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Hurricane Sally (2020) shifts the ocean thermal structure across the inner core during rapid intensification over the shelf
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  • Brian Dzwonkowski,
  • Severine Fournier,
  • Grant Lockridge,
  • Jeff Coogan,
  • Zhilong Liu,
  • Kyeong Park
Brian Dzwonkowski
University of South Alabama, University of South Alabama

Corresponding Author:briandz@disl.org

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Severine Fournier
Jet Propulsion Lab (NASA), Jet Propulsion Lab (NASA)
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Grant Lockridge
Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Dauphin Island Sea Lab
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Jeff Coogan
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
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Zhilong Liu
University of South Alabama, University of South Alabama
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Kyeong Park
Texas A&M University at Galveston, Texas A&M University at Galveston
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Prediction of rapid intensification in tropical cyclones prior to landfall is a major societal issue. While air-sea interactions are clearly linked to storm intensity, the connections between the underlying thermal conditions over continental shelves and rapid intensification are limited. Here, an exceptional set of in-situ and satellite data are used to identify spatial heterogeneity in sea surface temperatures across the inner core of Hurricane Sally (2020), a storm that rapidly intensified over the shelf. A leftward shift in the region of maximum cooling was observed as the hurricane transited from the open gulf to the shelf. This shift was generated, in part, by the surface heat flux in conjunction the along and across-shelf transport of heat from storm-generated coastal circulation. The spatial differences in the sea surface temperatures were large enough to potentially influence rapid intensification processes suggesting that coastal thermal features need to be accounted for to improve storm forecasting as well as to better understand how climate change will modify interactions between tropical cyclones and the coastal ocean.