A Diagnostic Study of Two Intense Oceanic Cyclones

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Science, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York
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Abstract

A diagnostic study of two intense oceanic cyclones (16–18 November 1972 and 9–11 January 1982) along the east coast of North America is presented. Both cyclones formed along a strong low-level baroclinic zone and deepened in response to an approaching tropospheric short-wave trough aloft.

The 16–18 November 1972 storm developed along a Carolina coastal front in a region of enhanced low-level convergence and cyclonic vorticity generation favorable for incipient cyclogenesis. Significant oceanic heat and moisture fluxes northeast of the cyclone helped to enhance the low-level baroclinicity and to destabilize the warm, moist air mass along the cyclones’ path. Explosive deepening [35 mb(12 h)−1] commenced when a rather ordinary midtropospheric trough was about 300 km upstream of the surface low. A noteworthy aspect of the storm was the existence of deep convection near the center throughout the deepening phase and the exceptionally tight inner pressure gradient, suggestive of the role of diabatic process in the extreme development.

The 9–11 January 1982 cyclone formed and deepened in response to a vigorous mid- and upper-tropospheric trough/jet-streak system of greater intensity and large-scale baroclinicity than seen for the November 1972 cyclone. Oceanic heat fluxes were small except in the cyclones' wake. No widespread areas of convection and convective instability were observed as the cyclone explosively deepened. The 1982 storm achieved peak intensity over cold water while the 1972 storm reached maximum strength over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. Upper-level frontogenesis may have contributed to the intensity of the upper-tropospheric trough and ensuing downstream development in the 1982 case.

Abstract

A diagnostic study of two intense oceanic cyclones (16–18 November 1972 and 9–11 January 1982) along the east coast of North America is presented. Both cyclones formed along a strong low-level baroclinic zone and deepened in response to an approaching tropospheric short-wave trough aloft.

The 16–18 November 1972 storm developed along a Carolina coastal front in a region of enhanced low-level convergence and cyclonic vorticity generation favorable for incipient cyclogenesis. Significant oceanic heat and moisture fluxes northeast of the cyclone helped to enhance the low-level baroclinicity and to destabilize the warm, moist air mass along the cyclones’ path. Explosive deepening [35 mb(12 h)−1] commenced when a rather ordinary midtropospheric trough was about 300 km upstream of the surface low. A noteworthy aspect of the storm was the existence of deep convection near the center throughout the deepening phase and the exceptionally tight inner pressure gradient, suggestive of the role of diabatic process in the extreme development.

The 9–11 January 1982 cyclone formed and deepened in response to a vigorous mid- and upper-tropospheric trough/jet-streak system of greater intensity and large-scale baroclinicity than seen for the November 1972 cyclone. Oceanic heat fluxes were small except in the cyclones' wake. No widespread areas of convection and convective instability were observed as the cyclone explosively deepened. The 1982 storm achieved peak intensity over cold water while the 1972 storm reached maximum strength over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. Upper-level frontogenesis may have contributed to the intensity of the upper-tropospheric trough and ensuing downstream development in the 1982 case.

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