25th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology


A Climatology of Rapidly Intensifying Tropical Cyclones in the North Atlantic Basin, 1975-2000

Chris C. Robbins, NOAA/AOML/NHC/TPC, Miami, FL; and S. R. Stewart

Rapidly intensifying tropical cyclones pose a significant forecast problem to operational meteorologists. Unfortunately, the climatological nature of such systems for the North Atlantic basin is poorly understood and the formal literature offers very little insight. To partially fill this gap, a 25-year climatology (1975-2000) is being developed using the Atlantic Basin "Best Tracks" dataset maintained by the National Hurricane Center.

Previous studies have used 24-hour pressure changes in their definitions of "rapid intensification." However, preliminary findings show that the bulk of surface pressure falls appear to occur over relatively-short intervals of 6 to 12 hours. This implies that "periods" of rapid intensification may often be followed by periods of significantly slower deepening within a given 24-hour period and that using longer time periods in the definition of "rapid intensification" may cause a significant amount of this detail to be lost. Thus, since tropical cyclones are driven largely by convective processes, "rapid intensification" should be defined on convective time scales (six to twelve hours). If significant convection results in a short "period" of rapid intensification, then the amount of intensification the storm will ultimately achieve over the course of a pre-defined time period (24 hr, 36 hr, etc.) becomes a question of convective sustenance. As this study progresses, the statistics generated should guide us toward a better understanding of rapid intensification, the processes which drive it, and those which sustain it.

Poster Session 1, Tropical Cyclones, Large-scale Dynamics and Convection
Monday, 29 April 2002, 11:00 AM-12:30 PM

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