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Thermodynamic and Kinematic Influences on Precipitation Symmetry in Sheared Tropical Cyclones: Bertha and Cristobal (2014)
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    Monthly Weather Review, 145(11), 4423-4446.
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Thermodynamic and Kinematic Influences on Precipitation Symmetry in Sheared Tropical Cyclones: Bertha and Cristobal (2014)
  • Description:
    Prior studies have shown an association between symmetrically distributed precipitation and tropical cyclone (TC) intensification. Although environmental vertical wind shear typically forces an asymmetric precipitation distribution in TCs, the magnitude of this asymmetry can exhibit considerable variability, even among TCs that experience similar shear magnitudes. This observational study examines the thermodynamic and kinematic influences on precipitation symmetry in two such cases: Bertha and Cristobal (2014). Consistent with the impact of the shear, both TCs exhibited a tilted vortex as well as a pronounced azimuthal asymmetry, with the maximum precipitation occurring in the downshear-left quadrant. However, Bertha was characterized by more symmetrically distributed precipitation and relatively modest vertical motions, while Cristobal was characterized by more azimuthally confined precipitation and much more vigorous vertical motions. Observations showed three potential hindrances to precipitation symmetry that were more prevalent in Cristobal than in Bertha: (i) convective downdrafts that transported low entropy air downward into the boundary layer, cooling and stabilizing the lower troposphere downstream in the left-of-shear and upshear quadrants; (ii) subsidence in the upshear quadrants, which acted to increase the temperature and decrease the relative humidity of the midtroposphere, resulting in capping of the boundary layer; and (iii) lateral advection of midtropospheric dry air from the environment, which dried the TC's upshear quadrants.
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