Maximum sustained wind

Last updated
Saffir–Simpson scale
CategoryWind speeds
(for 1-minute maximum sustained winds)
m/s knots (kn) mph km/h
Five ≥ 70 m/s   ≥ 137 kn   ≥ 157 mph   ≥ 252 km/h  
Four  58–70 m/s    113–136 kn    130–156 mph    209–251 km/h  
Three  50–58 m/s    96–112 kn    111–129 mph    178–208 km/h  
Two  43–49 m/s    83–95 kn    96–110 mph    154–177 km/h  
One  33–42 m/s    64–82 kn    74–95 mph    119–153 km/h  
Related classifications
(for 1-minute maximum sustained winds)
Tropical storm  18–32 m/s    34–63 kn    39–73 mph    63–118 km/h  
Tropical depression  ≤ 17 m/s    ≤ 33 kn    ≤ 38 mph    ≤ 62 km/h  

The maximum sustained wind associated with a tropical cyclone is a common indicator of the intensity of the storm. Within a mature tropical cyclone, it is found within the eyewall at a distance defined as the radius of maximum wind, or RMW. Unlike gusts, the value of these winds are determined via their sampling and averaging the sampled results over a period of time. Wind measuring has been standardized globally to reflect the winds at 10 metres (33 ft) above the Earth's surface, and the maximum sustained wind represents the highest average wind over either a one-minute (US) or ten-minute time span (see the definition, below), anywhere within the tropical cyclone. Surface winds are highly variable due to friction between the atmosphere and the Earth's surface, as well as near hills and mountains over land.

Contents

Over the ocean, satellite imagery determines the value of the maximum sustained winds within a tropical cyclone. Land, ship, aircraft reconnaissance observations, and radar imagery can also estimate this quantity, when available. This value helps determine damage expected from a tropical cyclone, through use of such scales as the Saffir–Simpson scale.

Definition

The maximum sustained wind normally occurs at a distance from the center known as the radius of maximum wind, within a mature tropical cyclone's eyewall, before winds decrease at farther distances away from a tropical cyclone's center. [1] Most weather agencies use the definition for sustained winds recommended by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which specifies measuring winds at a height of 10 metres (33 ft) for 10 minutes, and then taking the average. However, the United States National Weather Service defines sustained winds within tropical cyclones by averaging winds over a period of one minute, measured at the same 10 metres (33 ft) height. [2] This is an important distinctions, as the value of the highest one-minute sustained wind is about 14% greater than a ten-minute sustained wind over the same period. [3]

Determination of value

In most tropical cyclone basins, use of the satellite-based Dvorak technique is the primary method used to determine a tropical cyclone's maximum sustained winds. [4] The extent of spiral banding and difference in temperature between the eye and eyewall is used within the technique to assign a maximum sustained wind and pressure. [5] Central pressure values for their centers of low pressure are approximate. The intensity of example hurricanes is derived from both the time of landfall and the maximum intensity. [6] The tracking of individual clouds on minutely satellite imagery could be used in the future in estimating surface winds speeds for tropical cyclones. [7]

Ship and land observations are also used, when available. In the Atlantic as well as the Central and Eastern Pacific basins, reconnaissance aircraft are still utilized to fly through tropical cyclones to determine flight level winds, which can then be adjusted to provide a fairly reliable estimate of maximum sustained winds. A reduction of 10 percent of the winds sampled at flight level is used to estimate the maximum sustained winds near the surface, which has been determined during the past decade through the use of GPS dropwindsondes. [8] Doppler weather radar can be used in the same manner to determine surface winds with tropical cyclones near land. [9]

Satellite Images of Selected Tropical Cyclones and Associated T-Number from Dvorak technique
Wilma-17-1315z-T30-discussion1500z.png Dennis-06-1445z-T40-discussion1500z.png Jeanne-22-1945z-T50-discussion2100z.png Emily-14-1915z-T60-discussion15-0300z.png
Tropical Storm Wilma at T3.0 Tropical Storm Dennis at T4.0 Hurricane Jeanne at T5.0 Hurricane Emily at T6.0

Variation

Friction between the atmosphere and the Earth's surface causes a 20% reduction in the wind at the surface of the Earth. [10] Surface roughness also leads to significant variation of wind speeds. Over land, winds maximize at hill or mountain crests, while sheltering leads to lower wind speeds in valleys and lee slopes. [11] Compared to over water, maximum sustained winds over land average 8% lower. [12] More especially, over a city or rough terrain, the wind gradient effect could cause a reduction of 40% to 50% of the geostrophic wind speed aloft; while over open water or ice, the reduction is between 10% and 30%. [8] [13] [14]

Relationship to tropical cyclone strength scales

In most basins, maximum sustained winds are used to define their category. In the Atlantic and northeast Pacific oceans, the Saffir–Simpson scale is used. This scale can be used to determine possible storm surge and damage impact on land. [15] In most basins, the category of the tropical cyclone (for example, tropical depression, tropical storm, hurricane/typhoon, super typhoon, depression, deep depression, intense tropical cyclone) is determined from the cyclone's maximum sustained wind. Only in Australia is this quantity not used to define the tropical cyclone's category; in their basin, wind gusts are used. [16]

See also

Related Research Articles

The Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale (SSHWS), formerly the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale (SSHS), classifies hurricanes – Western Hemisphere tropical cyclones – that exceed the intensities of tropical depressions and tropical storms – into five categories distinguished by the intensities of their sustained winds.

Rainband

A rainband is a cloud and precipitation structure associated with an area of rainfall which is significantly elongated. Rainbands can be stratiform or convective, and are generated by differences in temperature. When noted on weather radar imagery, this precipitation elongation is referred to as banded structure. Rainbands within tropical cyclones are curved in orientation. Tropical cyclone rainbands contain showers and thunderstorms that, together with the eyewall and the eye, constitute a hurricane or tropical storm. The extent of rainbands around a tropical cyclone can help determine the cyclone's intensity.

Tropical cyclones are ranked on one of five tropical cyclone intensity scales, according to their maximum sustained winds and which tropical cyclone basin(s) they are located in. Only a few scales of classifications are used officially by the meteorological agencies monitoring the tropical cyclones, but some alternative scales also exist, such as accumulated cyclone energy, the Power Dissipation Index, the Integrated Kinetic Energy Index, and the Hurricane Severity Index.

Eye (cyclone) region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones

The eye is a region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones. The eye of a storm is a roughly circular area, typically 30–65 kilometers in diameter. It is surrounded by the eyewall, a ring of towering thunderstorms where the most severe weather and highest winds occur. The cyclone's lowest barometric pressure occurs in the eye and can be as much as 15 percent lower than the pressure outside the storm.

Dvorak technique

The Dvorak technique is a widely used system to estimate tropical cyclone intensity based solely on visible and infrared satellite images. Within the Dvorak satellite strength estimate for tropical cyclones, there are several visual patterns that a cyclone may take on which define the upper and lower bounds on its intensity. The primary patterns used are curved band pattern (T1.0-T4.5), shear pattern (T1.5–T3.5), central dense overcast (CDO) pattern (T2.5–T5.0), central cold cover (CCC) pattern, banding eye pattern (T4.0–T4.5), and eye pattern (T4.5–T8.0).

Central dense overcast

The central dense overcast, or CDO, of a tropical cyclone or strong subtropical cyclone is the large central area of thunderstorms surrounding its circulation center, caused by the formation of its eyewall. It can be round, angular, oval, or irregular in shape. This feature shows up in tropical cyclones of tropical storm or hurricane strength. How far the center is embedded within the CDO, and the temperature difference between the cloud tops within the CDO and the cyclone's eye, can help determine a tropical cyclone's intensity. Locating the center within the CDO can be a problem for strong tropical storms and with systems of minimal hurricane strength as its location can be obscured by the CDO's high cloud canopy. This center location problem can be resolved through the use of microwave satellite imagery.

Tropical cyclone windspeed climatology

Tropical cyclone windspeed climatology is the study of wind distribution among tropical cyclones, a significant threat to land and people. Since records began in 1851, winds from hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones have been responsible for fatalities and damage in every basin. Major hurricanes usually cause the most wind damage. Hurricane Andrew for example caused $45 billion in damage, most of it wind damage.

Tropical cyclone observation

Tropical cyclone observation has been carried out over the past couple of centuries in various ways. The passage of typhoons, hurricanes, as well as other tropical cyclones have been detected by word of mouth from sailors recently coming to port or by radio transmissions from ships at sea, from sediment deposits in near shore estuaries, to the wiping out of cities near the coastline. Since World War II, advances in technology have included using planes to survey the ocean basins, satellites to monitor the world's oceans from outer space using a variety of methods, radars to monitor their progress near the coastline, and recently the introduction of unmanned aerial vehicles to penetrate storms. Recent studies have concentrated on studying hurricane impacts lying within rocks or near shore lake sediments, which are branches of a new field known as paleotempestology. This article details the various methods employed in the creation of the hurricane database, as well as reconstructions necessary for reanalysis of past storms used in projects such as the Atlantic hurricane reanalysis.

Tropical cyclone forecasting is the science of forecasting where a tropical cyclone's center, and its effects, are expected to be at some point in the future. There are several elements to tropical cyclone forecasting: track forecasting, intensity forecasting, rainfall forecasting, storm surge, tornado, and seasonal forecasting. While skill is increasing in regard to track forecasting, intensity forecasting skill remains nearly unchanged over the past several years. Seasonal forecasting began in the 1980s in the Atlantic basin and has spread into other basins in the years since.

Meteorological history of Hurricane Andrew

The meteorological history of Hurricane Andrew, the strongest tropical cyclone of the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season, lasted from mid to late August 1992. The hurricane developed from a tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa on August 14. Tracking westward due to a ridge, favorable conditions allowed it to develop into Tropical Depression Three on August 16 in the deep tropical Atlantic Ocean. The cyclone gradually intensified, becoming a tropical storm on August 17. However, wind shear soon impacted the storm, causing significant increases in barometric pressure and nearly destroying its low-level circulation by August 20. Wind shear sharply decreased starting on August 21, and with warm sea surface temperatures, Andrew began rapid deepening, starting on the following day. By August 23, Andrew peaked as a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale while approaching The Bahamas.

Glossary of tropical cyclone terms Wikipedia glossary

The following is a glossary of tropical cyclone terms.

1984–85 South Pacific cyclone season cyclone season in the South Pacific ocean

The 1984–85 South Pacific cyclone season was an above-average tropical cyclone season, with nine tropical cyclones occurring within the basin between 160°E and 120°W. The season ran from November 1, 1984, to April 30, 1985, with tropical cyclones officially monitored by the Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS), Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and New Zealand's MetService. The United States Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) and other national meteorological services including Météo-France and NOAA also monitored the basin during the season. During the season there was nine tropical cyclones occurring within the basin, including three that moved into the basin from the Australian region. The BoM, MetService and RSMC Nadi all estimated sustained wind speeds over a period of 10-minutes, which are subsequently compared to the Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale, while the JTWC estimated sustained winds over a 1-minute period, which are subsequently compared to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale (SSHWS).

Tropical cyclones in 2015 Wikimedia list article

During 2015, tropical cyclones formed within seven different tropical cyclone basins, located within various parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. During the year, a total of 133 tropical cyclones had formed this year to date. 92 tropical cyclones had been named by either a Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) or a Tropical Cyclone Warning Center (TCWC).

Tropical cyclones in 2014 Wikimedia list article

During 2014, tropical cyclones formed within seven different tropical cyclone basins, located within various parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. During the year, a total of 119 tropical cyclones had formed this year to date. 82 tropical cyclones had been named by either a Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) or a Tropical Cyclone Warning Center (TCWC). The most active basin in 2014 was the Western Pacific, which documented 23 named systems, while the Eastern Pacific, despite only amounting to 22 named systems, was its basin's most active since 1992. Conversely, both the North Atlantic hurricane and North Indian Ocean cyclone seasons experienced the least number of cyclones reaching tropical storm intensity in recorded history, numbering 9 and 3, respectively. Activity across the southern hemisphere's three basins—South-West Indian, Australian, and South Pacific—was spread evenly, with each region recording seven named storms apiece.

Tropical cyclones in 2004 Wikimedia list article

During 2004, tropical cyclones formed within seven different tropical cyclone basins, located within various parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. During the year, a total of 130 systems formed with 81 of these developing further and were named by the responsible warning centre. The strongest tropical cyclone of the year was Cyclone Gafilo, which was estimated to have a minimum barometric pressure of 895 hPa (26.43 inHg).

References

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