Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tropical Storm Fiona (2016)

Storm Active: August 16-23

On August 14, a tropical wave formed near the western coast of Africa and began to produce a large region of disorganized thunderstorm activity. Over the next couple days, the system moved generally west-northwestward and developed a small but vigorous circulation. Late on the 16th, the system was designated Tropical Depression Six. Water temperatures were warm in the region and wind shear was abating. However, as with many tropical cyclones in the central Atlantic, the depression had to contend with low humidity values in the surrounding air that constantly threatened to overwhelm the small system.

On August 17, a small concentrated burst of convection replaced the larger but less powerful banding features, resulting in the cyclone's upgrade to Tropical Storm Fiona. Thunderstorm activity waxed and waned over the next day following the usual cycle by which convection preferentially forms at certain times of day due to solar heating of the ocean and atmosphere. Overall, Fiona's intensity remained virtually unchanged on August 18. Meanwhile, the cyclone moved generally northwest in towards a gap between high pressure systems centered in the east Atlantic and near Bermuda. Wind shear increased somewhat on August 19 but water temperatures continued to climb as Fiona traversed anomalously hot waters in the central Atlantic. As a result, bursts of convection continued to form. Fiona fluctuated in intensity a bit but this state of affairs remained mostly unchanged through the day on August 20. Overnight, the circulation center became exposed again, and the cyclone weakened to a tropical depression. Fiona struggled more to develop a convective canopy on the 21st, but it held its own enough to remain a depression through the day.

Over the following two days, the system continued to wane, with the circulation becoming elongated by August 23. This, coupled with a lack of persistent convection, prompted its downgrade to a remnant low that morning. The low continued west-northwestward for another few days before it dissipated over the western Atlantic.

Tropical Storm Fiona struggled with dry air for most of its lifetime.

Fiona did not approach land at any time during its trek through the central Atlantic.

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