18C.1 Atlantic reconnaissance vortex message climatology and composites and their use in characterizing eyewall cycles

Friday, 2 May 2008: 10:15 AM
Palms H (Wyndham Orlando Resort)
David Joseph Piech, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL; and R. Hart

There has been great energy focused on tropical cyclone intensity forecasting over the past thirty years. Toward the goal of providing more accurate intensity forecasts, the role of the environment of a tropical storm has been studied at great length over the past few years while the storm itself has not. There remains considerable work left toward understanding how the tropical cyclone structure itself can be used to aid intensity forecasting. One step toward this goal for the Atlantic is by dissecting a climatology of reconnaissance vortex message reports from the Atlantic basin between 1989 and 2005. Such an analysis will permit the comparison of tropical cyclone core structure measurements to know future intensity change.

This vortex message data, which is collected from dropsondes and radar during flights into tropical disturbances, includes eye size, pressure, eye temperature, eye dewpoint, maximum flight level winds and other pertinent information. The number of occurrences for each vortex message characteristic as well as frequency plots of eye type, Julian day, latitude, longitude, temperature, dewpoint, and intensity change as a function of mean sea level pressure (MSLP) and eye size were created. The composite mean eyewall cycle was analyzed, along with the cycles of concentric eyewalls and elliptical eyewalls.

Based on this vortex message climatology and analysis, an eyewall phase diagram was developed that graphically shows the evolution of a storm. These eyewall phase diagrams show how eyewall cycles evolve in time using mean MSLP, mean eye size, concentric eyewall frequency, and elliptical eyewall frequency data. Case studies include analysis of a storm undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle (Rita 2005), a rapidly weakening storm (Charley 2004), and a rapidly intensifying storm (Wilma 2005).

It was discovered in this study that core storm data collected from vortex data messages could be used to confirm theories on tropical cyclone intensity. Preliminary attempts at simple forecasts comparing eye characteristics and future intensity change were done. Indeed, short-term forecasts of intensity change should utilize storm-specific structure, beginning with an analysis of that structure in intensification versus weakening events. Further work involving pattern matching trajectories and trajectory segments to forecast future storm trajectory in the eyewall phase diagram may lead to helpful analog tropical cyclone intensity forecast guidance.

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