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Brian H. Tang

Abstract

An ensemble of axisymmetric model experiments with simplified physics is used to evaluate the diagnostic framework presented in Part I. The central piece of the framework is understanding what causes decreases in the ratio of bulk differences of moist entropy over differences of angular momentum between two defined regions, the boundary between the two demarcating the approximate location of the emergence of the radius of maximum wind of the developing meso-beta-scale protovortex. Within a day before tropical cyclogenesis, the moist entropy forcing results in a decrease of this ratio. Net advective fluxes act to export moist entropy from the outer region and import moist entropy into the inner region, resulting in a positive radial gradient in gross moist stability that is maximized around the time of genesis. While surface moist entropy fluxes are needed for genesis to occur, they act synergistically with the net advective fluxes to decrease the ratio before and during genesis. Within a day after tropical cyclogenesis, surface moist entropy fluxes directly amplify the positive difference in moist entropy between the inner and outer regions, and radial fluxes of angular momentum reduce the magnitude of the negative difference in angular momentum between the inner and outer regions. Both of these processes act to reduce the ratio further. The framework highlights differences in processes occurring before, during, and after genesis as the meso-beta-scale protovortex develops and intensifies.

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Brian H. Tang

Abstract

A diagnostic framework to investigate the role of processes around and during tropical cyclogenesis is presented. The key framework metric is the ratio of bulk differences of moist entropy over differences of angular momentum between an inner and outer region of a tropical disturbance or cyclone. This ratio is hypothesized to decrease and become negative as both the high-entropy core and low-level vortex in the inner region amplify during tropical cyclogenesis. The time tendency of this ratio can be split into two forcings: a moist entropy forcing and an angular momentum forcing. Each forcing can be further divided into components comprising differences in net advective fluxes and nonadvective boundary fluxes of moist entropy or angular momentum between each region. The framework provides a comprehensive way to compare the relative importance of processes leading to tropical cyclogenesis in a tractable, consistent manner. Suggestions on how to apply the framework to numerical model output are given.

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Brian H. Tang and Nick P. Bassill

Abstract

A statistical downscaling algorithm is introduced to forecast surface wind speed at a location. The downscaling algorithm consists of resolved and unresolved components to yield a time series of synthetic wind speeds at high time resolution. The resolved component is a bias-corrected numerical weather prediction model forecast of the 10-m wind speed at the location. The unresolved component is a simulated time series of the high-frequency component of the wind speed that is trained to match the variance and power spectral density of wind observations at the location. Because of the stochastic nature of the unresolved wind speed, the downscaling algorithm may be repeated to yield an ensemble of synthetic wind speeds. The ensemble may be used to generate probabilistic predictions of the sustained wind speed or wind gusts. Verification of the synthetic winds produced by the downscaling algorithm indicates that it can accurately predict various features of the observed wind, such as the probability distribution function of wind speeds, the power spectral density, daily maximum wind gust, and daily maximum sustained wind speed. Thus, the downscaling algorithm may be broadly applicable to any application that requires a computationally efficient, accurate way of generating probabilistic forecasts of wind speed at various time averages or forecast horizons.

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Michael S. Fischer, Brian H. Tang, and Kristen L. Corbosiero

Abstract

The role of upper-tropospheric troughs on the intensification rate of newly formed tropical cyclones (TCs) is analyzed. This study focuses on TCs forming in the presence of upper-tropospheric troughs in the North Atlantic basin between 1980 and 2014. TCs were binned into three groups based upon the 24-h intensification rate starting at the time of genesis: rapid TC genesis (RTCG), slow TC genesis (STCG), and neutral TC genesis (NTCG). Composite analysis shows RTCG events are characterized by amplified upper-tropospheric flow with the largest upshear displacement between the TC and trough of the three groups. RTCG events are associated with greater quasigeostrophic (QG) ascent in upshear quadrants of the TC, forced by differential vorticity advection by the thermal wind, especially around the time of genesis. This pattern of QG ascent closely matches the RTCG composite of infrared brightness temperatures.

Conversely, NTCG events are associated with an upper-tropospheric trough that is closest to the TC center. The distribution of QG ascent in NTCG events becomes increasingly asymmetric around the time of genesis, with a maximum that shifts downshear of the TC center, consistent with infrared brightness temperatures. It is hypothesized that the TC intensification rate after tropical cyclogenesis, in environments of upper-tropospheric troughs, is closely linked to the structure and temporal evolution of the upper-level trough. The TC–trough configurations that provide greater QG ascent to the left of, and upshear of, the TC center feature more symmetric convection and faster TC intensification rates.

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Joshua J. Alland, Brian H. Tang, and Kristen L. Corbosiero

Abstract

Idealized experiments conducted with an axisymmetric tropical cyclone (TC) model are used to assess the effects of midlevel dry air on the axisymmetric TC secondary circulation. Moist entropy diagnostics of convective parcels are used to determine how midlevel dry air affects the distribution and strength of convection. Analyzing upward and downward motions in the Eulerian radius–height coordinate system shows that the moistest simulation has stronger vertical motions and a wider overturning circulation compared to drier simulations. A Lagrangian entropy framework further analyzes convective motions by separating upward higher-entropy streams from downward lower-entropy streams. Results show that the driest simulation has a weaker mean overturning circulation with updrafts characterized by lower mean entropy compared to moister simulations. Turbulent entrainment of dry air into deep convection at midlevels is small, suggesting that the influence of midlevel dry air on convective strength and the structure of the secondary circulation are through modification of the inflow layer. Backward trajectories show low-entropy air subsiding into the subcloud layer from low to midlevels of the atmosphere between radii of 200 and 400 km. Surface fluxes increase the entropy of these parcels before they rise in convective updrafts, but the increased recovery time, combined with descending motion closer to the inner core, decreases the width of the TC secondary circulation in the driest simulation.

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Michael S. Fischer, Brian H. Tang, and Kristen L. Corbosiero

Abstract

Tropical cyclone (TC)–trough interactions are a common occurrence in the North Atlantic basin and lead to a variety of TC intensity changes, from rapid intensification (RI) to rapid weakening. To test whether certain TC–trough configurations are more favorable for RI than others, the upper-tropospheric troughs involved in such interactions were objectively classified into one of three clusters through the implementation of a machine-learning, dimensionality-reduction technique in conjunction with a k-means clustering algorithm. Through composite analyses, the upper-tropospheric potential vorticity structure, the TC convective structure, and the TC environment were examined for both rapidly intensifying TCs and nonrapidly intensifying (non-RI) TCs. As a whole, RI episodes were associated with upper-tropospheric troughs of shorter zonal wavelengths and greater upstream TC–trough displacements than non-RI episodes. RI was found to occur most frequently when an upper-tropospheric cutoff low was located approximately 500–1000 km southwest of the TC location. RI occurred preferentially in environments associated with less ventilation of the TC warm core with low-entropy environmental air. An examination of potential trough-induced forcing for convection revealed little relationship between RI and eddy flux convergence of angular momentum. Nonetheless, RI episodes were associated with anomalously vigorous convective activity within the TC inner core, as diagnosed by infrared and passive microwave satellite imagery.

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Matthew T. Vaughan, Brian H. Tang, and Lance F. Bosart

Abstract

This study identifies high-impact severe weather events with poor predictive skill over the northeast United States using Storm Prediction Center (SPC) convective outlooks. The objectives are to build a climatology of high-impact, low predictive skill events between 1980 and 2013 and investigate the differences in the synoptic-scale environment and severe weather parameters between severe weather events with low predictive skill and high predictive skill. Event-centered composite analyses, performed using the National Centers for Environmental Prediction Climate Forecast System Reanalysis and the North American Regional Reanalysis, suggest low predictive skill events occur significantly more often in low-shear environments. Additionally, a plurality of low probability of detection (POD), high-impact events occurred in low-shear, high-CAPE environments. Statistical analysis of low-shear, high-CAPE environments suggests high downdraft CAPE (DCAPE) and relatively dry lower levels of the atmosphere are associated with widespread severe weather events. DCAPE and dry boundary layer air may contribute to severe wind gusts through strong negative buoyancy and enhanced evaporative cooling of descending saturated parcels.

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Joshua J. Alland, Brian H. Tang, Kristen L. Corbosiero, and George H. Bryan

Abstract

This study examines how midlevel dry air and vertical wind shear (VWS) can modulate tropical cyclone (TC) development via downdraft ventilation. A suite of experiments was conducted with different combinations of initial midlevel moisture and VWS. A strong, positive, linear relationship exists between the low-level vertical mass flux in the inner core and TC intensity. The linear increase in vertical mass flux with intensity is not due to an increased strength of upward motions but, instead, is due to an increased areal extent of strong upward motions (w > 0.5 m s−1). This relationship suggests physical processes that could influence the vertical mass flux, such as downdraft ventilation, influence the intensity of a TC. The azimuthal asymmetry and strength of downdraft ventilation is associated with the vertical tilt of the vortex: downdraft ventilation is located cyclonically downstream from the vertical tilt direction and its strength is associated with the magnitude of the vertical tilt. Importantly, equivalent potential temperature of parcels associated with downdraft ventilation trajectories quickly recovers via surface fluxes in the subcloud layer, but the areal extent of strong upward motions is reduced. Altogether, the modulating effects of downdraft ventilation on TC development are the downward transport of low–equivalent potential temperature, negative-buoyancy air left of shear and into the upshear semicircle, as well as low-level radial outflow upshear, which aid in reducing the areal extent of strong upward motions, thereby reducing the vertical mass flux in the inner core, and stunting TC development.

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Joshua J. Alland, Brian H. Tang, Kristen L. Corbosiero, and George H. Bryan

Abstract

This study demonstrates how midlevel dry air and vertical wind shear (VWS) can modulate tropical cyclone (TC) development via radial ventilation. A suite of experiments was conducted with different combinations of initial midlevel moisture and VWS environments. Two radial ventilation structures are documented. The first structure is positioned in a similar region as rainband activity and downdraft ventilation (documented in Part I) between heights of 0 and 3 km. Parcels associated with this first structure transport low–equivalent potential temperature air inward and downward left of shear and upshear to suppress convection. The second structure is associated with the vertical tilt of the vortex and storm-relative flow between heights of 5 and 9 km. Parcels associated with this second structure transport low–relative humidity air inward upshear and right of shear to suppress convection. Altogether, the modulating effects of radial ventilation on TC development are the inward transport of low–equivalent potential temperature air, as well as low-level radial outflow upshear, which aid in reducing the areal extent of strong upward motions, thereby reducing the vertical mass flux in the inner core, and stunting TC development.

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Michael S. Fischer, Brian H. Tang, Kristen L. Corbosiero, and Christopher M. Rozoff

Abstract

The relationship between tropical cyclone (TC) convective characteristics and TC intensity change is explored using infrared and passive microwave satellite imagery of TCs in the North Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins from 1989 to 2016. TC intensity change episodes were placed into one of four groups: rapid intensification (RI), slow intensification (SI), neutral (N), and weakening (W). To account for differences in the distributions of TC intensity among the intensity change groups, a normalization technique is introduced, which allows for the analysis of anomalous TC convective characteristics and their relationship to TC intensity change.

A composite analysis of normalized convective parameters shows anomalously cold infrared and 85-GHz brightness temperatures, as well as anomalously warm 37-GHz brightness temperatures, in the upshear quadrants of the TC are associated with increased rates of TC intensification, including RI. For RI episodes in the North Atlantic basin, an increase in anomalous liquid hydrometeor content precedes anomalous ice hydrometeor content by approximately 12 h, suggesting convection deep enough to produce robust ice scattering is a symptom of, rather than a precursor to, RI. In the eastern North Pacific basin, the amount of anomalous liquid and ice hydrometeors increases in tandem near the onset of RI.

Normalized infrared and passive microwave brightness temperatures can be utilized to skillfully predict episodes of RI, as the forecast skill of RI episodes using solely normalized convective parameters is comparable to the forecast skill of RI episodes by current operational statistical models.

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