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General Discussion >> Hurricane Ask/Tell

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Reged: Fri
Posts: 245
Loc: Beautiful Honolulu Hawaii
The Tale of 2 Cyclones - Appearances Can Be Deceiving!
      #86482 - Tue Aug 25 2009 10:20 AM

OK. Check this out.

Here are 2 Passive Microwave Images of 2 different cyclones. (Hey! No fair peeking!)

Guess, from looking at the images, which is the stronger of the two?


Yep, little Tropical Storm HILDA (Top) is at least 10 Kts. STRONGER than TS Ignacio (Bottom), which is much closer to Mexico.

Seems that Ignacio, with it's broad, spiral banding features and vast aerial expanse and the harbingers of a nacent eyewall-like formation, and nice vertical alignment, certainly APPEARS to be, by far, the stronger of the two.

But actually HILDA, with it's partially exposed circulation, small size and lack of any banding features at all, is fully 10 Kts. stronger.

Go figure ?!? Thoughts? Comments?

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Ed DunhamAdministrator
Former Meteorologist & CFHC Forum Moderator (Ed Passed Away on May 14, 2017)

Reged: Sun
Posts: 2565
Loc: Melbourne, FL
Re: The Tale of 2 Cyclones - Appearances Can Be Deceiving! [Re: CoconutCandy]
      #86484 - Tue Aug 25 2009 10:45 AM

With Hilda, the deep convection (bright red) is a lot closer to the center than with Ignatio, however, its not really a fair assessment since the IR image on one system is timestamped at 05Z whereas the other system image is for 1130Z.

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Reged: Fri
Posts: 245
Loc: Beautiful Honolulu Hawaii
The Tale of 2 Cyclones - Appearances Can Be Deceiving! [Re: Ed Dunham]
      #86486 - Tue Aug 25 2009 12:19 PM

Well, it was actually meant as an *abstract* comparison, so it could be essentially any 2 storms from any year, from any basin, regardless of date or time.


... however, its not really a fair assessment ...

Which is really the heart of the matter.

See, Hilda has been building for a few days already, and has a tight, compact windfield. It's nearly as small a Hurricane CARLOS earlier this year, which had to have been the smallest, midget Full-On-Hurricane I've ever seen.

Whereas Ignacio, with the more impressive satellite signature, is still "winding up", and it's extensive spiral bands have yet to 'consolidate'. And while the nascent 'eye' sure looks impressive too, it's also a sheared system and is having a tough time establishing that critical inner-core circulation sufficiently aligned in the vertical to really lay claim as a strong storm.

Also quite possible with Ignacio, that the pressure falls have yet to translate into a strengthening wind field, being as large as it is. I've seen some promissing looking storms essentially 'fall apart' because the circulation fails to consolidate before other detrimental factors (shear, SST's, etc.) preclude any further strengthening.

Bottom line: Small Storms with a Small Circulation can undergo faster and more radical changes in strength than can larger, sprawling systems. One need only mention Hurricane Charley for a classic case in point.

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