Dynamics of the transition from Spiral Rainbands to a secondary eyewall in Hurricane Earl (2010)

Anthony C. Didlake, Paul D. Reasor, Robert F. Rogers, Wen Chau Lee

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50 Scopus citations


Airborne Doppler radar captured the inner core of Hurricane Earl during the early stages of secondary eyewall formation (SEF), providing needed insight into the SEF dynamics. An organized rainband complex outside of the primary eyewall transitioned into an axisymmetric secondary eyewall containing a low-level tangential wind maximum. During this transition, the downshear-left quadrant of the storm exhibited several notable features. A mesoscale descending inflow (MDI) jet persistently occurred across broad stretches of stratiform precipitation in a pattern similar to previous studies. This negatively buoyant jet traveled radially inward and descended into the boundary layer. Farther inward, enhanced low-level inflow and intense updrafts appeared. The updraft adjacent to the MDI was likely triggered by a region of convergence and upward acceleration (induced by the negatively buoyant MDI) entering the high-θe boundary layer. This updraft and the MDI in the downshear-left quadrant accelerated the tangential winds in a radial range where the axisymmetric wind maximum of the secondary eyewall soon developed. This same quadrant eventually exhibited the strongest overturning circulation and wind maximum of the forming secondary eyewall. Given these features occurring in succession in the downshear-left quadrant, we hypothesize that the MDI plays a significant dynamical role in SEF. The MDI within a mature rainband complex persistently perturbs the boundary layer, which locally forces enhanced convection and tangential winds. These perturbations provide steady low-level forcing that projects strongly onto the axisymmetric field, and forges the way for secondary eyewall development via one of several SEF theories that invoke axisymmetric dynamical processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2909-2929
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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