Vertical Structure of Hurricane Eyewalls as Seen by the TRMM Precipitation Radar

Hence, D. A., and R. Houze (2011), Vertical Structure of Hurricane Eyewalls as Seen by the TRMM Precipitation Radar, J. Atmos. Sci., 68, 1637-1652, doi:10.1175/2011JAS3578.1.

Statistical analysis of the vertical structure of radar echoes in the eyewalls of tropical cyclones, shown by the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Radar (PR), shows that the eyewall contains high reflectivities and high echo tops, with deeper and more intense but highly intermittent echo perturbations superimposed on the basic structure. The overall echo strength, height of echo top, and presence of intense echo perturbations all increase with vortex strength. Intense echo perturbations decrease in frequency with low sea surface temperatures. When the PR data are normalized by the amount of radar echo in each sample and examined quadrant by quadrant relative to the direction of the environmental shear, the nature of convective processes in different parts of the eyewall becomes apparent. The normalized statistics of the echo intensity, brightband structure, and maximum echo-top height show that processes generating convective precipitation are generally favored in the downshear-right region of the eyewall, while the nonnormalized statistics indicate that the vertical wind shear determines the placement of precipitation particles downwind of the generation zone such that the precipitation maximum occurs about one quadrant downwind of the convective generation zone. When the track speed exceeds the magnitude of the shear vector, this pattern modifies such that the asymmetry rotates one quadrant to the right. The statistics, moreover, indicate that vertical wind shear is the factor determining the placement of precipitation particles around the storm, while other factors determine the location, intensity, and means of their generation.

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