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Orographic Enhancement of Precipitation inside Hurricane Dean

Smith, R. B., Schafer, P., Kirshbaum, D. J. and Regina, E. (2009) Orographic Enhancement of Precipitation inside Hurricane Dean. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 10 (3). pp. 820-831. ISSN 1525-7541

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/2008JHM1057.1


On 17 August 2007, the center of Hurricane Dean passed within 92 km of the mountainous island of Dominica in the West Indies. Despite its distance from the island and its category 1–2 state, Dean brought significant total precipitation exceeding 500 mm and caused numerous landslides. Four rain gauges, a Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image, and 5-min radar scans from Guadeloupe and Martinique are used to determine the storm’s structure and the mountains’ effect on precipitation. The encounter is best described in three phases: (i) an east-northeast dry flow with three isolated drifting cells; (ii) a brief passage of the narrow outer rainband; and (iii) an extended period with south-southeast airflow in a nearly stationary spiral rainband. In this final phase, from 1100 to 2400 UTC, heavy rainfall from the stationary rainband was doubled by orographic enhancement. This enhancement pushed the sloping soils past the landslide threshold. The enhancement was caused by a modified seeder–feeder accretion mechanism that created a “dipole” pattern of precipitation, including a dry zone over the ocean in the lee. In contrast to normal trade-wind conditions, no terrain triggering of convection was identified in the hurricane environment.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Soil Research Centre
ID Code:4641
Uncontrolled Keywords:Orographic effects, Precipitation, Hurricanes
Publisher:American Meteorological Society

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