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Jonathan Martinez, Michael M. Bell, Robert F. Rogers, and James D. Doyle

Abstract

Operational numerical models failed to predict the record-setting rapid intensification and rapid overwater weakening of Hurricane Patricia (2015) in the eastern North Pacific basin, resulting in large intensity forecast errors. In an effort to better understand the mesoscale processes contributing to Patricia’s rapid intensity changes, we analyze high-resolution aircraft observations collected on 22–23 October. Spline-based variational analyses are created from observations collected via in situ measurements, Doppler radar, and full-tropospheric dropsonde profiles as part of the Office of Naval Research Tropical Cyclone Intensity (TCI) experiment and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Intensity Forecasting Experiment (IFEX). We present the first full-tropospheric calculation of the dry, axisymmetric Ertel’s potential vorticity (PV) in a tropical cyclone without relying on balance assumptions. Detailed analyses reveal the formation of a “hollow tower” PV structure as Patricia rapidly approached its maximum intensity, and a subsequent breakdown of this structure during Patricia’s rapid overwater weakening phase. Transforming the axisymmetric PV analyses from radius–height to potential radius–isentropic coordinates reveals that Patricia’s rapid intensification was closely related to the distribution of diabatic heating and eddy mixing. During Patricia’s rapid overwater weakening phase, eddy mixing processes are hypothesized to be the primary factor rearranging the PV distribution near the eye–eyewall region, diluting the PV previously confined to the hollow tower while approximately conserving the absolute circulation.

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Yi Dai, Sharanya J. Majumdar, and David S. Nolan

Abstract

This study investigates the role of the asymmetric interaction between the tropical cyclone (TC) and the environmental flow in governing the TC inner-core asymmetric structure. Motivated by the limitations of bulk measures of vertical wind shear in representing the complete environmental flow, the TC outflow is used as a focus for the asymmetric interaction. By analyzing an idealized numerical simulation, it is demonstrated that parcels can go directly from the asymmetric rainband to the upper-level outflow. The relatively large vertical mass flux in the rainband region also suggests that the asymmetric rainband is an important source of the outflow. In a simulation that suppresses convection by reducing the water vapor within the rainband region, the upper-level outflow is weakened, further supporting the hypothesis that the rainband and outflow are directly connected. Finally, it is demonstrated that the asymmetric outflow and the outer rainband are coupled through the descending inflow below the outflow. Some of the main characteristics of the outflow–rainband relationship are also supported by a real-case numerical simulation of Hurricane Bill (2009). The relationship is potentially useful for understanding and predicting the evolution of the TC inner-core structure during the interaction with the large-scale environmental flow.

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Benjamin C. Trabing, Michael M. Bell, and Bonnie R. Brown

Abstract

Potential intensity theory predicts that the upper-tropospheric temperature acts as an important constraint on tropical cyclone (TC) intensity. The physical mechanisms through which the upper troposphere impacts TC intensity and structure have not been fully explored, however, due in part to limited observations and the complex interactions between clouds, radiation, and TC dynamics. In this study, idealized Weather Research and Forecasting Model ensembles initialized with a combination of three different tropopause temperatures and with no radiation, longwave radiation only, and full diurnal radiation are used to examine the physical mechanisms in the TC–upper-tropospheric temperature relationship on weather time scales. Simulated TC intensity and structure are strongly sensitive to colder tropopause temperatures using only longwave radiation, but are less sensitive using full radiation and no radiation. Colder tropopause temperatures result in deeper convection and increased ice mass aloft in all cases, but are more intense only when radiation was included. Deeper convection leads to increased local longwave cooling rates but reduced top-of-the-atmosphere outgoing longwave radiation, such that the total radiative heat sink is reduced from a Carnot engine perspective in stronger storms. We hypothesize that a balanced response in the secondary circulation described by the Eliassen equation arises from upper-troposphere radiative cooling anomalies that lead to stronger tangential winds. The results of this study further suggest that radiation and cloud–radiative feedbacks have important impacts on weather time scales.

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Patrick Duran and John Molinari

Abstract

Upper-level static stability (N 2) variations can influence the evolution of the transverse circulation and potential vorticity in intensifying tropical cyclones (TCs). This paper examines these variations during the rapid intensification (RI) of a simulated TC. Over the eye, N 2 near the tropopause decreases and the cold-point tropopause rises by up to 4 km at the storm center. Outside of the eye, N 2 increases considerably just above the cold-point tropopause and the tropopause remains near its initial level. A budget analysis reveals that the advection terms, which include differential advection of potential temperature θ and direct advection of N 2, are important throughout the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. These terms are particularly pronounced within the eye, where they destabilize the layer near and above the cold-point tropopause. Outside of the eye, a radial–vertical circulation develops during RI, with strong outflow below the tropopause and weak inflow above. Differential advection of θ near the outflow jet provides forcing for stabilization below the outflow maximum and destabilization above. Turbulence induced by vertical wind shear on the flanks of the outflow maximum also modifies the vertical stability profile. Meanwhile, radiative cooling tendencies at the top of the cirrus canopy generally act to destabilize the upper troposphere and stabilize the lower stratosphere. The results suggest that turbulence and radiation, alongside differential advection, play fundamental roles in the upper-level N 2 evolution of TCs. These N 2 tendencies could have implications for both the TC diurnal cycle and the tropopause-layer potential vorticity evolution in TCs.

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William A. Komaromi and James D. Doyle

Abstract

The interaction between a tropical cyclone (TC) and an upper-level trough is simulated in an idealized framework using Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) for Tropical Cyclones (COAMPS-TC) on a β plane. We explore the effect of the trough on the environment, structure, and intensity of the TC. In a simulation that does not have a trough, environmental inertial stability is dominated by Coriolis, and outflow remains preferentially directed equatorward throughout the simulation. In the presence of a trough, negative storm-relative tangential wind in the base of the trough reduces the inertial stability such that the outflow shifts from equatorward to poleward. This interaction results in a ~24-h period of enhanced upper-level divergence coincident with intensification of the TC. Sensitivity tests reveal that if the TC is too far from the trough, favorable interaction does not occur. If the TC is too close to the trough, the storm weakens because of enhanced vertical wind shear. Only when the relative distance between the TC and the trough is 0.2–0.3 times the wavelength of the trough in x and 0.8–1.2 times the amplitude of the trough in y does favorable interaction and TC intensification occur. However, stochastic effects make it difficult to isolate the intensity change associated directly with the trough interaction. Outflow is found to be predominantly ageostrophic at small radii and deflects to the right (in the Northern Hemisphere) since it is unbalanced. The outflow becomes predominantly geostrophic at larger radii but not before a rightward deflection has already occurred. This finding sheds light on why the outflow accelerates toward but generally never reaches the region of lowest inertial stability.

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Robert G. Nystrom, Fuqing Zhang, Erin B. Munsell, Scott A. Braun, Jason A. Sippel, Yonghui Weng, and Kerry Emanuel

Abstract

Real-time ensemble forecasts from the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) WRF EnKF system (APSU) for Hurricane Joaquin (2015) are examined in this study. The ensemble forecasts, from early in Joaquin’s life cycle, displayed large track spread, with nearly half of the ensemble members tracking Joaquin toward the U.S. East Coast and the other half tracking Joaquin out to sea. The ensemble forecasts also displayed large intensity spread, with many of the members developing into major hurricanes and other ensemble members not intensifying at all.

Initial condition differences from the regions greater than (less than) 300 km were isolated by effectively removing initial condition differences in desired regions through relaxing each ensemble member to GFS (APSU) initial conditions. The regions of initial condition errors contributing to the track spread were examined, and the dominant source of track errors arose from the region greater than 300 km from the tropical cyclone center. Further examination of the track divergence revealed that the region between 600 and 900 km from the initial position of Joaquin was found to be the largest source of initial condition errors that contributed to this divergence. Small differences in the low-level steering flow, originating from perturbations between 600 and 900 km from the initial position, appear to have resulted in the bifurcation of the forecast tracks of Joaquin. The initial condition errors north of the initial position of Joaquin were also shown to contribute most significantly to the track divergence. The region inside of 300 km, specifically, the initial intensity of Joaquin, was the dominant source of initial condition errors contributing to the intensity spread.

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