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Bradford S. Barrett
and
Lance M. Leslie

Abstract

The leading intraseasonal mode of atmospheric and oceanic variability, the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), influences tropical and extratropical sea level pressure, temperature, divergent and rotational wind components, moisture, and deep convection. As a 40- to 50-day oscillation, the MJO is also known to influence tropical phenomena, including tropical cyclone (TC) activity in various TC basins. The links between the MJO and multiple measures of TC activity, including genesis, landfall, and an integrative accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) index, were quantified for multiple TC-formation basins across the Western Hemisphere, including the North Atlantic and northeast Pacific Ocean and subbasins, for the period 1978–2006. Using this relatively long (29 yr) TC dataset and employing an upper-tropospheric MJO diagnostic that is physically meaningful over the entire Western Hemisphere, this study extends existing research on the relationships between the MJO and TCs. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center’s operational MJO index, derived from 200-hPa velocity potential data, was divided into three phases. Relative frequencies of the MJO phases were compared with observed levels of TC activity using a binomial distribution hypothesis test. The MJO was found to statistically significantly modulate the frequency of TC genesis, intensification, and landfall in the nine TC basins studied. For example, when an MJO index was large and positive at 120°W, hurricanes and intense hurricanes were 4 times as likely to make landfall in the North Atlantic. This modulation of TC activity, including landfall patterns in the North Atlantic, was physically linked to the upper-atmospheric response to the eastward-propagating MJO and is evident as a dipole of TC activity between Pacific and Atlantic subbasins.

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Bradford S. Barrett
and
Brittany N. Henley

Abstract

Climatologies have been developed to highlight variability of the frequency and intensity of hail in the United States. However, the intraseasonal variability of hail, including why one week might be active while the following inactive despite both having similar climatological probabilities, has not yet been explored. This paper presents relationships between spring-season (April–June) hail days and the leading mode of atmospheric intraseasonal variability, the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). It extends recent work on intraseasonal tornado variability to smaller spatial scales. In April, May, and June, statistically significant variability in hail days was found for different Real-time Multivariate MJO (RMM) phases of the MJO. For April, the strongest correlations between hail-day anomalies and anomalies of the product of convective available potential energy (CAPE) and 0–6-km vertical wind shear were found in RMM phase 5, with above-normal likelihood of a hail day found in the south-central United States. For May, the strongest correlations were found in RMM phase 3, with below-normal likelihood of a hail day located over the north-central United States. For June, the strongest correlations were found in phase 8, with above-normal likelihood of hail in west Texas and below-normal likelihood of hail over much of the middle of the United States. In all phases, 300-hPa height anomalies in the United States formed part of a global wave train similar to MJO patterns in both modeling and observational studies.

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Bradford S. Barrett
,
RenéD. Garreaud
, and
Mark Falvey

Abstract

The effects of the Andes Cordillera, the major mountain range in South America, on precipitation patterns of baroclinic systems approaching from the southeast Pacific remain largely unstudied. This study focuses on a case in late May 2008 when an upper-level trough and surface cold front produced widespread precipitation in central Chile. The primary goal was to analyze the physical mechanisms responsible for the structure and evolution of the precipitation.

Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model simulations indicate that as an upper-level trough approached central Chile, midtropospheric flow below 700 hPa was blocked by the high topography and deflected poleward in the form of a barrier jet. This northerly jet had wind maxima in excess of 15 m s−1, was centered around 925 hPa, and extended westward 200 km from the mountains. It intersected the cold front, which approached from the south near the coast, thereby increasing convergence along the frontal surface, slowing its equatorward progress, and enhancing rainfall over central Chile. Another separate region of heavy precipitation formed over the upwind slopes of the cordillera. A trajectory analysis confirmed that the barrier jet moved low-level parcels from their origin in the moist southeast Pacific boundary layer to the coast. When model topography was reduced to twenty percent of its original height, the cold front advanced more rapidly to the northeast, generated less precipitation in central Chile between 33° and 36°S, and produced minimal orographic precipitation on the upwind Andean slopes. Based on these findings, the high topography appears responsible for not only orographic precipitation but also for substantially increasing precipitation totals over the central coast and valley.

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Bradford S. Barrett
,
Lance M. Leslie
, and
Brian H. Fiedler

Abstract

Since 1970, tropical cyclone (TC) track forecasts have improved steadily in the Atlantic basin. This improvement has been linked primarily to advances in numerical weather prediction (NWP) models. Concurrently, with few exceptions, the development and operational use of statistical track prediction schemes have experienced a relative decline. Statistical schemes provided the most accurate TC track forecasts until approximately the late 1980s. In this note, it is shown that increased reliance on the global NWP models does not always guarantee the best forecast. Here, Hurricane Ivan is used from the 2004 Atlantic TC season as a classical example, and reminder, of how strong climatological signals still can add substantial value to TC track forecasts, in the form of improved accuracy and increased timeliness at minimal computational cost.

In an 8-day period in early September 2004, Hurricane Ivan was repeatedly, and incorrectly, forecast by 12 operational NWP models to move with a significant northward (poleward) component. It was found that the mean 24-h trajectory forecasts of a consensus of five commonly used NWP track prediction aids had a statistically significant right-of-track bias. Furthermore, the official track forecasts, which relied heavily on erroneous numerical guidance over this period, were also found to have significant poleward trajectory errors. At the same time, a climatology-based prediction technique, drawn entirely from the historical record of motion characteristics of TCs in geographical locations similar to Ivan, correctly and consistently indicated a more westward motion component, had a small directional spread, and was supported by a large number of archived cases. This climatological signal was in conflict with the deterministic NWP model output, and it is suggested that the large errors in the official track forecast for TC Ivan could have been reduced considerably by taking into greater account such a strong climatological signal. The potential impact of such an error reduction is a saving of lives and billions of dollars in both actual damage and unnecessary evacuations costs, for just this one hurricane. We also suggest that this simple strategy of examining the strength of the climatological signal be considered for all TCs to identify cases where the NWP and official forecasts differ significantly from strong, persistent climatological signals.

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Elizabeth R. Sanabia
,
Bradford S. Barrett
, and
Caitlin M. Fine

Abstract

Radial profiles of infrared brightness temperature for 2405 different satellite observations from 14 western North Pacific tropical cyclones (TCs) from the 2012 season were analyzed and compared to intensity and changes in intensity. Four critical points along the inner core of each infrared (IR) brightness temperature (BT) profile were identified: coldest cloud top (CCT), first overshooting top (FOT), and lower (L45) and upper (U45) extent of the inner eyewall. Radial movement of the mean CCT point outward with increasing TC intensity, combined with subsequent warming of the mean L45 point with intensity, highlighted structure changes that are consistent with eye and eyewall development. When stratified by latitude and vertical wind shear, the CCT point moved radially outward for all cases, notably at higher intensities for lower-latitude TCs and at lower intensities for higher-latitude TCs. The majority of the warming of the L45 point with increasing intensity occurred for low-latitude and low-shear cases. Slopes of IR BT between the four critical points were statistically significantly negatively correlated with intensity, indicating that stronger (weaker) TCs had more (less) negative slopes of IR BT and more (less) vertical eyewall profiles. Furthermore, except in high-shear cases, the most negative correlations were found in the inner eyewall, consistent with results from recent studies based on radar reconnaissance data. Finally, 12-h changes in slope were found to lead 12-h changes in intensity most often at higher latitudes, providing evidence that changes in the secondary TC circulation may lead changes in the primary TC circulation for both strengthening and weakening TCs.

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Gina R. Henderson
,
Bradford S. Barrett
,
Ashley Lois
, and
Haadi Elsaawy

ABSTRACT

Intraseasonal tropical variability has important implications for the mid- and high-latitude atmosphere, and in recent studies has been shown to modulate a number of weather processes in the Northern Hemisphere, such as snow depth, sea ice concentration, precipitation, atmospheric rivers, and air temperature. In such studies, the extratropical atmosphere has tended to respond to the tropical convection of the leading mode of intraseasonal variability, the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), with a time lag of approximately 7 days. However, the time lag between the MJO and the Antarctic atmosphere has been found to vary between less than 7 and greater than 20 days. This study builds on previous work by further examining the time-lagged response of Southern Hemisphere tropospheric circulation to tropical MJO forcing, with specific focus on the latitude belt associated with the Antarctic Oscillation, during the months of June (austral winter) and December (austral summer) using NCEP–DOE Reanalysis 2 data for the years 1979–2016. Principal findings indicate that the time lag with the strongest height anomalies depends on both the location of the MJO convection (e.g., the MJO phase) and the season, and that the lagged height anomalies in the Antarctic atmosphere are fairly consistent across different vertical levels and latitudinal bands. In addition, certain MJO phases in December displayed lagged height anomalies indicative of blocking-type atmospheric patterns, with an approximate wavenumber of 4, whereas in June most phases were associated with more progressive height anomaly centers resembling a wavenumber-3-type pattern.

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Casey R. Densmore
,
Elizabeth R. Sanabia
, and
Bradford S. Barrett

Abstract

The quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) is stratified by stratospheric zonal wind direction and height into four phase pairs [easterly midstratospheric winds (QBOEM), easterly lower-stratospheric winds, westerly midstratospheric winds (QBOWM), and westerly lower-stratospheric winds] using an empirical orthogonal function analysis of daily stratospheric (100–10 hPa) zonal wind data during 1980–2017. Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) events in which the MJO convective envelope moved eastward across the Maritime Continent (MC) during 1980–2017 are identified using the Real-time Multivariate MJO (RMM) index and the outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) MJO index (OMI). Comparison of RMM amplitudes by the QBO phase pair over the MC (RMM phases 4 and 5) reveals that boreal winter MJO events have the strongest amplitudes during QBOEM and the weakest amplitudes during QBOWM, which is consistent with QBO-driven differences in upper-tropospheric lower-stratospheric (UTLS) static stability. Additionally, boreal winter RMM events over the MC strengthen during QBOEM and weaken during QBOWM. In the OMI, those amplitude changes generally shift eastward to the eastern MC and western Pacific Ocean, which may result from differences in RMM and OMI index methodologies. During boreal summer, as the northeastward-propagating boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation (BSISO) becomes the dominant mode of intraseasonal variability, these relationships are reversed. Zonal differences in UTLS stability anomalies are consistent with amplitude changes of eastward-propagating MJO events across the MC during boreal winter, and meridional stability differences are consistent with amplitude changes of northeastward-propagating BSISO events during boreal summer. Results remain consistent when stratifying by neutral ENSO phase.

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Bradford S. Barrett
,
Luis M. Farfán
,
Graciela B. Raga
, and
Daribel H. Hernández

Abstract

This study analyzes the synoptic- and mesoscale conditions present during initiation and intensification of the supercell thunderstorm that produced a tornado in Ciudad Acuña, a community located in the state of Coahuila, Mexico, 10 km southwest of the U.S. border. Early morning convective activity, first detected by radar at 0628 UTC 25 May 2015, developed into an intense and well-defined supercell thunderstorm that produced a tornado between approximately 1045 and 1130 UTC. Hourly analyses from the Rapid Refresh model indicated an upslope component to surface flow in the region of convection initiation over the Serranías del Burro (SdB). Along the storm’s trajectory, dewpoint temperatures increased from 15° to 22°C, convective available potential energy increased from 1500 to near 4000 J kg−1, and convective inhibition changed from −150 J kg−1 at the time of convection initiation to near zero in Ciudad Acuña. Simulations from the Weather Research and Forecasting Model confirmed the sensitivity of both convection initiation and storm intensification to the topography of the SdB. In the control simulation and two simulations in which topography was reduced in elevation, a cluster of storms formed and intensified over the central mountains. However, when topography was further reduced and the SdB region became a large flat plain, little convective activity was seen, forming only along the dryline without intensifying or propagating to the east as was observed.

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Elizabeth R. Sanabia
,
Bradford S. Barrett
,
Nicholas P. Celone
, and
Zachary D. Cornelius

Abstract

Satellite and aircraft observations of the concurrent evolution of cloud-top brightness temperatures (BTs) and the surface and flight-level wind fields were examined before and during an eyewall replacement cycle (ERC) in Typhoon Sinlaku (2008) as part of The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX) Pacific Asian Regional Campaign (T-PARC) and the Tropical Cyclone Structure 2008 (TCS08) field campaign. The structural evolution of deep convection through the life cycle of the ERC was clearly evident in the radial variation of positive water vapor (WV) minus infrared (IR) brightness temperature differences over the 96-h period. Within this framework, the ERC was divided into six broadly defined stages, wherein convective processes (including eyewall development and decay) were analyzed and then validated using microwave data. Dual maxima in aircraft wind speeds and geostationary satellite BTs along flight transects through Sinlaku were used to document the temporal evolution of the ERC within the TC inner core. Negative correlations were found between IR BTs and surface wind speeds, indicating that colder cloud tops were associated with stronger surface winds. Spatial lags indicated that the strongest surface winds were located radially inward of both the flight-level winds and coldest cloud tops. Finally, timing of the ERC was observed equally in IR and WV minus IR (WVIR) BTs with one exception. Decay of the inner eyewall was detected earlier in the WVIR data. These findings highlight the potential utility of WVIR and IR BT radial profiles, particularly so for basins without active aircraft weather reconnaissance programs such as the western North Pacific.

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Julio C. Marín
,
Felipe Gutiérrez
,
Vittorio A. Gensini
,
Bradford S. Barrett
,
Diana Pozo
,
Martín Jacques-Coper
, and
Daniel Veloso-Aguila

Abstract

Tornadoes in Chile seem to develop in what are called “high-shear, low-CAPE” (HSLC) environments. An analysis of convective parameters from the ERA5 reanalysis during sixteen notable tornadoes in Chile showed that several increased markedly before the time of the reports. The significant tornado parameter (STP) was able to discriminate the timing and location of the tornadoes, even though it was not created with that goal. We established thresholds for the Severe Hazards in Environments with Reduced Buoyancy (SHERBE) parameter (≥1) and the STP (≤−0.3) to further identify days favorable for tornado activity in Chile. The SHERBE and STP parameters were then used to conduct a climatological analysis from 1959–2021 of the seasonal, interannual, and latitudinal variation of the environments that might favor tornadoes. Both parameters were found to have a strong annual cycle. The largest magnitudes of STP were found to be generally confined to south-central Chile, in agreement with the (sparse) tornado record. The probability of a day with both SHERBE and STP values beyond their thresholds was greatest between May and August, which aligns with the months with the most tornado reports. The number of days with both SHERBE and STP beyond their respective thresholds was found to fluctuate interanually. This result warrants further study given the known interannual variability of synoptic and mesoscale weather in Chile. The results of this study extend our understanding of tornado environments in Chile and provide insight into their spatio-temporal variability.

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