The environmental and inner-core conditions governing the intensity of hurricane Erin (2001)

Thomas A. Jones, Daniel J. Cecil, Jason Dunion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The evolution of Hurricane Erin (2001) is presented from the perspective of its environmental and inner-core conditions, particularly as they are characterized in the Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction Scheme with Microwave Imagery (SHIPS-MI). Erin can be described as having two very distinct periods. The first, which occurred between 1 and 6 September 2001, was characterized by a struggling tropical storm failing to intensify as the result of unfavorable environmental and inner-core conditions. The surrounding environment during this period was dominated by moderate shear and mid- to upper-level dry air, both caused in some part by the presence of a Saharan air layer (SAL). Further intensification was inhibited by the lack of sustained deep convection and latent heating near the low-level center. The authors attribute this in part to negative effects from the SAL. The thermodynamic conditions associated with the SAL were not well sampled by the SHIPS parameters, resulting in substantial overforecasting by both SHIPS and SHIPS-MI. Instead, the hostile conditions surrounding Erin caused its dissipation on 6 September. The second period began on 7 September when Erin re-formed north of the original center. Erin began to pull away from the SAL and moved over 29°C sea surface temperatures, beginning a rapid intensification phase and reaching 105 kt by 1800 UTC 9 September. SHIPS-MI forecasts called for substantial intensification as in the previous period, but this time the model underestimated the rate of intensification. The addition of inner-core characteristics from passive microwave data improved the skill somewhat compared to SHIPS, but still left much room for improvement. For this period, it appears that the increasingly favorable atmospheric conditions caused by Erin moving away from the SAL were not well sampled by SHIPS or SHIPS-MI. As a result, the intensity change forecasts were not able to take into account the more favorable environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)708-725
Number of pages18
JournalWeather and Forecasting
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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