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Erin B. Munsell
,
Fuqing Zhang
,
Jason A. Sippel
,
Scott A. Braun
, and
Yonghui Weng

Abstract

The dynamics and predictability of the intensification of Hurricane Edouard (2014) are explored through a 60-member convection-permitting ensemble initialized with an ensemble Kalman filter that assimilates dropsondes collected during NASA’s Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) investigation. The 126-h forecasts are initialized when Edouard was designated as a tropical depression and include Edouard’s near–rapid intensification (RI) from a tropical storm to a strong category-2 hurricane. Although the deterministic forecast was very successful and many members correctly forecasted Edouard’s intensification, there was significant spread in the timing of intensification among the members of the ensemble.

Utilizing composite groups created according to the near-RI-onset times of the members, it is shown that, for increasing magnitudes of deep-layer shear, RI onset is increasingly delayed; intensification will not occur once a critical shear threshold is exceeded. Although the timing of intensification varies by as much as 48 h, a decrease in shear is observed across the intensifying composite groups ~6–12 h prior to RI. This decrease in shear is accompanied by a reduction in vortex tilt, as the precession and subsequent alignment process begins ~24–48 h prior to RI. Sensitivity experiments reveal that some of the variation in RI timing can be attributed to differences in initial intensity, as the earliest-developing members have the strongest initial vortices regardless of their environment. Significant sensitivity and limited predictability exists for members with weaker initial vortices and/or that are embedded in less conducive environments, under which the randomness of moist convective processes and minute initial differences distant from the surface center can produce divergent forecasts.

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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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