Finescale Spiral Band Features within a Numerical Simulation of Hurricane Opal (1995)

Romine, Glen S.; Wilhelmson, Robert B.
April 2006
Monthly Weather Review;Apr2006, Vol. 134 Issue 4, p1121
Academic Journal
One of the most recognizable features associated with a well-organized tropical system are spiral rainbands. These quasi-stationary rainbands often extend hundreds of kilometers from the storm center and have been well described in the literature. Observational studies have since identified additional banding structures, including outward-propagating small-scale spiral bands. These rainbands may have considerable implications for “core type” tornadoes, local wind maxima associated with downburst damage swaths, as well as a role in overall hurricane dynamics. As such, here a numerical simulation of Hurricane Opal (1995) is examined with unprecedented resolution necessary to capture these small-scale spiral bands. Opal was an intense landfalling hurricane that demonstrated small-scale spiral banding features analogous to those observational studies. The scale and characteristics of the simulated bands are consistent with observed small-scale spiral banding of intense hurricanes. A varietal of Kelvin–Helmholtz instability combined with boundary layer shear is offered as the most plausible dynamical mechanism for the generation and maintenance of these propagating bands outward of the eyewall region.


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