DISCUSSION: There is no question that year in and year out, tropical cyclones can often confound even the most educated of scientists and people located all over the globe. More specifically, as tropical cyclones begin to form and develop within a region of relatively adverse conditions, the overall cloud structure and corresponding rain-band structure can often be misleading. That is, misleading in terms of how the evolving structure of a developing tropical cyclone often has a very minimal correlation to the potential total impacts from a given tropical cyclone.
This inherent level of psychological confusion with developing tropical cyclones is that a more organized and a more intense tropical cyclone will more likely than not have more destructive impacts to any regions which lie in its path. However, the imperative point of clarification which needs to be made here is the fact that a disorganized storm from a satellite and/or radar-based perspective is no less dangerous than a well-organized storm. This is due to the reality that even with a disorganized system, there are still major threats for both wind and flooding damage since an unbalanced storm (i.e., with respect to moisture and wind intensity distribution) can still delivered tremendous amounts of rainfall (i.e., rainfall totals in excess of 10 to 20 inches within 24 hours) and locally strong winds as well. A perfect example of this narrative could be found with the quick but short-lived development of Tropical Storm Imelda in the vicinity of southeast Texas earlier this year.
In the case of Tropical Storm Imelda, an invigorated tropical disturbance quickly blossomed into a tropical depression and then was upgraded to a tropical storm just hours before the center of Imelda’s still-developing circulation came ashore in southeast Texas. Despite the storm being weak and disorganized overall, this storm went on to dump copious amounts of rainfall in and around coastal and semi-coastal portions of southeast Texas. Thus, this just goes to show that regardless of a tropical cyclone’s overall structural breakdown and its given intensity, all tropical cyclones MUST ALWAYS be given do respect since any single storm can be a storm to be reckoned with for hours or even days to come once a system closes in on a given coastal region. Attached above is a graphic courtesy of The Weather Channel which approximately reflects the overall distribution of the rainfall which resulted from Tropical Storm Imelda across southeast Texas.
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©2019 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz