Analyzing tropical cyclone structures during secondary eyewall formation using aircraft in situ observations

Katharine E.D. Wunsch, Anthony C. Didlake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The dynamical mechanisms for secondary eyewall formation (SEF) in tropical cyclones (TCs) are not yet fully understood. Most hypotheses for SEF rely on the early presence of persistent and widespread rainband convection outside of the primary eyewall. This convection eventually coalesces into a secondary eyewall through both axisymmetric and asymmetric processes, but the extent and importance of these dynamical processes and their associated convective structures remain unclear. This study examines the evolution of axisymmetric and asymmetric structures in a composite analysis of Atlantic TCs from 1999 to 2015 using aircraft reconnaissance observations from the Extended Flight-Level Dataset for Tropical Cyclones (FLIGHT1). Compared to intensifying TCs that did not experience SEF, TCs undergoing SEF showed axisymmetric broadening of the outer wind field in the tangential wind and angular momentum profiles before SEF. Thermodynamic observations indicated features consistent with strengthening eyewall convection.We also analyzed TCs in shear-relative quadrants to examine the evolution of asymmetric kinematic and thermodynamic structures during SEF. Utilizing a new normalization technique based on the radii of both eyewalls, we isolated the structures surrounding the secondary eyewall before and during SEF. Using this technique, we found that kinematic structures of the developing secondary eyewall were most prominent in the left-of-shear half, and the thermodynamic structures of the secondary eyewall became more axisymmetric during SEF. Asymmetries developed in the primary eyewall thermodynamics as it decayed. Understanding the evolution of these observed structures characteristic to SEF will improve our ability to predict SEF and the resulting changes in TC intensity and structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3977-3993
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Analyzing tropical cyclone structures during secondary eyewall formation using aircraft in situ observations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this