Looping tracks associated with tropical cyclones approaching an isolated mountain. Part I: Essential parameters


Essential parameters for making a looping track when a westward-moving tropical cyclone (TC) approaches a mesoscale mountain are investigated by examining several key nondimensional control parameters with a series of systematic, idealized numerical experiments, such as U/Nh, V max/Nh, U/fL x , V max/fR, h/L x , and R/L y . Here U is the uniform zonal wind velocity, N the Brunt–Vaisala frequency, h the mountain height, f the Coriolis parameter, V max the maximum tangential velocity at a radius of R from the cyclone center and L x is the halfwidth of the mountain in the east–west direction. It is found that looping tracks (a) tend to occur under small U/Nh and U/fL x , moderate h/L x , and large V max/Nh, which correspond to slow movement (leading to subgeostrophic flow associated with strong orographic blocking), moderate steepness, and strong tangential wind associated with TC vortex; (b) are often accompanied by an area of perturbation high pressure to the northeast of the mountain, which lasts for only a short period; and (c) do not require the existence of a northerly jet. The nondimensional control parameters are consolidated into a TC looping index (LI), \( \frac{{U^{2} R^{2} }}{{V_{\hbox{max} }^{2} hL_{y} }} \), which is tested by several historical looping and non-looping typhoons approaching Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range (CMR) from east or southeast. It is found that LI < 0.0125 may serve as a criterion for looping track to occur.

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The authors would like to thank the helpful comments of two anonymous reviewers that led to improvements of the paper. The second author is partially supported by the National Science Foundation Award AGS-1265783.

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Correspondence to Yi-Chih Huang.

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Responsible Editor: M. Kaplan.

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Huang, Y., Lin, Y. Looping tracks associated with tropical cyclones approaching an isolated mountain. Part I: Essential parameters. Meteorol Atmos Phys 130, 333–348 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00703-017-0533-x

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