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Jenni L. Evans
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Jenni L. Evans

Abstract

Increased occurrence of more intense tropical storms intruding further poleward has been foreshadowed as one of the potential consequences of global warming. This scenario is based almost entirely on the general circulation model predictions of warmer sea surface temperature (SST) with increasing levels of atmospheric C02 and some theories of tropical cyclone intensification that support the notion of more intense systems with warmer SST. Whether storms are able to achieve this theoretically determined more intense state depends on whether the temperature of the underlying water is the dominant factor in tropical cyclone intensification. An examination of the historical data record in a number of ocean basins is used to identify the relative importance of SST in the tropical cyclone intensification process. The results reveal that SST alone is an inadequate predictor of tropical cyclone intensity. Other factors known to affect tropical cyclone frequency and intensity are discussed.

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Jenni L. Evans
and
Mark P. Guishard

Abstract

Subtropical cyclones (ST) have only recently gained attention as damaging weather systems. A set of criteria for identifying and classifying these systems is introduced here and employed to identify 18 ST cases forming in the 1999–2004 hurricane seasons. To be classified as an ST, these systems must have near-surface gale-force winds and show hybrid structure for more than one diurnal cycle. The 18 ST cases are partitioned into four classes based upon their genesis environments. Genesis over waters with SST in excess of 25°C is observed in almost 80% of warm-season cases, in contrast with only 55% in an ST climatology presented in a companion study. The low-shear magnitude constraint recognized for tropical cyclogenesis is less apparent for ST formation with over 50% forming in the two partitions characterized by shear in excess of 10 m s−1. This relatively high-shear environment corresponds to equatorward intrusion of upper troughs over the relatively warm SST present in the mid–late hurricane season. Anomaly composites confirm that ST genesis is associated with the intrusion of an upper trough in the westerlies into a region of relatively warm SST and weak static stability, with a corresponding reduction in the environmental shear near the time of ST genesis. These conditions correspond well with the conditions for tropical transition identified by Davis and Bosart. Indeed, these systems exhibit a propensity to continue development into a tropical cyclone; 80% eventually became named tropical systems. This result is consistent with a recent ST climatology but had not been widely recognized previously. This raises the possibility that tropical storms evolving from ST may have been overlooked or their tracks truncated in the National Hurricane Center Hurricane Database (HURDAT).

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Jenni L. Evans
and
Robert E. Hart

Abstract

Forty-six percent of Atlantic tropical storms undergo a process of extratropical transition (ET) in which the storm evolves from a tropical cyclone to a baroclinic system. In this paper, the structural evolution of a base set of 61 Atlantic tropical cyclones that underwent extratropical transition between 1979 and 1993 is examined. Objective indicators for the onset and completion of transition are empirically determined using National Hurricane Center (NHC) best-track data, ECMWF 1.125° × 1.125° reanalyses, and operational NCEP Aviation Model (AVN) and U.S. Navy Operational Global Atmospheric Prediction System (NOGAPS) numerical analyses. An independent set of storms from 1998 to 2001 are used to provide a preliminary evaluation of the proposed onset and completion diagnostics.

Extratropical transition onset is declared when the storm becomes consistently asymmetric, as measured by the 900–600-hPa thickness asymmetry centered on the storm track. Completion of the ET process is identified using a measure of the thermal wind over the same layer. These diagnostics are consistent with the definitions of tropical and baroclinic cyclones and are readily calculable using operational analyses. Comparisons of these objective measures of ET timing with more detailed three-dimensional analyses and NHC classifications show good agreement.

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Sytske K. Kimball
and
Jenni L. Evans

Abstract

A three-dimensional, nonhydrostatic, fine-resolution model, with explicitly resolved convective processes, is used to investigate the evolution of (a) a hurricane in two sheared flows, and (b) a hurricane interacting with four different upper-level lows. The negative impact of vertical shear on hurricane intensification is confirmed. The hurricanes display asymmetries that are most pronounced in higher shear flow. In both shear cases, the hurricane asymmetries seem to be related to a single upper-tropospheric outflow jet forcing convective activity below its right entrance region. Weak subsidence is confined to only part of the eye. Less eye subsidence leads to less inner-core warming, and hence a smaller fall in central surface pressure. A hurricane in zero flow (control) displays subsidence in the entire eye leading to a symmetric storm with a deep, strong warm core temperature anomaly and lower central surface pressure. In the weak shear and control cases, the radius of maximum wind (RMW) contracts as the storms intensifies via the mechanism of “symmetric intensification.” In the high-shear case the RMW and intensity remain almost steady.

When hurricanes interact with troughs, asymmetries are evident in the hurricanes and their RMWs expand as the storms slowly intensify. During the interaction, the troughs are deformed by the hurricane flow. Remnants of the deformed troughs prevent an outflow channel from developing on the eastern side of the hurricanes, hampering storm intensification in three of the four cases. In the fourth case, a strong and shallow trough merges with the hurricane causing a three-dimensional split of the trough, reduction of vertical shear over the vortex, followed by rapid intensification and RMW contraction. This vortex reaches the highest intensity of all four trough-interaction cases and comes close in intensity to the comparable no-trough case.

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Aaron S. Pratt
and
Jenni L. Evans

Abstract

Tropical cyclones have devastating impacts on countries across large parts of the globe, including the Atlantic basin. Thus, forecasting of the genesis of Atlantic tropical cyclones is important, but this problem remains a challenge for researchers and forecasters due to the variety of weather systems that can lead to tropical cyclogenesis (e.g., stalled frontal boundaries, African easterly waves, and extratropical cyclones), as well as the role of the surrounding environment in promoting or inhibiting the development into a tropical depression and beyond. In the North Atlantic, the effects of the Saharan air layer (SAL), a hot, dry dusty layer that moves into the eastern Atlantic basin, must be taken into account when forecasting whether genesis will occur. There are several characteristics of SAL that impact tropical cyclones (decreased midtropospheric moisture, increased midlevel shear, and enhanced stability). The purpose of this study is to examine the forecasting skill of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Global Forecasting System (GFS) model for the 2002 and 2003 Atlantic hurricane seasons, with particular regard paid to possible SAL effects on model genesis forecast accuracy. Cyclone phase space analyses of GFS 6-hourly forecasts were divided into three possible outcomes: S (successful forecasts that verified in cyclogenesis), F1 (cyclogenesis events that were not forecast to occur), and F2 (forecasted cyclogenesis that did not occur). The spatial variabilities of these outcomes for the early, middle, and late season were analyzed for both years, as well as the background environmental conditions. The large number of F2 forecasts that were seen in both years can be partly explained by the GFS model not capturing the detrimental effects of the SAL on cyclogenesis.

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Alex M. Kowaleski
and
Jenni L. Evans

Abstract

Tropical cyclone ensemble track forecasts from 153 initialization times during 2017–18 are clustered using regression mixture models. Clustering is performed on a four-ensemble dataset [ECMWF + GEFS + UKMET + CMC (EGUC)], and a three-ensemble dataset that excludes the CMC (EGU). For both datasets, five-cluster partitions are selected to analyze, and the relationship between cluster properties (size, ensemble composition) and 96–144-h cluster-mean error is evaluated. For both datasets, small clusters produce very large errors, with the least populous cluster producing the largest error in more than 50% of forecasts. The mean of the most populous EGUC cluster outperforms the most accurate (EGU) ensemble mean in only 43% of forecasts; however, when the most populous EGUC cluster from each forecast contains ≥30% of the ensemble population, its average cluster-mean error is significantly reduced compared to when the most populous cluster is smaller. Forecasts with a highly populous EGUC cluster also appear to have smaller EGUC-, EGU-, and ECMWF-mean errors. Cluster-mean errors also vary substantially by the ensembles composing the cluster. The most accurate clusters are EGUC clusters that contain threshold memberships of ECMWF, GEFS, and UKMET, but not CMC. The elevated accuracy of EGUC CMC-excluding clusters indicates the potential utility of including the CMC in clustering, despite its large ensemble-mean errors. Pruning ensembles by removing members that belong to small clusters reduces 96–144-h forecast errors for both EGUC and EGU clustering. For five-cluster partitions, a pruning threshold of 10% affects 49% and 35% of EGUC and EGU ensembles, respectively, improving 69%–74% of the forecasts affected by pruning.

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Jenni L. Evans
and
Robert E. Shemo

Abstract

A fully automated, objective classification system has been developed to analyze infrared satellite imagery. This automated system facilitates tracking and categorization of convective weather systems into various classes. The classes chosen reflect the maximum degree of organization attained by each weather system. Four classes of convective weather system are defined; tropical cyclones (TS; including prestorm clusters through to decaying storms), mesoscale convective complexes (MCC), convective cloud clusters (CCC), and disorganized shortlived convection (DSL). Systems are identified, tracked, and then classified. If a system satisfies the criteria for any of the organized convection classes (TS, MCC, or CCC) for at least two time periods, the entire track is allocated to that class. In cases where a system satisfies the criteria for more than one type of organized convection (commonly MCC and CCC), it is assigned to the “most organized” class (in this case, MCC). Thus, the characteristics of each class incorporate the life cycles of systems that satisfy the imposed criteria for at least a 6-h period.

Two satellite infrared-based (IR) rain-rate algorithms are applied to the convective areas in order to obtain precipitation amounts for the various classes of convection. The domain of interest extends from the eastern Pacific margin to the African coast (15°W) and 40°N–40°S.

In addition to the IR data, rain rates derived from Special Sensor Microwave/Imager data are compared with the infrared retrieved rain rates at available times for a subset of each of the three organized convection classes. Rainfall amounts obtained from these infrared algorithms are also compared with ground-based station observations over Florida. Comparison of the inferred rainfall with station data reveals that the TS precipitation is in approximate agreement (in the mean), whereas the precipitation contributions from the other forms of convection are somewhat overestimated. DSL is overestimated the most and CCCs are overestimated the least.

According to the infrared-based rain-rate algorithms, DSLs (short-lived systems) contribute the most total (basinwide, annual) precipitation, CCCs contribute the second largest amount, MCCs are third in the contribution of precipitation, and TSs contribute the least to the total precipitation.

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Greg J. Holland
and
Jenni L. Evans

Abstract

The interactions between a barotropic vortex and an idealized subtropical ridge environment on a beta plane are examined and compared to the well-documented case of a single vortex with no environmental flow. First, the problems and advantages of several potential partitioning methods are discussed and then a three-part partition is chosen. Substantial variations are found from the single vortex case. In particular, the familiar gyres associated with the propagation of a single vortex are markedly distorted and relocated by the environment.

A vorticity budget is presented to help isolate the physical mechanisms. This analysis indicates that the major processes are associated with interactions with the gradients of absolute vorticity in the environment. Other nonlinear mechanisms can also be of significance in specific cases.

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Robert E. Hart
and
Jenni L. Evans

Abstract

For over a century it has been known that each vortex in a multiple vortex configuration will move in response to the other vortices. However, despite advances since that time, the complexities of multiple vortex scenarios when sheared environments are present are still not completely understood. The interaction of binary vortices within horizontal environmental shear is explored here through shallow water simulations on a β plane. Due to nonlinear feedbacks, the combination of environmental vorticity (or vorticity gradient) and shear, as well as the multiple vortex situation, results in a more complicated track than for a storm experiencing any individual component. Despite the complexity of these vortex–environment interactions, the use of previous single-vortex studies greatly aids interpretation. Centroid-relative motion of the individual vortices is considered, as well as the propagation of the vortex pair centroid, to understand motion effects of the different vortex–environment combinations.

As the vortices interact, vortex Rossby waves are generated through distortion of the symmetric vorticity field by the opposing vortex. Initially, the high-frequency waves have an insignificant effect upon vortex intensity or propagation, and β-induced wavenumber one asymmetry dominates as expected. However, as the waves approach a critical radius (ζ = 0), wave potential vorticity filamentation and stretching by the circulation of the adjacent vortex leads to a coupling of the two vortices. This vortex coupling results in enhanced propagation speeds of the two vortices proportional to the effective size of the dual-vortex system.

The sign of vorticity of the environmental flow can act to enhance or negate β-drift such that single- or dual-vortex propagation is altered. Further, when environmental vorticity is present, the rate of mutual orbit from Fujiwhara rotation is altered. When the environmental flow is cyclonic, the cyclonic mutual rotation of the vortices is accelerated. Conversely, when the environmental flow is anticyclonic, the mutual rotation of the vortices is substantially decelerated, but remains cyclonic.

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