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  1. Abstract

    This study uses a recently developed airborne Doppler radar database to explore how vortex misalignment is related to tropical cyclone (TC) precipitation structure and intensity change. It is found that for relatively weak TCs, defined here as storms with a peak 10-m wind of 65 kt (1 kt = 0.51 m s−1) or less, the magnitude of vortex tilt is closely linked to the rate of subsequent TC intensity change, especially over the next 12–36 h. In strong TCs, defined as storms with a peak 10-m wind greater than 65 kt, vortex tilt magnitude is only weakly correlated with TC intensity change. Based on these findings, this study focuses on how vortex tilt is related to TC precipitation structure and intensity change in weak TCs. To illustrate how the TC precipitation structure is related to the magnitude of vortex misalignment, weak TCs are divided into two groups: small-tilt and large-tilt TCs. In large-tilt TCs, storms display a relatively large radius of maximum wind, the precipitation structure is asymmetric, and convection occurs more frequently near the midtropospheric TC center than the lower-tropospheric TC center. Alternatively, small-tilt TCs exhibit a greater areal coverage of precipitation inward of a relatively small radius of maximum wind. Greater rates of TC intensification, including rapid intensification, are shown to occur preferentially for TCs with greater vertical alignment and storms in relatively favorable environments.

    Significance Statement

    Accurately predicting tropical cyclone (TC) intensity change is challenging. This is particularly true for storms that undergo rapid intensity changes. Recent numerical modeling studies have suggested that vortex vertical alignment commonly precedes the onset of rapid intensification; however, this consensus is not unanimous. Until now, there has not been a systematic observational analysis of the relationship between vortex misalignment and TC intensity change. This study addresses this gap using a recently developed airborne radar database. We show that the degree of vortex misalignment is a useful predictor for TC intensity change, but primarily for weak storms. In these cases, more aligned TCs exhibit precipitation patterns that favor greater intensification rates. Future work should explore the causes of changes in vortex alignment.

     
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  2. Abstract

    Recent studies have suggested that the structure of tropical cyclones (TCs), especially the upper‐level clouds as indicated by satellite infrared brightness temperatures and precipitation, fluctuates with the diurnal cycle. The diurnal cycle of the low‐level structure, including the boundary layer, has not yet been investigated with observations. This study analyzes data from 2242 GPS dropsondes collected in mature hurricanes to investigate the diurnal variation of the mean boundary layer structure. A composite analysis is conducted to compare the kinematic and thermodynamic structure during nighttime (0–6 local time) vs in the afternoon (12–18 local time). The composites show that much stronger inflow occurs during nighttime and the moist entropy is also larger than that in the daytime. Grouping the dropsonde data into 6‐h time windows relative to the local time shows a clear diurnal signal of boundary layer inflow. The amplitude of the diurnal signal is largest at a radius of 250–500 km.

     
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