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| Outline of tropical cyclones |
A tropical cyclone rainfall climatology is developed to determine rainfall characteristics of past tropical cyclones. A tropical cyclone rainfall climatology can be used to help forecast current or upcoming tropical cyclone impacts. The degree of a tropical cyclone rainfall impact depends upon speed of movement, storm size, and degree of vertical wind shear. One of the most significant threats from tropical cyclones is heavy rainfall. Large, slow moving, and non-sheared tropical cyclones produce the heaviest rains. The intensity of a tropical cyclone appears to have little bearing on its potential for rainfall over land, but satellite measurements over the last several years show that more intense tropical cyclones produce noticeably more rainfall over water. Flooding from tropical cyclones remains a significant cause of fatalities, particularly in low-lying areas.
A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain. Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by different names, including hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression, and simply cyclone. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, and a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean; in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean, comparable storms are referred to simply as "tropical cyclones" or "severe cyclonic storms".
While inland flooding is common to tropical cyclones, there are factors which lead to excessive rainfall from tropical cyclones. Slow motion, as was seen during Hurricane Danny (1997) and Hurricane Wilma, can lead to high amounts of rainfall. The presence of mountains/hills near the coast, like across much of Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Central America, Madagascar, Réunion, China, and Japan acts to magnify rainfall potential due to forced upslope flow into the mountains. Strong upper level forcing from a trough moving through the Westerlies and its associated cold front, as was the case during Hurricane Floyd, can lead to high amounts even from systems moving at an average forward motion. Larger tropical cyclones drop more rainfall as they precipitate upon one spot for a longer time frame than average or small tropical cyclones. A combination of two of these factors could be especially crippling, as was seen during Hurricane Mitch in Central America.During the 2005 season, flooding related to slow-moving Hurricane Stan's broad circulation led to 1,662–2,000 deaths.
A flood is an overflow of water that submerges land that is usually dry. In the sense of "flowing water", the word may also be applied to the inflow of the tide. Floods are an area of study of the discipline hydrology and are of significant concern in agriculture, civil engineering and public health.
Hurricane Danny was the only hurricane to make landfall in the United States during the 1997 Atlantic hurricane season, and the second hurricane and fourth tropical storm of the season. The system became the earliest-formed fifth tropical or subtropical storm of the Atlantic season in history when it attained tropical storm strength on July 17, and held that record until the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season when Tropical Storm Emily broke that record by several days. Like the previous four tropical or subtropical cyclones of the season, Danny had a non-tropical origin, after a trough spawned convection that entered the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Danny was guided northeast through the Gulf of Mexico by two high pressure areas, a rare occurrence in the middle of July. After making landfall on the Gulf Coast, Danny tracked across the southeastern United States and ultimately affected parts of New England with rain and wind.
Hurricane Wilma was the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Atlantic basin, and the second-most intense tropical cyclone recorded in the Western Hemisphere, after Hurricane Patricia in 2015. Part of the record-breaking 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, which included three of the ten most intense Atlantic hurricanes ever, Wilma was the twenty-second storm, thirteenth hurricane, sixth major hurricane, fourth Category 5 hurricane, and the second-most destructive hurricane of the 2005 season. A tropical depression formed in the Caribbean Sea near Jamaica on October 15, headed westward, and intensified into a tropical storm two days later, which abruptly turned southward and was named Wilma. Wilma continued to strengthen, and eventually became a hurricane on October 18. Shortly thereafter, explosive intensification occurred, and in only 24 hours, Wilma became a Category 5 hurricane with wind speeds of 185 mph (298 km/h).
|Rainfall Rate per day within radius of the center (Riehl)|
|Radius (mi)||Radius (km)||Amount (in)||Amount (mm)|
Isaac Cline was the first to investigate rainfall distribution around tropical cyclones in the early 1900s. He found that a larger proportion of rainfall falls in advance of the center (or eye) than after the center's passage, with the highest percentage falling in the right front quadrant. Father Viñes of Cuba found that some tropical cyclones have their highest rainfall rates in the rear quadrant within a training (non-moving) inflow band. knots/39 mph/63 km/h) winds. Rainfall is more common near the center of tropical cyclones overnight. Over land, outer bands are more active during the heating of the day, which can act to restrict inflow into the center of the cyclone. Recent studies have shown that half of the rainfall within a tropical cyclone is stratiform in nature. The chart to the right was developed by Riehl in 1954 using meteorological equations that assume a gale radius of about 140 miles (230 km), a fairly symmetric cyclone, and does not consider topographic effects or vertical wind shear. Local amounts can exceed this chart by a factor of two due to topography. Wind shear tends to lessen the amounts below what is shown on the table.Normally, as a tropical cyclone intensifies, its heavier rainfall rates become more concentrated around its center. Rainfall is found to be heaviest in tropical cyclone's inner core, whether it be the eyewall or central dense overcast, within a degree latitude of the center, with lesser amounts farther away from the center. Most of the rainfall in tropical cyclones is concentrated within its radius of gale-force (34
Isaac Monroe Cline was the chief meteorologist at the Galveston, Texas office of the U.S. Weather Bureau, now known as the National Weather Service, from 1889 to 1901. In that role, he became a central figure in the devastating Galveston hurricane of 1900. The Isaac M. Cline Award, the NWS's highest honor, is named due to his "numerous contributions to the mission of the Weather Bureau" and is "one of the most recognized employees in weather service history."
Rain is liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then become heavy enough to fall under gravity. Rain is a major component of the water cycle and is responsible for depositing most of the fresh water on the Earth. It provides suitable conditions for many types of ecosystems, as well as water for hydroelectric power plants and crop irrigation.
Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometres (42,800 sq mi). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometres (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.
Larger tropical cyclones have larger rain shields, which can lead to higher rainfall amounts farther from the cyclone's center.This is generally due to the longer time frame rainfall falls at any one spot in a larger system, when compared to a smaller system. Some of the difference seen concerning rainfall between larger and small storms could be the increased sampling of rainfall within a larger tropical cyclone when compared to that of a compact cyclone; in other words, the difference could be the result of a statistical problem.
Storms which have moved slowly, or loop, over a succession of days lead to the highest rainfall amounts for several countries. Riehl calculated that 33.97 inches (863 mm) of rainfall per day can be expected within one-half degree, or 35 miles (56 km), of the center of a mature tropical cyclone. Many tropical cyclones progress at a forward motion of 10 knots, which would limit the duration of this excessive rainfall to around one-quarter of a day, which would yield about 8.50 inches (216 mm) of rainfall. This would be true over water, within 100 miles (160 km) of the coastline, and outside topographic features. As a cyclone moves farther inland and is cut off from its supply of warmth and moisture (the ocean), rainfall amounts from tropical cyclones and their remains decrease quickly.
Vertical wind shear forces the rainfall pattern around a tropical cyclone to become highly asymmetric, with most of the precipitation falling to the left and downwind of the shear vector, or downshear left. In other words, southwesterly shear forces the bulk of the rainfall north-northeast of the center.If the wind shear is strong enough, the bulk of the rainfall will move away from the center leading to what is known as an exposed circulation center. When this occurs, the potential magnitude of rainfall with the tropical cyclone will be significantly reduced.
Wind shear, sometimes referred to as wind gradient, is a difference in wind speed or direction over a relatively short distance in the atmosphere. Atmospheric wind shear is normally described as either vertical or horizontal wind shear. Vertical wind shear is a change in wind speed or direction with change in altitude. Horizontal wind shear is a change in wind speed with change in lateral position for a given altitude.
As a tropical cyclone interacts with an upper-level trough and the related surface front, a distinct northern area of precipitation is seen along the front ahead of the axis of the upper level trough. This type of interaction can lead to the appearance of the heaviest rainfall falling along and to the left of the tropical cyclone track, with the precipitation streaking hundreds of miles or kilometers downwind from the tropical cyclone.The stronger the upper trough picking up the tropical cyclone, the more significant the left of track shift in the rainfall distribution tends to be.
Moist air forced up the slopes of coastal hills and mountain chains can lead to much heavier rainfall than in the coastal plain. This heavy rainfall can lead to landslides, which still cause significant loss of life such as seen during Hurricane Mitch in Central America.
Globally, tropical cyclone rainfall is more common across the northern hemisphere than across the southern hemisphere. This is mainly due to the normal annual tropical cyclone distribution, as between half and two-thirds of all tropical cyclones form north of the equator. Rainfall is concentrated near the 15th parallel in both hemispheres, with a less steep dropoff seen with latitude across the northern hemisphere, due to the stronger warm water currents seen in that hemisphere which allow tropical cyclones to remain tropical in nature at higher latitudes than south of the equator. In the southern hemisphere, rainfall impacts will be most common between January and March, while north of the equator, tropical cyclone rainfall impacts are more common between June and November. Japan receives over half of its rainfall from typhoons.
Between 1970-2004, inland flooding caused a majority of the tropical cyclone-related fatalities in the United States. inches (406 mm), with 70–75 percent of the storm total falling within a 24-hour period. The highest point total was seen during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, when 60.58 inches (1,538.7 mm) fell in southeast Texas.This statistic changed in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina's impact alone shifted the most deadly aspect of tropical cyclones back to storm surge, which has historically been the most deadly aspect of strong tropical cyclones. On average, five tropical cyclones of at least tropical depression strength lead to rainfall across the contiguous United States annually, contributing around a quarter of the annual rainfall to the southeast United States. While many of these storms form in the Atlantic basin, some systems or their remnants move through Mexico from the Eastern Pacific basin. The average storm total rainfall for a tropical cyclone impacting the lower 48 from the Atlantic basin is about 16
The 2003 Atlantic hurricane season was a very active Atlantic hurricane season with tropical activity before and after the official bounds of the season—the first such occurrence since the 1964 season. The season produced 21 tropical cyclones, of which 16 developed into named storms; seven cyclones attained hurricane status, of which three reached major hurricane status. With sixteen storms, the season was tied for the sixth-most active Atlantic hurricane season on record. The strongest hurricane of the season was Hurricane Isabel, which reached Category 5 status on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale northeast of the Lesser Antilles; Isabel later struck North Carolina as a Category 2 hurricane, causing $5.5 billion in damage and a total of 51 deaths across the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
The 2002 Atlantic hurricane season was a borderline-average Atlantic hurricane season. It officially started on June 1, 2002 and ended on November 30, dates which conventionally limit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones develop in the Atlantic Ocean. The season produced fourteen tropical cyclones, of which twelve developed into named storms; four became hurricanes, and two attained major hurricane status. While the season's first cyclone did not develop until July 14, activity quickly picked up; the 2002 season tied with 2010 in which a record number of tropical storms, eight, developed in the month of September. It ended early however, with no tropical storms forming after October 6—a rare occurrence caused partly by El Niño conditions. The most intense hurricane of the season was Hurricane Isidore with a minimum central pressure of 934 mbar, although Hurricane Lili attained higher winds and peaked at Category 4 whereas Isidore only reached Category 3. The season's low activity is reflected in the low cumulative accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) rating of 67. ACE is, broadly speaking, a measure of the power of the hurricane multiplied by the length of time it existed, so low number reflects the small number of strong storms and preponderance of tropical storms.
The 2000 Atlantic hurricane season was the first Atlantic hurricane season without a tropical cyclone in the month of July since 1993. The hurricane season officially began on June 1, and ended on November 30. It was slightly above average due to a La Niña weather pattern although most of the storms were weak. The first cyclone, Tropical Depression One, developed in the southern Gulf of Mexico on June 7 and dissipated after an uneventful duration. However, it would be almost two months before the first named storm, Alberto, formed near Cape Verde; Alberto also dissipated with no effects on land. Several other tropical cyclones—Tropical Depression Two, Tropical Depression Four, Chris, Ernesto, Nadine, and an unnamed subtropical storm—did not impact land. Five additional storms—Tropical Depression Nine, Florence, Isaac, Joyce, and Leslie—minimally affected land areas.
The 1975 Atlantic hurricane season featured the first tropical storm to be upgraded to a hurricane based solely on satellite imagery – Hurricane Doris. The season officially began on June 1 and lasted until November 30. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. The season was near average, with nine tropical storms forming, of which six became hurricanes. Three of those six became major hurricanes, which are Category 3 or higher on the Saffir–Simpson scale. The first system, Tropical Depression One, developed on June 24. Tropical Storm Amy in July caused minor beach erosion and coastal flooding from North Carolina to New Jersey, and killed one person when a ship capsized offshore North Carolina. Hurricane Blanche brought strong winds to portions of Atlantic Canada, leaving about $6.2 million (1975 USD) in damage. Hurricane Caroline brought high tides and flooding to northeastern Mexico and Texas, with two drownings in the latter.
Hurricane Kathleen was a tropical cyclone that had a destructive impact in California. On September 7, 1976, a tropical depression formed; two days later it accelerated north towards the Baja California Peninsula. Kathleen brushed the Pacific coast of the peninsula as a hurricane on September 9 and made landfall as a fast-moving tropical storm the next day. With its circulation intact and still a tropical storm, Kathleen headed north into the United States and affected California and Arizona. Kathleen finally dissipated late on September 11.
Hurricane Erika was a weak hurricane that struck extreme northeastern Mexico near the Texas-Tamaulipas border in mid-August of the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season. Erika was the eighth tropical cyclone, fifth tropical storm, and third hurricane of the season. At first, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) operationally did not designate it as a hurricane because initial data suggested winds of 70 mph (115 km/h) at Erika's peak intensity. It was not until later data was analyzed that the NHC revised it to Category 1 intensity in the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. The storm developed from a non-tropical area of low pressure that was tracked for five days before developing in the eastern Gulf of Mexico on August 14. Under the influence of a high pressure system, Erika moved quickly westward and strengthened under favorable conditions. It made landfall as a hurricane on northeastern Mexico on August 16 and rapidly dissipated inland.
Hurricane Kyle was the fifth-longest-lived Atlantic tropical or subtropical cyclone on record. The eleventh named storm and third hurricane of the 2002 Atlantic hurricane season, Kyle developed as a subtropical cyclone on September 20 to the east-southeast of Bermuda. Looping westward, it transitioned into a tropical cyclone and became a hurricane on September 25. For the next two weeks, Kyle tracked generally westward, oscillating in strength several times because of fluctuations in environmental conditions. On October 11, the cyclone turned northeastward and made landfalls near Charleston, South Carolina, and Long Beach, North Carolina, at tropical storm status. After lasting as a cyclone for 22 days, Kyle dissipated on October 12 as it was absorbed by an approaching cold front.
Extratropical cyclones, sometimes called mid-latitude cyclones or wave cyclones, are low-pressure areas which, along with the anticyclones of high-pressure areas, drive the weather over much of the Earth. Extratropical cyclones are capable of producing anything from cloudiness and mild showers to heavy gales, thunderstorms, blizzards, and tornadoes. These types of cyclones are defined as large scale (synoptic) low pressure weather systems that occur in the middle latitudes of the Earth. In contrast with tropical cyclones, extratropical cyclones produce rapid changes in temperature and dew point along broad lines, called weather fronts, about the center of the cyclone.
Tropical cyclone rainfall forecasting involves using scientific models and other tools to predict the precipitation expected in tropical cyclones such as hurricanes and typhoons. Knowledge of tropical cyclone rainfall climatology is helpful in the determination of a tropical cyclone rainfall forecast. More rainfall falls in advance of the center of the cyclone than in its wake. The heaviest rainfall falls within its central dense overcast and eyewall. Slow moving tropical cyclones, like Hurricane Danny and Hurricane Wilma, can lead to the highest rainfall amounts due to prolonged heavy rains over a specific location. However, vertical wind shear leads to decreased rainfall amounts, as rainfall is favored downshear and slightly left of the center and the upshear side is left devoid of rainfall. The presence of hills or mountains near the coast, as is the case across much of Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, much of Central America, Madagascar, Réunion, China, and Japan act to magnify amounts on their windward side due to forced ascent causing heavy rainfall in the mountains. A strong system moving through the mid latitudes, such as a cold front, can lead to high amounts from tropical systems, occurring well in advance of its center. Movement of a tropical cyclone over cool water will also limit its rainfall potential. A combination of factors can lead to exceptionally high rainfall amounts, as was seen during Hurricane Mitch in Central America.
The United States tropical cyclone rainfall climatology concerns the amount of precipitation, primarily in the form of rain, which occurs during tropical cyclones and their extratropical cyclone remnants across the United States. Typically, five tropical cyclones and their remnants impact the country each year, contributing between a tenth and a quarter of the annual rainfall across the southern tier of the country. The highest rainfall amounts appear close to the coast, with lesser amounts falling farther inland. Obstructions to the precipitation pattern, such as the Appalachian mountains, focus higher amounts from northern Georgia through New England. While most impacts occur with systems moving in from the Atlantic ocean or Gulf of Mexico, some emanate from the eastern Pacific ocean, with a few crossing Mexico before impacting the Southwest. Those making landfall within the Southeast portion of the country tend to have the greatest potential for heavy rains.
The main effects of tropical cyclones include heavy rain, strong wind, large storm surges near landfall, and tornadoes. The destruction from a tropical cyclone, such as a hurricane or tropical storm, depends mainly on its intensity, its size, and its location. Tropical cyclones act to remove forest canopy as well as change the landscape near coastal areas, by moving and reshaping sand dunes and causing extensive erosion along the coast. Even well inland, heavy rainfall can lead to mudslides and landslides in mountainous areas. Their effects can be sensed over time by studying the concentration of the Oxygen-18 isotope within caves within the vicinity of cyclones' paths.
Tropical Storm Beryl was an unusual Atlantic tropical cyclone that formed over southeastern Louisiana in August 1988. The second tropical storm of the 1988 Atlantic hurricane season, Beryl developed from a slow-moving trough of low pressure on August 8. It tracked southeastward into the coastal waters of eastern Louisiana, and Beryl reached peak winds of 50 mph (85 km/h) while located about 75 miles (120 km) southeast of New Orleans. The storm turned to the northwest over Louisiana and Texas, and slowly dissipated. The remnants of Beryl continued northward into the central United States, dropping some rainfall and providing relief to a severe heat wave.
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.
Tropical Storm Danny was a weak and disorganized tropical cyclone that formed in August 2009. The fourth tropical system and third named storm of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season, Danny developed on August 26 from the interaction between a westward-moving tropical wave and an upper-level trough while situated east of the Bahamas. The storm never fully matured, and resembled a subtropical cyclone. It meandered generally northwestward before being absorbed into another weather system on August 29.
Tropical Storm Candy produced minor impact in the state of Texas during the 1968 Atlantic hurricane season. The third tropical cyclone of the annual season, it developed from a tropical disturbance in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico on June 22. Gradual strengthening occurred, with the depression becoming Tropical Storm Candy on the following day. The storm reached its peak intensity of 70 mph (110 km/h) later that day and made landfall Port Aransas, Texas on June 23. Candy weakened into a tropical depression only hours after moving inland. However, the system remained a designated cyclone until June 26, at which time it completed extratropical transition over the state of Michigan.
The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season was the first in a group of three very active Atlantic hurricane seasons. It is tied alongside 1887, 1995, 2011, and 2012 with 19 tropical storms, the third highest count in recorded history. It featured 12 hurricanes, tied with 1969 for the second highest total. Only the quintessential 2005 season saw more activity. The overall tropical cyclone count in the Atlantic exceeded that in the West Pacific for only the second time on record. The season officially began on June 1 and ended on November 30, dates that conventionally delimit the period during each year when tropical cyclone formation is most likely. The first cyclone, Alex intensified into the first June hurricane since Allison in 1995. The month of September featured eight named storms, tying 2002 and 2007 for the record. October featured five hurricanes, just short of the record set in 1870. Finally, Hurricane Tomas became the latest hurricane on record to move through the Windward Islands in late October. Activity was represented with an accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) value of 165 units, which was the eleventh highest value on record at the time.
Tropical Depression Sixteen-E was the final tropical cyclone of the 2004 Pacific hurricane season. The storm developed out of a tropical wave that moved off the western coast of Africa on October 8. The wave crossed the Atlantic Ocean and entered the eastern Pacific on October 18. The system began to gradually organize, and on October 25 it was classified as a tropical depression. The storm did not significantly intensify, as wind shear prevented it from attaining tropical storm status. The short-lived depression moved northward, and made landfall in Mexico on October 26. Quickly deteriorating, the system dissipated shortly thereafter, although its remnants persisted for a couple more days. The depression had no major effects on land. However, it produced heavy rainfall in parts of Mexico, and the remnants triggered thunderstorms over the southwestern United States.
The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season was a well below average Atlantic hurricane season and the first since 1994 with no major hurricanes. It was also the first season since 1968 with no storms of at least Category 2 intensity on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. The first tropical cyclone of this hurricane season, Andrea, developed on June 5, while the final cyclone, an unnamed subtropical storm, dissipated on December 7. Throughout the year, only two storms—Humberto and Ingrid—reached hurricane intensity; this was the lowest seasonal total since 1982.