Abstract

An empirical model for predicting the maximum wind of landfalling tropical cyclones is developed. The model is based upon the observation that the wind speed decay rate after landfall is proportional to the wind speed. Observations also indicate that the wind speed decays to a small, but nonzero, background wind speed. With these assumptions, the wind speed is determined from a simple two-parameter exponential decay model, which is a function of the wind speed at landfall and the time since landfall. A correction can also be added that accounts for differences between storms that move inland slowly and storms that move inland rapidly. The model parameters are determined from the National Hurricane Center best track intensities of all U.S. landfalling tropical cyclones south of 37°N for the period 1967–93. Three storms that made landfall in Florida prior to 1967 were also included in the sample. Results show that the two-parameter model explains 91% of the variance of the best track intensity changes. When the correction that accounts for variations in the distance inland is added, the model explains 93% of the variance.

This modal can be used for operational forecasting of the maximum winds of landfalling tropical cyclones. It can also be used to estimate the maximum inland penetration of hurricane force winds (or any wind speed threshold) for a given initial storm intensity. The maximum winds at an inland point will occur for a storm that moves inland perpendicular to the coastline. Under this assumption, the maximum wind at a fixed point becomes a function of the wind speed at landfall and the translational speed of motion. For planning purposes, maps of the maximum inland wind speed can be prepared for various initial storm intensities and speeds of motion. The model can also be applied to the entire wind field of an individual storm to provide a two-dimensional field of the maximum wind during a given storm. Examples of each of these applications are presented.

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