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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science