Rogers, R. F., Reasor, P. D., Zawislak, J. A., & Nguyen, L. T. (2020). Precipitation Processes and Vortex Alignment during the Intensification of a Weak Tropical Cyclone in Moderate Vertical Shear. Monthly Weather Review, (2020).
The mechanisms underlying the development of a deep, aligned vortex, and the role of convection and vertical shear in this process, are explored by examining airborne Doppler radar and deep-layer dropsonde observations of the intensification of Hurricane Hermine (2016), a long-lived tropical depression that intensified to hurricane strength in the presence of moderate vertical wind shear. During Hermine’s intensification the low-level circulation appeared to shift toward locations of deep convection that occurred primarily downshear. Hermine began to steadily intensify once a compact low-level vortex developed within a region of deep convection in close proximity to a midlevel circulation, causing vorticity to amplify in the lower troposphere primarily through stretching and tilting from the deep convection. A notable transition of the vertical mass flux profile downshear of the low-level vortex to a bottom-heavy profile also occurred at this time. The transition in the mass flux profile was associated with more widespread moderate convection and a change in the structure of the deep convection to a bottom-heavy mass flux profile, resulting in greater stretching of vorticity in the lower troposphere of the downshear environment. These structural changes in the convection were related to a moistening in the midtroposphere downshear, a stabilization in the lower troposphere, and the development of a mid- to upper-level warm anomaly associated with the developing midlevel circulation. The evolution of precipitation structure shown here suggests a multiscale cooperative interaction across the convective and mesoscale that facilitates an aligned vortex that persists beyond convective time scales, allowing Hermine to steadily intensify to hurricane strength.