Uhlhorn, E.W., B.W. Klotz, T. Vukicevic, P.D. Reasor, and R.F. Rogers. Observed hurricane wind speed asymmetries and relationships to motion and environmental shear. Monthly Weather Review, 142(3):1290-1311, doi:10.1175/MWR-D-13-00249.1 2014 FY2014


Wavenumber-1 wind speed asymmetries in 35 hurricanes are quantified in terms of amplitude and phase, based on aircraft observations from 128 individual flights between 1998 and 2011. The impacts of motion and 850-200 mb environmental vertical shear are examined separately to estimate the resulting asymmetric structures at the sea surface and standard 700 mb reconnaissance flight level. The surface asymmetry amplitude is on average around 50% smaller than found at flight level, and while the asymmetry amplitude grows in proportion to storm translation speed at the flight level, no significant growth at the surface is observed, contrary to conventional assumption. However, a significant upwind storm motion-relative phase rotation is found at the surface as translation speed increases, while the flight-level phase remains fairly constant. After removing the estimated impact of storm motion on the asymmetry, a significant residual shear direction-relative asymmetry is found, particularly at the surface, and on average is located down-shear to left-of-shear. Furthermore, the shear-relative phase has a significant downwind rotation as shear magnitude increases, such that the maximum rotates from the downshear to left-of-shear azimuthal location. By stratifying observations according to shear-relative motion, this general pattern of a left-of-shear residual wind speed maximum is found regardless of the orientation between the storm’s heading and shear direction. These results are quite consistent with recent observational studies relating Western Pacific typhoon wind asymmetries to environmental shear. Finally, changes in wind asymmetry over a five-day period in Hurricane Earl (2010) are analyzed to understand combined impacts of motion and the evolving shear.

Back to Publication Search
Employee Tools
Stay Connected