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Giorgio Sarro
and
Clark Evans

Abstract

The transformation stage of extratropical transition characterizes the process by which a tropical cyclone transforms into an extratropical cyclone at higher latitudes in a cooler, more baroclinic environment. A 2006 study connects extremes in transformation-stage duration, post-transformation intensity change, and post-transformation thermal structure for North Atlantic basin tropical cyclones to synoptic-scale environmental variability. However, the 2006 study’s findings are derived from coarse atmospheric analyses that include fictitious tropical cyclone vortices applied to small samples with substantial variability between cases. This study updates the 2006 study’s findings using larger sample sizes, improvements in atmospheric reanalysis resolution and fidelity, and advances in scientific understanding over the last two decades. Transformation-stage duration is primarily a function of the duration that a transforming cyclone remains in an environment supportive of tropical development after entering a region supportive of baroclinic development. Post-transformation intensity-change composites are distinguished primarily by whether proper phasing is achieved between the transforming cyclone and upstream trough following the transformation stage. Finally, post-transformation thermal structure is distinguished primarily by whether the transforming cyclone moves into a strongly confluent synoptic-scale environment following the transformation stage. This study also presents the first composite analyses of North Atlantic tropical cyclones that maintain a lower-tropospheric warm-core structure post-transformation, termed instant warm-seclusion cyclones, which have previously only been diagnosed in case studies of individual North Atlantic tropical cyclones and for a limited climatology of western North Pacific tropical cyclones. These cyclones, comprising approximately one-third of all cases, are characterized by the transforming TC becoming negatively tilted with respect to the upstream trough and undergoing cyclonic Rossby wave breaking.

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Clark Evans
and
Robert E. Hart

Abstract

Extratropical transition brings about a number of environmentally induced structural changes within a transitioning tropical cyclone. Of particular interest among these changes is the acceleration of the wind field away from the cyclone’s center of circulation along with the outward movement of the radial wind maximum, together termed wind field expansion. Previous informal hypotheses aimed at understanding this evolution do not entirely capture the observed expansion, while a review of the literature shows no formal work done upon the topic beyond analyzing its occurrence. This study seeks to analyze the physical and dynamical mechanisms behind the wind field expansion using model simulations of a representative transition case, North Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Bonnie of 1998. The acceleration of the wind field along the outer periphery of the cyclone is found to be a function of the net import of absolute angular momentum within the cyclone’s environment along inflowing trajectories. This evolution is shown to be a natural outgrowth of the development of isentropic conveyor belts and asymmetries associated with extratropical cyclones. Asymmetries in the outer-core wind field manifest themselves via the tightening and development of height and temperature gradients within the cyclone’s environment. Outward movement of the radial wind maximum occurs coincident with integrated net cooling found inside the radius of maximum winds. Tests using a secondary circulation balance model show the radial wind maximum evolution to be similar yet opposite to the response noted for intensifying tropical cyclones with contracting eyewalls.

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Caleb T. Grunzke
and
Clark Evans

Abstract

The predictability and dynamics of the warm-core mesovortex associated with the northern flank of the 8 May 2009 “super derecho” event are examined by coupling the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting Model with the ensemble adjustment Kalman filter implementation within the Data Assimilation Research Testbed facility. Cycled analysis started at 1200 UTC 2 May 2009, with observations assimilated every 6 h until 1200 UTC 7 May 2009, at which time a 50-member ensemble of 36-h convection-allowing ensemble forecasts were launched. The ensemble forecasts all simulated a mesoscale convective system, but only 7 out of 50 members produced a warm-core mesovortex-like feature similar in intensity to the observed mesovortex.

Ensemble sensitivity and composite analyses were conducted to analyze the environmental differences between ensemble members. A more amplified upstream upper-level trough near the time of observed convection initiation is associated with a stronger simulated mesovortex. The amplification of the trough results in increases in the magnitudes of the low-level jet and thermal gradient. Consequently, more moisture is transported poleward into western Kansas, leading to earlier convection initiation in ensemble members with the strongest mesovortices. A circulation budget is performed on the ensemble members with the strongest (member 10) and weakest (member 5) time-averaged circulations. The ascending front-to-rear flow, descending rear-to-front flow, and divergent low-level flow of an MCS are more prominent in member 10, which is hypothesized to allow for the convergence of more background cyclonic absolute vorticity and, thus, facilitating the development of a stronger mesovortex.

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Kevin C. Prince
and
Clark Evans

Abstract

While it is understood that a recurving tropical cyclone (TC) that interacts with the midlatitude flow can cause large changes to the midlatitude flow pattern, it is much less understood if, and how, such events could impact a downstream tropical cyclone. Here, an indirect TC interaction is defined as one in which a primary TC perturbs the downstream midlatitude waveguide within one synoptic-scale wavelength of a secondary TC. In this study, a climatology and composite analysis using ERA-Interim reanalysis data is completed for all indirect interactions occurring between two tropical and/or subtropical cyclones in the North Atlantic and western North Pacific basins between 1989 and 2018. In all, 26 cases are identified in the North Atlantic and 56 cases are identified in the western North Pacific. The composite-mean interaction between a primary TC and upstream trough amplifies the immediate downstream ridge, increasing the tropospheric-deep vertical wind shear on its poleward and, in the western North Pacific, eastern, and equatorward flanks. An amplified downstream trough is detectable farther downstream in the western North Pacific 1–2 days after interaction onset; however, the same is not true in the North Atlantic, in which some cases exhibit anticyclonic Rossby wave breaking of the immediate downstream ridge. Secondary TCs that weaken following the indirect-interaction events are primarily located along the gradient between the downstream ridge and trough (North Atlantic) or at high latitudes (western North Pacific); those that strengthen are primarily located equatorward of the downstream ridge, particularly in the western North Pacific.

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Robert E. Hart
,
Jenni L. Evans
, and
Clark Evans

Abstract

A 34-member ensemble-mean trajectory through the cyclone phase space (CPS) is calculated using Navy Operational Global Atmospheric Prediction System (NOGAPS) analyses for North Atlantic tropical cyclones (TCs) undergoing extratropical transition (ET). Synoptic composites at four ET milestones are examined: 24 h prior to the beginning of ET (TB − 24), the beginning of ET (TB ), the end of ET (TE ), and 24 h after the end of ET (TE + 24). While the extratropically transitioning TC structure is tightly constrained in its tropical phase, it has a variety of evolutions after TE . Partitioning the ensemble based upon post-ET intensity change or structure discriminates among statistically significant ET precursor conditions. Compositing the various post-ET intensity regimes provides insight into the important environmental factors governing post-ET development.

A TC that intensifies (weakens) after TE begins transition (t = TB ) with a negatively (positively) tilted trough 1000 km (1500 km) upstream. The negative tilt permits a contraction and intensification of the eddy potential vorticity (PV) flux, while the positive trough tilt prevents contraction and intensification of the forcing. In 6 of the 34 cases, the posttropical cold-core cyclone develops a warm-seclusion structure, rather than remaining cold core. Anticipation of this warm-seclusion evolution is critical since it represents a dramatically increased risk of middle- to high-latitude wind and wave damage. The warm-seclusion evolution is most favored when the scale of the interacting trough closely matches the scale of the transitioned TC, focusing the eddy PV flux in the outflow layer of the transitioning TC. The sensitivity of structural evolution prior to and after TE illustrated here gives insight into the degradation of global model midlatitude forecast accuracy during a pending ET event.

Eliassen–Palm flux cross sections suggest that ET is primarily driven by the eddy angular momentum flux of the trough, rather than the eddy heat flux associated with the trough. The response of the transitioning TC to the eddy angular momentum forcing is to produce adiabatic ascent and cooling radially inward and beneath the region of the forcing to restore thermal wind balance. In the case of ET, the forcing is maximized lower in the atmosphere, and spread over much greater depth, than in the case of trough-induced TC intensification. Only after TE is the eddy heat flux forcing as significant as the eddy angular momentum forcing, further supporting a physical foundation for the CPS description of cyclone evolution.

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Clark Evans
,
Russ S. Schumacher
, and
Thomas J. Galarneau Jr.

Abstract

This study investigates the impact of abnormally moist soil conditions across the southern Great Plains upon the overland reintensification of North Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Erin (2007). This is tested by analyzing the contributions of three soil moisture–related signals—a seasonal signal, an along-track rainfall signal, and an early postlandfall rainfall signal—to the intensity of the vortex. In so doing, a suite of nine convection-permitting numerical simulations using the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF-ARW) is used. Of the signals tested, soil moisture contributions from the anomalously wet months preceding Erin are found to have the greatest positive impact upon the intensity of the vortex, though this impact is on the order of that from climatological soil moisture conditions. The greatest impact of the early rainfall signal contributions is found when it is added to the seasonal signal. Along-track rainfall during the simulation period has a minimal impact.

Variations in soil moisture content result in impacts upon the boundary layer thermodynamic environment via boundary layer mixing. Greater soil moisture content results in weaker mixing, a shallower boundary layer, and greater moisture and instability. Differences in the intensity of convection that develops and its accompanying latent heat release aloft result in greater warm-core development and surface vortex intensification within the simulations featuring greater soil moisture content. Implications of these findings to the tropical cyclone development process are discussed. Given that the reintensification is shown to occur in, apart from land, an otherwise favorable environment for tropical cyclone development and results in a vortex with a structure similar to developing tropical cyclones, these findings provide new insight into the conditions under which tropical cyclones develop.

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Jesse D. Schaffer
,
Paul J. Roebber
, and
Clark Evans

Abstract

A statistical–dynamical tropical cyclone (TC) intensity model is developed from a large ensemble of algorithms through evolutionary programming (EP). EP mimics the evolutionary principles of genetic information, reproduction, and mutation to develop a population of algorithms with skillful predictor combinations. From this evolutionary process the 100 most skillful algorithms as determined by root-mean square error on validation data are kept and bias corrected. Bayesian model combination is used to assign weights to a subset of 10 skillful yet diverse algorithms from this list. The resulting algorithm combination produces a forecast superior in skill to that from any individual algorithm. Using these methods, two models are developed to give deterministic and probabilistic forecasts for TC intensity every 12 h out to 120 h: one each for the North Atlantic and eastern and central North Pacific basins. Deterministic performance, as defined by MAE, exceeds that of a “no skill” forecast in the North Atlantic to 96 h and is competitive with the operational Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction Scheme and Logistic Growth Equation Model at these times. In the eastern and central North Pacific, deterministic skill is comparable to the blended 5-day climatology and persistence (CLP5) track and decay-SHIFOR (DSHF) intensity forecast (OCD5) only to 24 h, after which time it is generally less skillful than OCD5 and all operational guidance. Probabilistic rapid intensification forecasts at the 25–30 kt (24 h)−1 thresholds, particularly in the Atlantic, are skillful relative to climatology and competitive with operational guidance when subjectively calibrated; however, probabilistic rapid weakening forecasts are not skillful relative to climatology at any threshold in either basin. Case studies are analyzed to give more insight into model behavior and performance.

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Alexandra M. Keclik
,
Clark Evans
,
Paul J. Roebber
, and
Glen S. Romine

Abstract

This study tests the hypothesis that assimilating mid- to upper-tropospheric, meso-α- to synoptic-scale observations collected in upstream, preconvective environments is insufficient to improve short-range ensemble convection initiation (CI) forecast skill over the set of cases considered by the 2013 Mesoscale Predictability Experiment (MPEX) because of a limited influence upon the lower-tropospheric phenomena that modulate CI occurrence, timing, and location. The ensemble Kalman filter implementation within the Data Assimilation Research Testbed as coupled to the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model is used to initialize two nearly identical 30-member ensembles of short-range forecasts for each case: one initial condition set that incorporates MPEX dropsonde observations and one that excludes these observations. All forecasts for a given mission begin at 1500 UTC and are integrated for 15 h on a convection-permitting grid encompassing much of the conterminous United States. Forecast verification is conducted probabilistically using fractions skill score and deterministically using a 2 × 2 contingency table approach at multiple neighborhood sizes and spatiotemporal event-matching thresholds to assess forecast skill and support hypothesis testing. The probabilistic verification represents the first of its kind for numerical CI forecasts. Forecasts without MPEX observations have high fractions skill score and probabilities of detection on the meso-α scale but exhibit a considerable high bias for forecast CI event count. Assimilating MPEX observations has a negligible impact upon forecast skill for the cases considered, independent of verification metric, as the MPEX observations result in only subtle differences primarily manifest in the position and intensity of atmospheric features responsible for focusing and/or triggering deep, moist convection.

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David M. Schultz
,
Altuğ Aksoy
,
Jeffrey Anderson
,
Tommaso Benacchio
,
Kristen L. Corbosiero
,
Matthew D. Eastin
,
Clark Evans
,
Jidong Gao
,
Almut Gassman
,
Joshua P. Hacker
,
Daniel Hodyss
,
Matthew R. Kumjian
,
Ron McTaggart-Cowan
,
Glen Romine
,
Paul Roundy
,
Angela Rowe
,
Elizabeth Satterfield
,
Russ S. Schumacher
,
Stan Trier
,
Christopher Weiss
,
Henry P. Huntington
, and
Gary M. Lackmann
Open access
David M. Schultz
,
Jeffrey Anderson
,
Tommaso Benacchio
,
Kristen L. Corbosiero
,
Matthew D. Eastin
,
Clark Evans
,
Jidong Gao
,
Joshua P. Hacker
,
Daniel Hodyss
,
Daryl Kleist
,
Matthew R. Kumjian
,
Ron McTaggart-Cowan
,
Zhiyong Meng
,
Justin R. Minder
,
Derek Posselt
,
Paul Roundy
,
Angela Rowe
,
Michael Scheuerer
,
Russ S. Schumacher
,
Stan Trier
, and
Christopher Weiss
Free access