Impacts of the Pacific Meridional Mode on Landfalling North Atlantic tropical cyclones

Wei Zhang, Gabriele Villarini, Gabriel Andres Vecchi, Hiroyuki Murakami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study examines the impacts of the Pacific Meridional Mode (PMM) on North Atlantic tropical cyclones (TCs) making landfall along the coastal US, Caribbean Islands and Mexico, and provides insights on the underlying physical mechanisms using observations and model simulations. There is a statistically significant time-lagged association between spring PMM and the August–October US and Caribbean landfalling TCs. Specifically, the positive (negative) spring PMM events tend to be followed by fewer (more) TCs affecting the coastal US (especially over the Gulf of Mexico and Florida) and the Caribbean Islands. This lagged association is mainly caused by the lagged impacts of PMM on the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and the subsequent impacts of ENSO on TC frequency and landfalls. Positive (negative) PMM events are largely followed by El Niño (La Niña) events, which lead to less (more) TC geneses close to the US coast (i.e., the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea); this also leads to easterly (westerly) steering flow in the vicinity of the US and Caribbean coast, which is unfavorable (favorable) to TC landfall across the Gulf of Mexico, Florida and Caribbean Islands. Perturbation simulations with the state-of-the-art Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Forecast-oriented Low Ocean Resolution Version of CM2.5 (FLOR) support the linkage between PMM and TC landfall activity. The time-lagged impacts of spring PMM on TC landfalling activity results in a new predictor to forecast seasonal TC landfall activity along the US (especially over the Gulf of Mexico and Florida) and Caribbean coastal regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)991-1006
Number of pages16
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Landfall
  • Pacific Meridional Mode
  • Tropical Cyclones


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