Articles | Volume 10, issue 20
20 Oct 2010
 | 20 Oct 2010

The genesis of Typhoon Nuri as observed during the Tropical Cyclone Structure 2008 (TCS-08) field experiment – Part 1: The role of the easterly wave critical layer

M. T. Montgomery, L. L. Lussier III, R. W. Moore, and Z. Wang

Abstract. An observational and real-time model forecast study of the genesis of Typhoon Nuri during the Tropical Cyclone Structure 2008 (TCS-08) field campaign in the western North Pacific sector is presented. Analysis and observational data show that the surrounding base state is an easterly trade wind flow and the precursor disturbance to Typhoon Nuri is an easterly wave that originates in the ITCZ in the Central Pacific. This disturbance can be tracked more than 10 days prior to tropical storm formation. An overview of the field data is presented here using a newly proposed dynamical framework for tropical cyclone formation within the critical layer of an easterly wave. Despite propagating through a hostile environment ripe with strong vertical wind shear and relatively dry air, the easterly wave critical layer protects the proto-vortex and allows it to gestate until it reaches a more favorable environment. Within this protective "Kelvin cat's eye flow" located within the wave's critical layer existed a sweet spot, defined as the intersection between the wave trough and critical latitude, which is the preferred location for tropical cyclogenesis. Global Forecast System Final Analyses and IR satellite imagery, which shows convective bands wrapping around the sweet spot as genesis nears, confirm that this sweet spot is the location where Typhoon Nuri's dominant low-level circulation emerges.

United States Air Force C130 and Naval Research Laboratory P3 research flights on 16 and 17 August collected flight-level, dropwindsonde, and Doppler radar data that allowed an evaluation of the dynamic and thermodynamic processes within the cat's eye circulation. The dropwindsonde analyses identifies the precursor easterly wave disturbance on 16 August and identifies an area of weak low-level cyclonic circulation on 17 August.

Real-time forecasts were produced using operational global prediction model data to support scientific missions during TCS-08. These forecasts were found to be useful in flight planning discussions and predicted Typhoon Nuri's eventual genesis latitude within 1.5 degrees 72 h in advance.

Final-revised paper