Warm core structure of Hurricane Erin diagnosed from high altitude dropsondes during CAMEX-4

Jeffrey B. Halverson, J. Simpson, G. Heymsfield, H. Pierce, T. Hock, L. Ritchie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


A combination of multiaircraft and several satellite sensors were used to examine the core of Hurricane Erin on 10 September 2001, as part of the Fourth Convection and Moisture Experiment (CAMEX-4) program. During the first set of aircraft passes, around 1700 UTC, Erin was still at its maximum intensity with a central pressure of 969 hPa and wind speed of 105 kt (54 m s-1). The storm was moving slowly northwestward at 4 ms -1, over an increasingly colder sea surface. Three instrumented aircraft, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) P3 with radar, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) ER-2 at 19 km, newly equipped with GPS dropwindsondes, and the NASA DC-8 with dropwindsondes flew in formation across the eye at about 1700 UTC and again 2.5 h later around 1930 UTC. The storm had weakened by 13 m s-1 between the first and second eye penetrations. The warm core had a maximum temperature anomaly of only 11°C, located at 500 hPa, much weaker and lower than active hurricanes. The core appeared to slant rearward above 400 hPa. Even on the first penetration, airborne radar showed that the eyewall cloud towers were dying. The tops fell short of reaching 15 km and a melting band was found throughout. The tropopause had a bulge to 15.8-km elevation (environment ∼14.4 km) above the dying convection. The paper presents a consistent picture of the vortex in shear interaction from a primarily thermodynamic perspective. A feature of Erin at this time was a pronounced wavenumber-1 convective asymmetry with all convective activity being confined to the forward quadrants on the left side of the shear vector as calculated from analyses. This is similar to that predicted by the mesoscale numerical models, which also predict that such small amounts of shear would not affect the storm intensity. In Erin, it is remarkable that relatively small shear produced such a pronounced asymmetry in the convection. From the three-dimensional analysis of dropsonde data, horizontal asymmetries in lower and middle tropospheric warming were identified. The warm anomalies are consistent with the pattern of mesoscale vertical motions inferred from the shear-induced wavenumber-1 asymmetry, dipole in rain intensity, and surface convergence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-324
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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