultimately a more realistic timing of genesis.
Every year hurricanes impact the lives of thousands of people living along the eastern coast of the United States. Many of these storms originate from tropical disturbances that exit the west coast of Africa. To give the public more warning time ahead of these storms, it is important to improve the forecasts of their formation. This study uses a system developed at The Pennsylvania State University to incorporate satellite observations into forecasts of a classic Cape Verde storm, Hurricane Irma (2017), two days before it formed. By using satellite-collected radiances, we improve the timing of its formation by up to 24 h due to a better representation of the mesoscale tropical disturbance from which it originated.
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