Cascading weather events amplify the coastal thermal conditions prior to the shelf transit of Hurricane Sally (2020)
Lockridge, Grant R.
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Keywordtropical cyclones; coastal ocean; cascading events; temperature; downwelling; Hurricane Sally
Changes in tropical cyclone intensity prior to landfall represent a significant risk to human life and coastal infrastructure. Such changes can be influenced by shelf water temperatures through their role in mediating heat exchange between the ocean and atmosphere. However, the evolution of shelf sea surface temperature during a storm is dependent on the initial thermal conditions of the water column, information that is often unavailable. Here, observational data from multiple monitoring stations and satellite sensors were used to identify the sequence of events that led to the development of storm-favorable thermal conditions in the Mississippi Bight prior to the transit of Hurricane Sally (2020), a storm that rapidly intensified over the shelf. The annual peak in depth-average temperature of >29°C that occurred prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sally was the result of two distinct warming periods caused by a cascade of weather events. The event sequence transitioned the system from below average to above average thermal conditions over a 25-day period. The transition was initiated with the passage of Hurricane Marco (2020), which mixed the upper water column, transferring heat downward and minimizing the cold bottom water reserved over the shelf. The subsequent reheating of the upper ocean by surface heat flux from the atmosphere, followed by downwelling winds, effectively elevated shelf-wide thermal conditions for the subsequent storm, Hurricane Sally. The coupling of climatological downwelling winds and warm sea surface temperature suggest regions with such characteristics are at an elevated risk for storm intensification over the shelf.
© The Author(s), 2021. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Dzwonkowski, B., Fournier, S., Lockridge, G., Coogan, J., Liu, Z., & Park, K. Cascading weather events amplify the coastal thermal conditions prior to the shelf transit of Hurricane Sally (2020). Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 126(12), (2021): e2021JC017957, https://doi.org/10.1029/2021JC017957.
Suggested CitationDzwonkowski, B., Fournier, S., Lockridge, G., Coogan, J., Liu, Z., & Park, K. (2021). Cascading weather events amplify the coastal thermal conditions prior to the shelf transit of Hurricane Sally (2020). Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 126(12), e2021JC017957.
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