Convective-scale downdrafts in the principal rainband of hurricane Katrina (2005)

Anthony C. Didlake, Robert A. Houze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Airborne Doppler radar data collected during the Hurricane Rainband and Intensity Change Experiment (RAINEX) document downdrafts in the principal rainband of Hurricane Katrina (2005). Inner-edge downdrafts (IEDs) originating at 6-8-km altitude created a sharp reflectivity gradient along the inner boundary of the rainband. Low-level downdrafts (LLDs) evidently driven by precipitation drag originated at 2-4 km within the heavy rain cells of each convective element. The IED and LLD were spatially separated by but closely associated with the updrafts within the rainband. The IED was forced aloft by pressure perturbations formed in response to the adjacent buoyant updrafts. Once descending, the air attained negative buoyancy via evaporative cooling from the rainband precipitation. A convective-scale tangential wind maximum tended to occur in the radial inflow at lower levels in association with the IED, which enhanced the inward flux of angular momentum at lower levels. Convergence at the base of the downdrafts on the upwind end of the principal rainband contributed to the principal rainband growing in length. New updraft elements triggered by this convergence led to the formation of new IED and LLD pockets, which were subsequently advected downwind around the storm by the vortex winds while additional new cells continued to form on the upwind end of the band. These processes sustained the principal rainband and helped to make it effectively stationary relative to the storm center, thus maintaining its impact on the hurricane dynamics over an extended period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3269-3293
Number of pages25
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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