Atlantic subtropical storms. Part I: Diagnostic criteria and composite analysis

Jenni L. Evans, Mark P. Guishard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Subtropical cyclones (ST) have only recently gained attention as damaging weather systems. A set of criteria for identifying and classifying these systems is introduced here and employed to identify 18 ST cases forming in the 1999-2004 hurricane seasons. To be classified as an ST, these systems must have near-surface gale-force winds and show hybrid structure for more than one diurnal cycle. The 18 ST cases are partitioned into four classes based upon their genesis environments. Genesis over waters with SST in excess of 25°C is observed in almost 80% of warm-season cases, in contrast with only 55% in an ST climatology presented in a companion study. The low-shear magnitude constraint recognized for tropical cyclogenesis is less apparent for ST formation with over 50% forming in the two partitions characterized by shear in excess of 10 m s-1. This relatively high-shear environment corresponds to equatorward intrusion of upper troughs over the relatively warm SST present in the mid - late hurricane season. Anomaly composites confirm that ST genesis is associated with the intrusion of an upper trough in the westerlies into a region of relatively warm SST and weak static stability, with a corresponding reduction in the environmental shear near the time of ST genesis. These conditions correspond well with the conditions for tropical transition identified by Davis and Bosart. Indeed, these systems exhibit a propensity to continue development into a tropical cyclone; 80% eventually became named tropical systems. This result is consistent with a recent ST climatology but had not been widely recognized previously. This raises the possibility that tropical storms evolving from ST may have been overlooked or their tracks truncated in the National Hurricane Center Hurricane Database (HURDAT).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2065-2080
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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