skip to main content

Title: Composite Mesoscale Environmental Conditions Influencing Tornado Frequencies in Landfalling Tropical Cyclones

Spatial patterns of tropical cyclone tornadoes (TCTs), and their relationship to patterns of mesoscale predictors within U.S. landfalling tropical cyclones (LTCs) are investigated using multicase composites from 27 years of reanalysis data (1995–2021). For 72 cases of LTCs with wide-ranging TC intensities at landfall, daytime TCT frequency maxima are found in the northeast, right-front, and downshear-right quadrants when their composites are constructed in ground-relative, TC-heading relative, and environmental shear relative coordinates, respectively. TCT maxima are located near maxima of 10-m–700-hPa bulk wind difference (BWD), which are enhanced by the TC circulation. This proxy for bulk vertical shear in roughly the lowest 3 km is among the best predictors of maximum TCT frequency. Relative to other times, the position of maximum TCT frequency during the afternoon shifts ∼100 km outward from the LTC center toward larger MLCAPE values. Composites containing the strongest LTCs have the strongest maximum 10-m–700-hPa and 10-m–500-hPa BWDs (∼20 m s−1) with nearby maximum frequencies of TCTs. Corresponding composites containing weaker LTCs but still many TCTs, had bulk vertical shear values that were ∼20% smaller (∼16 m s−1). Additional composites of cases having similarly weak average LTC strength at landfall, but few or no TCTs, had both maximum bulk vertical shears that were an additional ∼20% lower (∼12 m s−1) and smaller MLCAPE. TCT environments occurring well inland are distinguished from others by having stronger westerly shear and a west–east-oriented baroclinic zone (i.e., north–south temperature gradient) that enhances mesoscale ascent and deep convection on the LTC’s east side.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
American Meteorological Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Weather and Forecasting
Medium: X Size: p. 2481-2508
["p. 2481-2508"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The FV3GFS is the current operational Global Forecast System (GFS) at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), which combines a finite-volume cubed sphere dynamical core (FV3) and GFS physics. In this study, FV3GFS is used to gain understanding of rapid intensification (RI) of tropical cyclones (TCs) in shear. The analysis demonstrates the importance of TC structure in a complex system like Hurricane Michael, which intensified to a category 5 hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico despite over 20 kt (10 m s−1) of vertical wind shear. Michael’s RI is examined using a global-nest FV3GFS ensemble with the nest at 3-km resolution. The ensemble shows a range of peak intensities from 77 to 159 kt (40–82 m s−1). Precipitation symmetry, vortex tilt, moisture, and other aspects of Michael’s evolution are compared through composites of stronger and weaker members. The 850–200-hPa vertical shear is 22 kt (11 m s−1) in the mean of both strong and weak members during the early stage. Tilt and moisture are two distinguishing factors between strong and weak members. The relationship between vortex tilt and humidification is complex, and other studies have shown both are important for sheared intensification. Here, it is shown that tilt reduction leads to upshear humidification and is thus a driving factor for intensification. A stronger initial vortex and early evolution of the vortex also appear to be the key to members that are able to resist the sheared environment.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract Shortly after 0600 UTC (midnight MDT) on 9 June 2020, a rapidly intensifying and elongating convective system produced a macroburst and extensive damage in the town of Akron on Colorado’s eastern Plains. Instantaneous winds were measured as high as 51.12 m s −1 at 2.3 m AGL from an eddy covariance (EC) tower, and a 50.45 m s −1 wind gust from an adjacent 10-m tower became the highest official thunderstorm wind gust ever measured in Colorado. Synoptic-scale storm motion was southerly, but surface winds were northerly in a post-frontal airmass, creating strong vertical wind shear. Extremely high-resolution temporal and spatial observations allow for a unique look at pressure and temperature tendencies accompanying the macroburst and reveal intriguing wave structures in the outflow. At 10-Hz frequency, the EC tower recorded a 5-hPa pressure surge in 19 seconds immediately following the strongest winds, and a 15-hPa pressure drop in the following three minutes. Surface temperature also rose 1.5°C in less than one minute, concurrent with the maximum wind gusts, and then fell sharply by 3.5°C in the following minute. Shifting wind direction observations and an NWS damage survey are suggestive of both radial outflow and a gust front passage, and model proximity soundings reveal a well-mixed surface layer topped by a strong inversion and large low-level vertical wind shear. Despite the greatest risk of severe winds forecast to be northeast of Colorado, convection-allowing model forecasts from 6-18 h in advance did show similar structures to what occurred, warranting further simulations to investigate the unique mesoscale and misoscale features associated with the macroburst. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Accurate prediction of tropical cyclone (TC) intensity is quite challenging due to multiple competing processes among the TC internal dynamics and the environment. Most previous studies have evaluated the environmental effects on TC intensity change from both internal dynamics and external influence. This study quantifies the environmental effects on TC intensity change using a simple dynamically based dynamical system (DBDS) model recently developed. In this simple model, the environmental effects are uniquely represented by a ventilation parameterB, which can be expressed as multiplicative of individual ventilation parameters of the corresponding environmental effects. Their individual ventilation parameters imply their relative importance to the bulk environmental ventilation effect and thus to the TC intensity change. Six environmental factors known to affect TC intensity change are evaluated in the DBDS model using machine learning approaches with the best track data for TCs over the North Atlantic, central, eastern, and western North Pacific and the Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction Scheme (SHIPS) dataset during 1982–2021. Results show that the deep-layer vertical wind shear (VWS) is the dominant ventilation factor to reduce the intrinsic TC intensification rate or to drive the TC weakening, with its ventilation parameter ranging between 0.5 and 0.8 when environmental VWS between 200 and 850 hPa is larger than 8 m s−1. Other environmental factors are generally secondary, with their respective ventilation parameters over 0.8. An interesting result is the strong dependence of the environmental effects on the stage of TC development.

    more » « less
  4. West African Sahel and Soudan extreme rainfall events are impactful when strong mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) produce large amounts of rainfall in short periods. NASA IMERG rainfall estimates and the ERA5 reanalysis are examined to understand where the top 100 highest 12Z – 12Z 24-h rainfall totals and MCS storm genesis occur, and to assess the relative importance of environmental conditions in their generation including the influence of atmospheric moisture and vertical wind shear. Most of the top 100 events are located south of 14°N over the Soudan. Events cluster over three regions, namely, Mali, Burkina Faso, and northern Nigeria. The associated MCSs are typically not locally generated, forming instead at distances greater than 100 km upstream. Composites reveal that a significant increase in atmospheric moisture content occurs prior to development, but there is no evidence of significant changes in the 600 – 925 hPa vertical wind shear. This indicates that changes in vertical wind shear are less influential in extreme storm development than atmospheric moisture preconditioning. The top 10 events are further evaluated. A change in these storms’ direction and speed near the maximum rainfall location is common, suggesting the MCSs are reorganizing around peak rainfall intensity time. Three atmospheric conditions are associated with these events. They are (1) moisture preconditioning of the atmosphere, (2) interaction of the storm in the wake of a region of anticyclonic flow, and (3) interaction of the storm in the wake of a region of anticyclonic flow and the Sahel/tropical dryline boundary. 
    more » « less
  5. null (Ed.)
    Abstract In this study, based on the 6-hourly tropical cyclone (TC) best track data and the ERA-Interim reanalysis data, statistical analyses as well as a machine learning approach, XGBoost, are used to identify and quantify factors that affect the overwater weakening rate (WR) of TCs over the western North Pacific (WNP) during 1980–2017. Statistical analyses show that the TC rapid weakening events usually occur when intense TCs cross regions with a sharp decrease in sea surface temperature (DSST) with relatively faster eastward or northward translational speeds, and move into regions with large environmental vertical wind shear (VWS) and dry conditions in the upshear-left quadrant. Results from XGBoost indicate that the relative intensity of TC (TC intensity normalized by its maximum potential intensity), DSST, and VWS are dominant factors determining TC WR, contributing 26.0%, 18.3%, and 14.9% to TC WR, and 9, 5, and 5 m s−1 day−1 to the variability of TC WR, respectively. Relative humidity in the upshear-left quadrant of VWS, zonal translational speed, divergence at 200 hPa, and meridional translational speed contribute 12.1%, 11.8%, 8.8%, and 8.1% to TC WR, respectively, but only contribute 2–3 m s−1 day−1 to the variability of TC WR individually. These findings suggest that the improved accurate analysis and prediction of the dominant factors may lead to substantial improvements in the prediction of TC WR. 
    more » « less