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Dian Wen
,
Ying Li
,
Da-Lin Zhang
,
Lin Xue
, and
Na Wei

Abstract

A statistical analysis of tropical upper-tropospheric trough (TUTT) cells over the western North Pacific Ocean (WNP) during 2006 to 2015 is performed using the NCEP Final reanalysis. A total of 369 TUTT-cell events or 6836 TUTT cells are identified, with a peak frequency in July. Most TUTT cells form to the east of 150°E and then move southwestward with a mean speed of 6.6 m s−1 and a mean life span of 4.4 days. About 75% of the TUTT cells have radii of <500 km with 200-hPa central heights of <1239.4 dam. In general, TUTT cells exhibit negative height anomalies above 450 hPa, with their peak amplitudes at 200 hPa, pronounced cold anomalies in the 650–200-hPa layer, and significant cyclonic vorticity in the 550–125-hPa layer. A comparison of the composite TUTT cells among the eastern, central, and western WNP areas shows the generation of an intense cold-cored vortex as a result of the southward penetration of a midlatitude trough into a climatological TUTT over the eastern WNP region. The TUTT cell with pronounced rotation is cut off from the midlatitude westerlies after moving to the central WNP region, where it enters its mature phase, under the influence of northeasterly flow. The TUTT cell weakens in rotation and shrinks in size, diminishing within the TUTT after arriving at the western WNP region. Results suggest that, although most TUTT cells may diminish before reaching the western WNP, their vertical influences may extend to the surface layer and last longer than their signals at 200 hPa.

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Nannan Qin
,
Da-Lin Zhang
, and
Ying Li

Abstract

It is well known that hurricane intensification is often accompanied by continuous contraction of the radius of maximum wind (RMW) and eyewall size. However, a few recent studies have shown rapid and then slow contraction of the RMW/eyewall size prior to the onset and during the early stages of rapid intensification (RI) of hurricanes, respectively, but a steady state in the RMW (S-RMW) and eyewall size during the later stages of RI. In this study, a statistical analysis of S-RMWs associated with rapidly intensifying hurricanes is performed using the extended best-track dataset during 1990–2014 in order to examine how frequently, and at what intensity and size, the S-RMW structure tends to occur. Results show that about 53% of the 139 RI events of 24-h duration associated with 55 rapidly intensifying hurricanes exhibit S-RMWs, and that the percentage of the S-RMW events increases to 69% when RI events are evaluated at 12-h intervals, based on a new RI rate definition of 10 m s−1 (12 h)−1; both results satisfy the Student’s t tests with confidence levels of over 95%. In general, S-RMWs tend to appear more frequently in more intense storms and when their RMWs are contracted to less than 50 km. This work suggests a new fruitful research area in studying the RI of hurricanes with S-RMWs.

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Yueting Gong
,
Ying Li
, and
Da-Lin Zhang

Abstract

Tropical cyclones (TCs) tend to change translation direction and speed when moving across Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range (CMR), which makes forecasting of landfalling points a challenging task. This study examines the statistical characteristics of unusual TC tracks around Taiwan Island during the 66-yr period of 1949–2014. Results show that 1) about 10% more TCs were deflected to the right than to the left as they moved across the CMR, but with more occurrences of the latter on Taiwan’s eastern coast and southern strait; 2) TCs around Taiwan Island moved slower than the average speed over the western North Pacific Ocean but then exhibited anomalous acceleration along Taiwan’s eastern coast and anomalous deceleration over the southern Taiwan Strait; 3) about 33% of TCs passing the island were accompanied by terrain-induced secondary low pressure centers (SCs), more favored in the northwestern, southwestern, and southeastern quadrants, with the TC–SC separation distance varying from 33 to 643 km; 4) about 36% of landfalling TCs experienced discontinuous tracks, with an average separation distance of 141 km at the time when TC centers were replaced by SCs, and smaller Froude numbers than those associated with continuous-tracking TCs; and 5) a total of 12 TCs had looping movements near Taiwan Island, most of which were accompanied by SCs on their southern or western sides. Results also indicate that a stronger SC was likely to take place when a stronger TC approached the CMR with a shorter separation distance and that a weaker SC was likely to take place when a weaker TC approached the CMR with a longer separation distance.

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Wei Ye
,
Ying Li
, and
Da-Lin Zhang

Abstract

In this study, the development of an extreme precipitation event along the southeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) by the approach of Tropical Cyclone (TC) Rashmi (2008) from the Bay of Bengal is examined using a global reanalysis and all available observations. Results show the importance of an anomalous southerly flow, resulting from the merging of Rashmi into a meridionally deep trough at the western periphery of a subtropical high, in steering the storm and transporting tropical warm–moist air, thereby supplying necessary moisture for precipitation production over the TP. A mesoscale data analysis reveals that (i) the Rashmi vortex maintained its TC identity during its northward movement in the warm sector with weak-gradient flows; (ii) the extreme precipitation event occurred under potentially stable conditions; (iii) topographical uplifting of the southerly warm–moist air, enhanced by the approaching vortex with some degree of slantwise instability, led to the development of heavy to extreme precipitation along the southeastern margin of the TP; and (iv) the most influential uplifting of the intense vortex flows carrying ample moisture over steep topography favored the generation of the record-breaking daily snowfall of 98 mm (in water depth), and daily precipitation of 87 mm with rain–snow–rain changeovers at two high-elevation stations, respectively. The extreme precipitation and phase changeovers could be uncovered by an unusual upper-air sounding that shows a profound saturated layer from the surface to upper troposphere with a moist adiabatic upper 100-hPa layer and a bottom 100-hPa melting layer. The results appear to have important implications to the forecast of TC-related heavy precipitation over high mountains.

Significance Statement

This study attempts to gain insight into the multiscale dynamical processes leading to the development of an extreme precipitation event over the southeastern margin of the Tibet Plateau as a Bay of Bengal tropical cyclone (TC) approached. Results show (i) the importance of an anomalous southerly flow with a wide zonal span in steering the relatively large-sized TC and transporting necessary moisture into the region; and (ii) the subsequent uplifting of the warm and moist TC vortex by steep topography, producing the extreme precipitation event under potentially stable conditions, especially the record-breaking daily snowfall of 98 mm (in water depth). The results have important implications to the forecast of TC-related heavy precipitation over the Tibet Plateau and other high mountainous regions.

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Peter S. Ray
,
Alan Robinson
, and
Ying Lin

Abstract

During the Taiwan Area Mesoscale Experiment (TAMEX), three Doppler radars complemented enhanced surface and upper-air observations. The focus of the experiment was to better understand the interaction of the terrain with precipitation systems in the production of the important heavy rainfall. The intensive operational period (IOP) number 8 extended from 1400 IST (local standard time) 7 June 1987 until 0800 LST 9 June 1987. During this time, a mesoscale convective system (MCS) formed in the Straits of Taiwan and moved inland. It was interrogated by many observing instruments, including three Doppler radars, over a 6-h period. During this time the front moved through the radar network. The front was shallow and the precipitation widespread, both ahead of and behind the front. The front was only 1.6-km deep over a distance of 100 km.

Using velocity-azimuth display (VAD) data, a portion of the frontogenetic function was computed during the times the front was in the vicinity of the radar. The increase in both convergence and deformation contributed to large values of the frontogenetic function.

Dynamic retrieval was also attempted on the data during the time when the front was most favorably located for analysis. The results are very similar to what has been observed both for tropical squall lines and for midlatitude squall lines.

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Xuerong Zhang
,
Ying Li
,
Da-Lin Zhang
, and
Lianshou Chen

Abstract

Despite steady improvements in tropical cyclone (TC) track forecasts, it still remains challenging to predict unusual TC tracks (UNTKs), such as the tracks of sharp turning or looping TCs, especially after they move close to coastal waters. In this study 1059 UNTK events associated with 564 TCs are identified from a total of 1320 TCs, occurring in the vicinity of China’s coastal waters, during the 65-yr period of 1949–2013, using the best-track data archived at the China Meteorological Administration’s Shanghai Typhoon Institute. These UNTK events are then categorized into seven types of tracks—sharp westward turning (169), sharp eastward turning (86), sharp northward turning (223), sharp southward turning (46), looping (153), rotating (199), and zigzagging (183)—on the basis of an improved UNTK classification scheme. Results show significant annual variability of unusual tracking TCs, ranging between 2 and 18 per year, many of which experience more than one UNTK event in the same or different UNTK types during their life spans. The monthly distribution of the UNTK events resembles that of TCs, with more occurring in June–November. An analysis of their spatial distributions reveals that all of the UNTK events tend to take place in the areas to the south of 30°N, most frequently in the South China Sea and to the east of the Philippines. The results suggest that more attention be paid to the improved understanding and prediction of UNTK events so that the current positive trend in TC track forecast accuracy can continue for many years to come.

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Yuh-Lang Lin
,
Nicholas C. Witcraft
, and
Ying-Hwa Kuo

Abstract

In this study, the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research (PSU–NCAR) Mesoscale Model (MM5) was used to simulate Supertyphoon Bilis (in 2000) and Typhoon Toraji (in 2001) in order to investigate the dynamics of track deflection caused by the Central Mountain Range (CMR) of Taiwan. The MM5 predicted the track of each storm reasonably well. Bilis was stronger and had a relatively faster forward motion, which helped make the track continuous as it crossed the CMR. The use of a “bogus” vortex in the initialization process helped produce a storm closer to the observed strength. Bilis is a classic example of a typhoon crossing Taiwan with a continuous track. For comparison, Typhoon Toraji, a typical typhoon having a discontinuous track, was also studied. Toraji was weaker and had a relatively slower forward speed, which prevented the original low center from crossing over the CMR and forced more air parcels to go around the northern tip of the CMR. As a result, it produced a vortex and a secondary low center on the lee. Potential vorticity banners on the north side of the CMR acted to organize the secondary low and the lee vortex. With time, the low-level circulation extended into the upper levels, completing the formation of the secondary center. Remnants of the initial center crossed over the CMR and were entrained into the secondary center. Nondimensional control parameters for track continuity and deflection from idealized studies are calculated for Bilis and Toraji. The results are consistent with the theory proposed in Lin et al. For tropical cyclones (TCs) approaching Taiwan from the southeast, the conceptual model proposed by Lin et al. for continuous and discontinuous tracks was applied. For continuous tracks over the CMR, the blocking effect on the outer circulation of the vortex is weak and the vorticity advection around the northern tip is strong due to an intense TC. Weak TCs tend to be totally blocked by the CMR.

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Ying Lin
,
Peter S. Ray
, and
Kenneth W. Johnson

Abstract

A method is developed to initialize convective storm simulations with Doppler radar-derived fields. Input fields for initialization include velocity, rainwater derived from radar reflectivity, and pressure and temperature fields obtained through thermodynamic retrieval. A procedure has been developed to fill in missing wind data, followed by a variational adjustment to the filled wind field to minimize “shocks” that would otherwise cause the simulated fields to deteriorate rapidly.

A series of experiments using data from a simulated storm establishes the feasibility of the initialization method. Multiple-Doppler radar observations from the 20 May 1977 Del City tornadic storm are used for the initialization experiments. Simulation results are shown and compared to observations taken at a later time. The simulated storm shows good agreement with the subsequent observations, though the simulated storm appears to be evolving faster than observed. Possible reasons for the discrepancies are discussed.

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Wan-Shu Wu
,
David F. Parrish
,
Eric Rogers
, and
Ying Lin

Abstract

At the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, the global ensemble forecasts from the ensemble Kalman filter scheme in the Global Forecast System are applied in a regional three-dimensional (3D) and a four dimensional (4D) ensemble–variational (EnVar) data assimilation system. The application is a one-way variational method using hybrid static and ensemble error covariances. To enhance impact, three new features have been added to the existing EnVar system in the Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI). First, the constant coefficients that assign relative weight between the ensemble and static background error are now allowed to vary in the vertical. Second, a new formulation is introduced for the ensemble contribution to the analysis surface pressure. Finally, in order to make use of the information in the ensemble mean that is disregarded in the existing EnVar in GSI, the trajectory correction, a novel approach, is introduced. Relative to the application of a 3D variational data assimilation algorithm, a clear positive impact on 1–3-day forecasts is realized when applying 3DEnVar analyses in the North American Mesoscale Forecast System (NAM). The 3DEnVar DA system was operationally implemented in the NAM Data Assimilation System in August 2014. Application of a 4DEnVar algorithm is shown to further improve forecast accuracy relative to the 3DEnVar. The approach described in this paper effectively combines contributions from both the regional and the global forecast systems to produce the initial conditions for the regional NAM system.

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Chun-Chieh Wu
,
Chia-Ying Lee
, and
I-I. Lin

Abstract

The rapid intensification of Hurricane Katrina followed by the devastation of the U.S. Gulf States highlights the critical role played by an upper-oceanic thermal structure (such as the ocean eddy or Loop Current) in affecting the development of tropical cyclones. In this paper, the impact of the ocean eddy on tropical cyclone intensity is investigated using a simple hurricane–ocean coupled model. Numerical experiments with different oceanic thermal structures are designed to elucidate the responses of tropical cyclones to the ocean eddy and the effects of tropical cyclones on the ocean. This simple model shows that rapid intensification occurs as a storm encounters the ocean eddy because of enhanced heat flux. While strong winds usually cause strong mixing in the mixed layer and thus cool down the sea surface, negative feedback to the storm intensity of this kind is limited by the presence of a warm ocean eddy, which provides an insulating effect against the storm-induced mixing and cooling.

Two eddy factors, F EDDY-S and F EDDY-T, are defined to evaluate the effect of the eddy on tropical cyclone intensity. The efficiency of the eddy feedback effect depends on both the oceanic structure and other environmental parameters, including properties of the tropical cyclone. Analysis of the functionality of F EDDY-T shows that the mixed layer depth associated with either the large-scale ocean or the eddy is the most important factor in determining the magnitude of eddy feedback effects. Next to them are the storm’s translation speed and the ambient relative humidity.

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