Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2016

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Villarini, Gabriele

First Committee Member

Villarini, Gabriele

Second Committee Member

Bradley, Allen A.

Third Committee Member

Krajewski, Witold F.


Among natural disasters affecting the United States, North Atlantic tropical cyclones (TCs) and hurricanes are responsible for the highest economic losses and are one of the main causes of fatalities. Although we cannot prevent these storms from occurring, skillful seasonal predictions of the North Atlantic TC activity and associated impacts can provide basic information critical to our improved preparedness. Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to predict heavy rainfall and flooding associated with these storms several months in advance, and the lead time is limited to few days at the most. On the other hand, overall North Atlantic TC activity can be potentially predicted with a six- to nine-month lead time.

This thesis focuses on the evaluation of the skill in predicting basin-wide North Atlantic TC activity with a long lead time and rainfall with a short lead time. For the seasonal forecast of TC activity, we develop statistical-dynamical forecasting systems for different quantities related to the frequency and intensity of North Atlantic TCs using only tropical Atlantic and tropical mean sea surface temperatures (SSTs) as covariates. Our results show that skillful predictions of North Atlantic TC activity are possible starting from November for a TC season that peaks in the August-October months.

The short term forecasting of rainfall associated with TC activity is based on five numerical weather prediction (NWP) models. Our analyses focused on 15 North Atlantic TCs that made landfall along the U.S. coast over the period of 2007-2012. The skill of the NWP models is quantified by visual examination of the distribution of the errors for the different lead-times, and numerical examination of the first three moments of the error distribution. Based on our results, we conclude that the NWP models can provide skillful forecasts of TC rainfall with lead times up to 48 hours, without a consistently best or worst NWP model.


Hurricanes, Numerical Weather Prediction Models, Tropical Storms


xviii, 145 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 138-145).


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Copyright © 2016 Beda Nidhi Luitel