Rainfall mechanisms for one of the wettest tropical cyclones on record in Australia-oswald (2013)

Difei Deng, Elizabeth A. Ritchie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Tropical Cyclone Oswald (2013) is considered to be one of the highest-impact storms to make landfall in northern Australia even though it only reached a maximum category 1 intensity on the Australian category scale. After making landfall on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula, Oswald turned southward, and persisted for more than 7 days moving parallel to the coastline as far south as 308S. As one of the wettest tropical cyclones (TCs) in Australian history, the favorable configurations of a lower-latitude active monsoon trough and two consecutive midlatitude trough-jet systems generally contributed to the maintenance of the Oswald circulation over land and prolonged rainfall. As a result, Oswald produced widespread heavy rainfall along the east coast with three maximum centers near Weipa, Townsville, and Rockhampton, respectively. Using high-resolution WRF simulations, the mechanisms associated with TC Oswald's rainfall are analyzed. The results show that the rainfall involved different rainfall mechanisms at each stage. The land-sea surface friction contrast, the vertical wind shear, and monsoon trough were mostly responsible for the intensity and location for the first heavy rainfall center on the Cape York Peninsula. The second torrential rainfall near Townsville was primarily a result of the local topography and land-sea frictional convergence in a conditionally unstable monsoonal environment with frictional convergence due to TC motion modulating some offshore rainfall. The third rainfall area was largely dominated by persistent high vertical wind shear forcing, favorable large-scale quasigeostrophic dynamic lifting from two midlatitude trough-jet systems, and mesoscale frontogenesis lifting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2503-2525
Number of pages23
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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