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John R. Gyakum, John R. Anderson, Richard H. Grumm, and Elissa L. Gruner


An eight year sample of cold-season (1 October through 31 March) extratropical cyclones in the, Pacific Ocean basin is used to study central pressure changes and life cycle characteristics.

We find that over 90% of the cyclones passing through the area of the Kuroshio Current intensify in this region. Corresponding percentages in excess of 60% extend from the Kuroshio, south of 45°N, eastward to 130°W. Mean 24-h central pressure falls of all cyclones exceed 9 mb through the entire basin west of 140°W in the latitude band 30° to 50°N.

A statistical analysis of 24-h central pressure changes is performed on all cyclones within our domain. A frequency distribution of 1996 cases of 24-h maximum deepening reveals statistically significant departures from a Gaussian distribution, with the coefficient of skewness substantially negative. We also find similarly significant departures from normal in a frequency distribution of all 24-h central pressure changes, in spite of the fact that this distribution would be expected to have relatively fewer nonlinear interactions of processes associated with maximum deepening. A stratification of these data into ten degree latitude bands reveals that the ocean-dominated areas south of 60°N all have significant departures from the normal distributions with significantly large negative values of skewness. The land and ice-dominated region between 60° and 70°N has a deepening rate distribution that is approximately Gaussian with coefficients of skewness and kurtosis within the confidence limits of a normal distribution. These results suggest that the underlying ocean surface may be responsible for the significant departures of the pressure change distribution from a normal distribution.

We find that explosively developing cyclones (defined as those systems whose central pressure falls at least 24 mb in 24 h at 45°N) have longer lifetimes than the more conventional lows. Approximately 74% of the explosive cyclones last for at least four days. Only 21% of the nonexplosive cases exist for as long as four days. The vast majority of rapid deepeners commence their maximum intensification within 24 h of their initial formation. Thus, a correct analysis and forecast of a newly formed cyclone appears crucial to a successful explosive cyclone simulation.

Although cyclone formation areas cover vast areas of the Pacific, especially those east of Japan, south of Alaska, and the surroundings of the Kamchatka Peninsula, explosive cyclone formation positions are almost exclusively south of 50°N, concentrated east of the Asiatic continent, and in an area between 150° and 160°W. The “bomb” maximum deepening positions are located in areas slightly to the north and east of their formation positions. Dissipation positions, while concentrated in the Gulf of Alaska, the northeast Pacific, and in an area west of Kamchatka for all systems, are almost exclusively confined to areas north of 50°N for the rapidly deepening cyclones.

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