Kinematic structure of convective-scale elements in the rainbands of hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005)

Deanna A. Hence, Robert A. Houze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Airborne Doppler radar data collected during the Hurricane Rainband and Intensity Change Experiment (RAINEX) show the convective-scale air motions embedded in the principal rainbands of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. These embedded convective cells have overturning updrafts and low-level downdrafts (originating at 2-4 km) that enter the rainband on its radially outward side and cross over each other within the rainband as well as a strong downdraft emanating from upper levels (6+ km) on the radially inward side. These vertical motion structures repeat from one convective cell to another along each rainband. The resulting net vertical mass transport is upward in the upwind portion of the band and greatest in the middle sector of the principal rainband, where the updraft motions contribute generally to an increase of potential vorticity below the 3-4 km level. Because the convective cells in the middle sector are systematically located radially just inside the secondary horizontal wind maximum (SHWM), the local increase in vorticity implied by the convective mass transport is manifest locally as an increase in the strength of the SHWM at midlevels (∼4 km). The overturning updrafts of the convective cells tilt, stretch, and vertically transport vorticity such that the convergence of the vertical flux of vorticity strengthens the vorticity anomaly associated with the SHWM. This process could strengthen the SHWM by several meters per second per hour, and may explain how high wave number convective-scale features can influence a low wave number feature such as the principal rainband, and subsequently influence the primary vortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberD15108
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number15
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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