The Diurnal Cycle of Precipitation in Tropical Cyclones Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Position and intensity data from the International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS) are combined with global, gridded precipitation estimates from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) for the period 19982013 to study the diurnal cycle of precipitation in tropical cyclones. The comprehensive global coverage and large sample size afforded by the two datasets allow robust statistical analysis of storm-averaged diurnal variations and permit stratification of the data in various ways. There is a clearly detectable diurnal variation of precipitation in tropical cyclones with peak rainfall occurring near 0600 local time. For storms of all intensities the amplitude of the diurnal harmonic, which dominates the diurnal cycle, is approximately 7% of the mean rain rate. This corresponds to a peak-to-peak variation of about 15% over the course of the day. The diurnal cycle is similar in all ocean basins. There is evidence that the amplitude of the diurnal cycle increases with increasing storm intensity, but the results are not statistically significant. The results have implications for hurricane forecasting and for a greater understanding of the processes that regulate oceanic convection.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Bowman, K. P., & Fowler, M. D.

citation count

  • 47

complete list of authors

  • Bowman, Kenneth P||Fowler, Megan D

publication date

  • July 2015