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  • Author or Editor: Leonard J. Pietrafesa x
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Lian Xie
,
Tingzhuang Yan
,
Leonard J. Pietrafesa
,
John M. Morrison
, and
Thomas Karl

Abstract

The spatial and temporal variability of North Atlantic hurricane tracks and its possible association with the annual hurricane landfall frequency along the U.S. East Coast are studied using principal component analysis (PCA) of hurricane track density function (HTDF). The results show that, in addition to the well-documented effects of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and vertical wind shear (VWS), North Atlantic HTDF is strongly modulated by the dipole mode (DM) of Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) as well as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO). Specifically, it was found that Atlantic SST DM is the only index that is associated with all top three empirical orthogonal function (EOF) modes of the Atlantic HTDF. ENSO and tropical Atlantic VWS are significantly correlated with the first and the third EOF of the HTDF over the North Atlantic Ocean. The second EOF of North Atlantic HTDF, which represents the “zonal gradient” of North Atlantic hurricane track density, showed no significant correlation with ENSO or with tropical Atlantic VWS. Instead, it is associated with the Atlantic SST DM, and extratropical processes including NAO and AO. Since for a given hurricane season, the preferred hurricane track pattern, together with the overall basinwide hurricane activity, collectively determines the hurricane landfall frequency, the results provide a foundation for the construction of a statistical model that projects the annual number of hurricanes striking the eastern seaboard of the United States.

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