Relating Observations of Gradient Nonbalance at the Top of Hurricanes With Their Warm Core Structures

Yair Cohen, Stephen L. Durden, Nili Harnik, Eyal Heifetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent analysis of Weather Research and Forecasting simulations shows that the flow around high-pressure regions that often develop at the top of Hurricanes (15-km altitude) violates the gradient wind balance, hence termed as “gradient nonbalance.” While observations at such high altitudes are rare, recently, NASA-HS3 and the Office of Naval Research-Tropical Cyclone Intensity campaigns deployed dropsondes from unprecedented levels around 18 km. In this work we use a wavenumber decomposition method to reproduce 2-D slices and 3-D structures from three storms from these campaigns: Edouard (2014), Joaquin (2015), and Patricia (2015). The analyzed data show that the development of high pressure at the hurricane's top leads to various degrees of gradient nonbalance. These highs are a hydrostatic reflection of the storm tilt, which offsets the warm core with respect to the near surface low and the slanted eyewall. The implications of these findings and the relations with recent reports of upper-level wind field are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11510-11519
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number20
StatePublished - 28 Oct 2019


  • dropsonde observations
  • gradient non balance
  • hurricane intensification
  • hurricane outflow
  • hurricane upper level observations
  • tropical cyclone intensity

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Relating Observations of Gradient Nonbalance at the Top of Hurricanes With Their Warm Core Structures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this