Populated urban areas along many coastal regions are vulnerable to landfalling tropical cyclones (TCs). To the detriment of surface parameterizations in mesoscale models, the complexities of turbulence at high TC wind speeds in urban canopies are presently poorly understood. Thus, this study explores the impacts of urban morphology on TC-strength winds and boundary layer turbulence in landfalling TCs. To better quantify how urban structures interact with TC winds, large-eddy simulations (LESs) are conducted with the Cloud Model 1 (CM1). This implementation of CM1 includes immersed boundary conditions (IBCs) to represent buildings and eddy recycling to maintain realistic turbulent flow perturbations. Within the IBCs, an idealized coastal city with varying scales is introduced. TC winds impinge perpendicularly to the urbanized coastline. Numerical experiments show that buildings generate distinct, intricate flow patterns that vary significantly as the city structure is varied. Urban IBCs produce much stronger turbulent kinetic energy than is produced by conventional surface parameterizations. Strong effective eddy viscosity due to resolved eddy mixing is displayed in the wake of buildings within the urban canopy, while deep and enhanced effective eddy viscosity is present downstream. Such effects are not seen in a comparison LES using a simple surface parameterization with high roughness values. Wind tunneling effects in streamwise canyons enhance pedestrian-level winds well beyond what is possible without buildings. In the arena of regional mesoscale modeling, this type of LES framework with IBCs can be used to improve parameters in surface and boundary layer schemes to more accurately represent the drag coefficient and the eddy viscosity in landfalling TC boundary layers.
This is among the first large-eddy simulation model studies to examine the impacts of tropical cyclone–like winds around explicitly resolved buildings. This work is a step forward in bridging the gap between engineering studies that use computational fluid dynamics models or laboratory experiments for flow through cities and mesoscale model simulations of landfalling tropical cyclones that use surface parameterizations specialized for urban land use.