GOES-16 observations of rapidly-intensifying tropical cyclones: Hurricanes Harvey (2017), Maria (2017), and Michael (2018)

View More View Less
  • 1 Laboratory for Mesoscale Atmospheric Processes, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
  • 2 Universities Space Research Association, Columbia, Maryland
  • 3 Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
  • 4 Center for Advanced Data Assimilation and Predictability Techniques, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
© Get Permissions
Restricted access

Abstract

This study utilizes brightness temperatures (Tb’s) observed by the infrared longwave window band (Ch 14; 11.2 μm) from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-16 (GOES-16) to examine the structure of Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Michael throughout their lifetimes. During the times leading up to their rapid intensifications (RI), two-dimensional inner-core structures are examined to analyze the strength and location of the developing convection. Moderate vertical wind shear in the environments of Harvey and Michael induced a pronounced convective asymmetry prior to RI, followed by a rapid axisymmetrization that occurred essentially in conjunction with RI. The evolutions of the tropical cyclones’ (TCs’) coldest Tb’s indicate that the inner-core convective activity began to increase in the 12 h prior to RI onset, primarily in 2–4-h substantial “bursts”, while substantial convection dominated essentially the entirety of the region within 100 km of the surface center within 12 h of the onset of intensification.

Azimuthally averaged Tb evolutions illustrate the development of each TCs’ eye and eyewall, the variability of the radial extent of the central dense overcast associated with the diurnal cycle, as well as details of the evolving convective structures throughout intensification. Hövmoller diagrams of data at constant radii reveal areas of cold Tb’s propagating around the TCs on timescales of 2–3-h. The examination of these features in a deep-layer shear-relative sense reveals that they initiate primarily downshear of the TCs’ surface centers. As RI is reached, these areas of convection are able to propagate into the upshear quadrants, which helps facilitate the onset of more substantial intensification.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Erin B. Munsell, Laboratory for Mesoscale Atmospheric Processes, Code 612, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771. E-mail: erin.b.munsell@nasa.gov

Abstract

This study utilizes brightness temperatures (Tb’s) observed by the infrared longwave window band (Ch 14; 11.2 μm) from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-16 (GOES-16) to examine the structure of Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Michael throughout their lifetimes. During the times leading up to their rapid intensifications (RI), two-dimensional inner-core structures are examined to analyze the strength and location of the developing convection. Moderate vertical wind shear in the environments of Harvey and Michael induced a pronounced convective asymmetry prior to RI, followed by a rapid axisymmetrization that occurred essentially in conjunction with RI. The evolutions of the tropical cyclones’ (TCs’) coldest Tb’s indicate that the inner-core convective activity began to increase in the 12 h prior to RI onset, primarily in 2–4-h substantial “bursts”, while substantial convection dominated essentially the entirety of the region within 100 km of the surface center within 12 h of the onset of intensification.

Azimuthally averaged Tb evolutions illustrate the development of each TCs’ eye and eyewall, the variability of the radial extent of the central dense overcast associated with the diurnal cycle, as well as details of the evolving convective structures throughout intensification. Hövmoller diagrams of data at constant radii reveal areas of cold Tb’s propagating around the TCs on timescales of 2–3-h. The examination of these features in a deep-layer shear-relative sense reveals that they initiate primarily downshear of the TCs’ surface centers. As RI is reached, these areas of convection are able to propagate into the upshear quadrants, which helps facilitate the onset of more substantial intensification.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Erin B. Munsell, Laboratory for Mesoscale Atmospheric Processes, Code 612, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771. E-mail: erin.b.munsell@nasa.gov
Save