Extreme rainfall from landfalling tropical cyclones in the eastern united states: Hurricane irene (2011)

Maofeng Liu, James A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Hurricane Irene produced catastrophic rainfall and flooding in portions of the eastern United States from 27 to 29 August 2011. Like a number of tropical cyclones that have produced extreme flooding in the northeastern United States, Hurricane Irene was undergoing extra tropical transition during the period of most intense rainfall. in this study the rainfall distribution of land falling tropical cyclones is examined, principally through analyses of radar rainfall fields and high-resolution simulations using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. In addition to extra tropical transition, the changing storm environment at landfall and orographic precipitation mechanisms can be important players in controlling the distribution of extreme rainfall. Rainfall distribution from land falling tropical cyclones is examined from a Lagrangian perspective, focusing on times of landfall and extra tropical transition, as well as interactions of the storm circulation with mountainous terrain. WRF simulations capture important features of rainfall distribution, including the pronounced change in rainfall distribution during extra tropical transition. Synoptic-scale analyses show that a deep baroclinic zone developed and strengthened in the left-front quadrant of Irene, controlling rainfall distribution over the regions experiencing most severe flooding. Numerical experiments were performed with WRF to examine the role of mountainous terrain in altering rainfall distribution. Analyses of Hurricane Irene are placed in a larger context through analyses of Hurricane Hannah (2008) and Hurricane Sandy (2012).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2883-2904
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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