Tropical Cyclone Tornadoes, 1950–2007

Schultz, Lori A.; Cecil, Daniel J.
October 2009
Monthly Weather Review;Oct2009, Vol. 137 Issue 10, p3471
Academic Journal
An expanded “climatology” of U.S. tropical cyclone (TC) tornadoes covering the period 1950–2007 is presented. A major climatology published in 1991 included data on 626 TC tornadoes. Since then, almost 1200 more TC tornado records have been identified, with almost half of that number from the 2004–05 seasons alone. This work reexamines some findings from previous studies, using a substantially larger database. The new analyses strongly support distinctions between inner- and outer-region tornadoes, which were suggested in previous studies. Outer-region tornadoes (beyond 200 km from the TC center) have a stronger diurnal signal, commonly occurring during the afternoon. Inner-region tornadoes typically occur within ∼12 h of TC landfall, with no strong preference for a particular time of day. They are disproportionately less damaging tornadoes, with more rated F0 than in the outer-region sample. In more general terms, the TC tornado database includes a smaller percentage of significant (≥F2) tornadoes (14%) than does the overall U.S. tornado database (22%). Most TC tornadoes (60%) occur within 100 km of the coast; this includes core-region tornadoes near the time of landfall as well as tornadoes from rainbands coming ashore far from the circulation center. The F0-rated tornadoes are slightly more common near the coast but compose a smaller percentage of the tornadoes inland. The threat often persists for 2–3 days after landfall and extends ∼400 km inland and ∼500 km from the TC center, although there is much case-to-case variability. This puts locations at risk that might otherwise avoid damage from the TC.


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