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Kimberly M. Wood
and
Elizabeth A. Ritchie

Abstract

A 42-yr study of eastern North Pacific tropical cyclones (TCs) undergoing extratropical transition (ET) is presented using the Japanese 55-yr Reanalysis dataset. By using cyclone phase space (CPS) to differentiate those TCs that undergo ET from those that do not, it is found that only 9% of eastern North Pacific TCs that developed from 1971 to 2012 complete ET, compared with 40% in the North Atlantic.

Using a combination of CPS, empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis, and composite analysis, it is found that the evolution of ET in this basin differs from that observed in the North Atlantic and western North Pacific, possibly as a result of the rapidly decreasing sea surface temperatures north of the main genesis region. The presence of a strong, deep subtropical ridge extending westward from North America into the eastern North Pacific is a major factor inhibiting ET in this basin. Similar to other basins, eastern North Pacific ET generally occurs in conjunction with an approaching midlatitude trough, which helps to weaken the ridge and allow northward passage of the TC. The frequency of ET appears to increase during developing El Niño events but is not significantly affected by the Pacific decadal oscillation.

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Difei Deng
and
Elizabeth A. Ritchie

Abstract

Tropical Cyclone Debbie (2017) made landfall near Airlie Beach on 28 March 2017 causing 14 fatalities and an estimated $2.67 billion (U.S. dollars) economic loss and was ranked as the most dangerous cyclone to hit Australia since TC Tracy in 1974. In addition to the extreme flooding as TC Debbie moved onshore and down the east coast of Australia, it intensified rapidly just offshore from category 2 to category 4 on the Australian TC intensity scale in under 18 h prior to making landfall. A high-resolution WRF simulation is used to analyze the inner-core structure and evolution during the offshore intensification period. Two stages are identified: a slow intensification (SI) stage characterized by an asymmetric eyewall contraction and a rapid intensification (RI) stage characterized by three eyewall breakdown and redevelopment events. Each round of breakdown and reestablishment brings high potential vorticity and equivalent potential temperature air back into the eyewall, reinvigorating eyewall convection activity and driving intensification.

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Elizabeth A. Ritchie
and
Russell L. Elsberry

Abstract

The extratropical cyclone development processes during the reintensification stage of an extratropical transition from a tropical cyclone (TC) are described using numerical simulations. Three control simulations without a tropical cyclone present examine the extratropical cyclogenesis associated with upper-level troughs that are characterized as weak, moderate, and strong. When no tropical cyclone is included in the simulation, the minimum surface pressures attained with the weak, moderate, and strong troughs are 1003, 991, and 977 mb, respectively. In all three cases, the low tilts northwestward with height during intensification, and the rainfall pattern and eventual occlusion are representative of classic extratropical cyclone development.

The interactions of a tropical cyclone with each of the three midlatitude circulation patterns are compared with the control simulations to illustrate the contributions to the extratropical transition of the tropical cyclone. In the three trough-with-TC cases, the minimum surface pressures were almost identical (967, 965, and 959 mb). Thus, the final intensity of the extratropical cyclone is not only related to the strength of the upper-level trough but must also be related to the structure of the basic midlatitude environment. The proper phasing of the tropical cyclone with the midlatitude trough results in substantial enhancement of the upper-level divergence. In addition, higher θ e values in the lower troposphere associated with the tropical cyclone remnants are absorbed in the developing extratropical cyclone. The lifting of this moist air results in precipitation that is greater in both amount and areal extent, which enhances extratropical development when compared with the control cases. Based on these simulations, an important conclusion is that a weak midlatitude trough interacting with tropical cyclone remnants may have as much potential to intensify, as does a moderate or strong trough, and may have longer periods of rapid intensification.

A development potential parameter based on the three main factors in the Petterssen development equation (upper-level divergence, midlevel positive vorticity advection, and low-level temperature advection) is calculated for all simulations. The strength and areal extent of the development parameter has utility in predicting where and whether extratropical cyclogenesis will occur during the reintensification stage of extratropical transition.

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Kimberly M. Wood
and
Elizabeth A. Ritchie

Abstract

A case study of eastern North Pacific Tropical Storm Ignacio (1997), which brought rainfall to the southwestern United States as a tropical cyclone and to the northwestern United States as an extratropical cyclone, is presented. This tropical cyclone formed from a region of disturbed weather, rather than a tropical wave, outside the typical eastern North Pacific genesis region and intensified into a tropical storm coincident with the passage of an upper-tropospheric trough. Moisture transported from Ignacio along an outflow jet associated with the trough resulted in precipitation in Mexico and the southwestern United States. As Ignacio moved north and away from the trough, this tropical cyclone weakened and eventually underwent extratropical transition over the open ocean, in contrast to climatological eastern North Pacific tropical cyclone behavior. Ignacio then strengthened as an extratropical cyclone due to favorable baroclinic conditions and the passage of another upper-tropospheric trough before making landfall on the northern coast of California, bringing rain to the northwestern United States. Ignacio’s remnant moisture eventually merged into a slow-moving midlatitude low pressure system that developed after interacting with the extratropical remnant of Hurricane Guillermo.

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Kimberly M. Wood
and
Elizabeth A. Ritchie

Abstract

A dataset of 167 eastern North Pacific tropical cyclones (TCs) is investigated for potential impacts in the southwestern United States over the period 1989–2009 and evaluated in the context of a 30-yr climatology. The statistically significant patterns from empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis demonstrate the prevalence of a midlatitude trough pattern when TC-related rainfall occurs in the southwestern United States. Conversely, the presence of a strong subtropical ridge tends to prevent such events from occurring and limits TC-related rainfall to Mexico. These statistically significant patterns correspond well with previous work. The El Niño–Southern Oscillation phenomenon is shown to have some effect on eastern North Pacific TC impacts on the southwestern United States, as shifts in the general circulation can subsequently influence which regions receive rainfall from TCs or their remnants. The Pacific decadal oscillation may have a greater influence during the period of study as evidenced by EOF analysis of sea surface temperature anomalies.

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Elizabeth A. Ritchie
and
Russell L. Elsberry

Abstract

Whether the tropical cyclone remnants will become a significant extratropical cyclone during the reintensification stage of extratropical transition is a complex problem because of the uncertainty in the tropical cyclone, the midlatitude circulation, the subtropical anticyclone, and the nonlinear interactions among these systems. In a previous study, the authors simulated the impact of the strength of the midlatitude circulation trough without changing its phasing with the tropical cyclone. In this study, the impact of phasing is simulated by fixing the initial position and amplitude of the midlatitude trough and varying the initial position of the tropical cyclone. The peak intensity of the extratropical cyclone following the extratropical transition is strongly dependent on the phasing, which leads to different degrees of interaction with the midlatitude baroclinic zone. Many aspects of the simulated circulation, temperature, and precipitation fields appear quite realistic for the reintensifying and dissipating cases. Threshold values of various parameters in quadrants near and far from the tropical cyclone are extracted that discriminate well between reintensifiers and dissipators. The selection and distribution of threshold parameters are consistent with the Petterssen type-B conceptual model for extratropical cyclone development. Thus, these simulations suggest that phasing between the tropical cyclone and the midlatitude trough is a critical factor in predicting the reintensification stage of extratropical transition.

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Difei Deng
and
Elizabeth A. Ritchie

Abstract

Tropical Cyclone Oswald (2013) is considered to be one of the highest-impact storms to make landfall in northern Australia even though it only reached a maximum category 1 intensity on the Australian category scale. After making landfall on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula, Oswald turned southward, and persisted for more than 7 days moving parallel to the coastline as far south as 30°S. As one of the wettest tropical cyclones (TCs) in Australian history, the favorable configurations of a lower-latitude active monsoon trough and two consecutive midlatitude trough–jet systems generally contributed to the maintenance of the Oswald circulation over land and prolonged rainfall. As a result, Oswald produced widespread heavy rainfall along the east coast with three maximum centers near Weipa, Townsville, and Rockhampton, respectively. Using high-resolution WRF simulations, the mechanisms associated with TC Oswald’s rainfall are analyzed. The results show that the rainfall involved different rainfall mechanisms at each stage. The land–sea surface friction contrast, the vertical wind shear, and monsoon trough were mostly responsible for the intensity and location for the first heavy rainfall center on the Cape York Peninsula. The second torrential rainfall near Townsville was primarily a result of the local topography and land–sea frictional convergence in a conditionally unstable monsoonal environment with frictional convergence due to TC motion modulating some offshore rainfall. The third rainfall area was largely dominated by persistent high vertical wind shear forcing, favorable large-scale quasigeostrophic dynamic lifting from two midlatitude trough–jet systems, and mesoscale frontogenesis lifting.

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Diana R. Stovern
and
Elizabeth A. Ritchie

Abstract

This study uses the WRF ARW to investigate how different atmospheric temperature environments impact the size and structure development of a simulated tropical cyclone (TC). In each simulation, the entire vertical virtual temperature profile is either warmed or cooled in 1°C increments from an initial specified state while the initial relative humidity profile and sea surface temperature are held constant. This alters the initial amount of convective available potential energy (CAPE), specific humidity, and air–sea temperature difference such that, when the simulated atmosphere is cooled (warmed), the initial specific humidity and CAPE decrease (increase), but the surface energy fluxes from the ocean increase (decrease).

It is found that the TCs that form in an initially cooler environment develop larger wind and precipitation fields with more active outer-core rainband formation. Consistent with previous studies, outer-core rainband formation is associated with high surface energy fluxes, which leads to increases in the outer-core wind field. A larger convective field develops despite initializing in a low CAPE environment, and the dynamics are linked to a wider field of surface radial inflow. As the TC matures and radial inflow expands, large imports of relative angular momentum in the boundary layer continue to drive expansion of the TC’s overall size.

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Kyle Davis
,
Xubin Zeng
, and
Elizabeth A. Ritchie

Abstract

Statistical, dynamical, and statistical–dynamical hybrid models have been developed in past decades for the seasonal prediction of North Atlantic hurricane numbers. These models’ prediction skills show considerable decadal variability, with particularly poor performance in the past few years. Here, environmental factors that affect hurricane activities are reevaluated to develop a new statistical model for seasonal prediction by 1 June of each year. The predictors include the April–May multivariate ENSO index (MEI) conditioned upon the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) index, the power of the average zonal pseudo–wind stress across the North Atlantic in May, and the average March–May tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature. When compared to the actual number of hurricanes each year from 1950 to 2013, this model has a root-mean-square error (RMSE) of 1.91 with a correlation coefficient of 0.71. It shows a 39% improvement in RMSE over a no-skill metric (based on the 5-yr running mean of seasonal hurricane counts) for the period 2001–13. It also outperforms three statistical–dynamical hybrid models [CPC, Colorado State University (CSU), and Tropical Storm Risk (TSR)] by more than 25% for the same period. Furthermore, two approaches are developed to provide the uncertainty ranges around the predicted (deterministic) hurricane number per season that better encompass the range of uncertainty than does the standard method of adding/subtracting a standard deviation of the errors.

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David E. Kofron
,
Elizabeth A. Ritchie
, and
J. Scott Tyo

Abstract

As a tropical cyclone moves poleward and interacts with the midlatitude circulation, the question of whether it will undergo extratropical transition (ET) and, if it does, whether it will reintensify or dissipate, is a complex problem. Several quantities have been proposed in previous studies to describe extratropical transition including frontogenesis, 500-hPa geopotential heights, and cyclone phase-space parameters. In this study, these parameters are explored for their utility in defining an ET time using the Navy’s Operational Global Assimilation and Prediction System gridded analyses. The 500-hPa geopotential heights and frontogenesis currently do not have objective numerical definitions. Therefore, this study attempts to establish and examine threshold values that may be used to objectively define the ET time. Cyclone phase space already has numerical threshold values that can be examined.

Results show that the 500-hPa geopotential height open wave distinguishes 81 of 82 cases, but it fails to discriminate between transitioning ET and recurving non-ET cases and cannot be determined automatically. The 2D scalar frontogenesis distinguishes 77 of 82 cases but does not discriminate between transitioning ET and recurving non-ET cases. Finally, phase space successfully distinguishes 81 of 82 cases for the “ET time” defined by the asymmetry parameter but is only successful at capturing transitioning ET and recurving non-ET cases properly for 60 of 82 cases. All of the definitions are found to have disadvantages that preclude them from providing consistent guidance for when extratropical transition of a poleward-recurving tropical cyclone is occurring.

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