Dynamics and predictability of the intensification of hurricane edouard (2014)

Erin B. Munsell, Fuqing Zhang, Jason A. Sippel, Scott A. Braun, Yonghui Weng

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48 Scopus citations


The dynamics and predictability of the intensification of Hurricane Edouard (2014) are explored through a 60-member convection-permitting ensemble initialized with an ensemble Kalman filter that assimilates dropsondes collected during NASA's Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) investigation. The 126-h forecasts are initialized when Edouard was designated as a tropical depression and include Edouard's near-rapid intensification (RI) from a tropical storm to a strong category-2 hurricane. Although the deterministic forecast was very successful and many members correctly forecasted Edouard's intensification, there was significant spread in the timing of intensification among the members of the ensemble. Utilizing composite groups created according to the near-RI-onset times of the members, it is shown that, for increasing magnitudes of deep-layer shear, RI onset is increasingly delayed; intensification will not occur once a critical shear threshold is exceeded. Although the timing of intensification varies by as much as 48 h, a decrease in shear is observed across the intensifying composite groups ~6-12 h prior to RI. This decrease in shear is accompanied by a reduction in vortex tilt, as the precession and subsequent alignment process begins ~24-48 h prior to RI. Sensitivity experiments reveal that some of the variation in RI timing can be attributed to differences in initial intensity, as the earliest-developing members have the strongest initial vortices regardless of their environment. Significant sensitivity and limited predictability exists for members with weaker initial vortices and/or that are embedded in less conducive environments, under which the randomness of moist convective processes and minute initial differences distant from the surface center can produce divergent forecasts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-595
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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