Low-Level Thermodynamic, Kinematic, and Reflectivity Fields of Hurricane Guillermo (1997) during Rapid Intensification

Sitkowski, Matthew; Barnes, Gary M.
February 2009
Monthly Weather Review;Feb2009, Vol. 137 Issue 2, p645
Academic Journal
From 0600 UTC 2 August to 1200 UTC 3 August Hurricane Guillermo (1997) deepened by 54 hPa over the eastern North Pacific Ocean, easily exceeding the thresholds that define rapid intensification (RI). The NOAA WP-3Ds observed a portion of this RI with similar two-aircraft missions on consecutive days. The aircraft jettisoned 70 successful global positioning system (GPS) dropwindsondes (or GPS sondes), which reveal how conditions in the lower troposphere on the octant to quadrant scale evolved within 250 km of the eye. Reflectivity fields demonstrate that the deepening is correlated with a spiraling in of the northern eyewall that reduces the eye diameter by 10 km. This behavior contrasts the more uniform contraction witnessed during eyewall replacement cycles. Mixing between the lower eye and eyewall, as detailed by other investigators, appears to have triggered the reduction in the eye diameter. After RI the eyewall remains asymmetrical with the tallest echo tops and heaviest rain rates located on the east or trailing side of the hurricane and to the left of the deep-layer shear vector. Net latent heat release within 60 km of the circulation center increases 21% from 2 to 3 August and is matched by a 30% increase in the inflow below 2 km at the 100-km radius. The GPS sondes, combined with aircraft in situ data for the eyewall region, reveal that the tropical cyclone (TC) establishes an annulus adjacent to and under the eyewall where the tangential wind component and equivalent potential temperature increase substantially. The radial extent of this annulus is constrained by the rainbands that remain robust throughout RI. The results support the argument that RI is controlled by processes within 100 km of the circulation center, and in particular within the eyewall.


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