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A Tropical Cyclone Genesis Parameter for the Tropical Atlantic

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  • 1 NESDIS/ORA, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • | 2 Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
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Abstract

A parameter to evaluate the potential for tropical cyclone formation (genesis) in the North Atlantic between Africa and the Caribbean islands is developed. Climatologically, this region is the source of about 40% of the Atlantic basin tropical cyclones but roughly 60% of the major hurricanes. The genesis parameter is the product of appropriately scaled 5-day running mean vertical shear, vertical instability, and midlevel moisture variables. The instability and shear variables are calculated from operational NCEP analyses, and the midlevel moisture variable is determined from cloud-cleared GOES water vapor imagery. The average shear and instability variables from 1991 to 1999 and moisture variable from 1995 to 1999 indicate that tropical cyclone formation in the early part of the season is limited by the vertical instability and midlevel moisture. Formation at the end of the season is limited by the vertical shear. On average, there is only a short period from mid-July to mid-October when all three variables are favorable for development. This observation helps explains why tropical cyclone formation in the tropical Atlantic has such a peaked distribution in time. The parameter also helps explain intra- and interseasonal variability in tropical cyclone formation. An independent evaluation of the parameter and possible applications to operational forecasting are presented using data from the 2000 hurricane season. The possibility of determining additional thermodynamic information from the GOES sounder is also discussed.

Corresponding author address: Mark DeMaria, NOAA/NESDIS/ORA, Colorado State University, West Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

Email: demaria@cira.colostate.edu

Abstract

A parameter to evaluate the potential for tropical cyclone formation (genesis) in the North Atlantic between Africa and the Caribbean islands is developed. Climatologically, this region is the source of about 40% of the Atlantic basin tropical cyclones but roughly 60% of the major hurricanes. The genesis parameter is the product of appropriately scaled 5-day running mean vertical shear, vertical instability, and midlevel moisture variables. The instability and shear variables are calculated from operational NCEP analyses, and the midlevel moisture variable is determined from cloud-cleared GOES water vapor imagery. The average shear and instability variables from 1991 to 1999 and moisture variable from 1995 to 1999 indicate that tropical cyclone formation in the early part of the season is limited by the vertical instability and midlevel moisture. Formation at the end of the season is limited by the vertical shear. On average, there is only a short period from mid-July to mid-October when all three variables are favorable for development. This observation helps explains why tropical cyclone formation in the tropical Atlantic has such a peaked distribution in time. The parameter also helps explain intra- and interseasonal variability in tropical cyclone formation. An independent evaluation of the parameter and possible applications to operational forecasting are presented using data from the 2000 hurricane season. The possibility of determining additional thermodynamic information from the GOES sounder is also discussed.

Corresponding author address: Mark DeMaria, NOAA/NESDIS/ORA, Colorado State University, West Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

Email: demaria@cira.colostate.edu

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