Irene was the most destructive tropical cyclone (TC) of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season due to flooding from rainfall. This study used a Geographic Information System to identify TCs with similar tracks and examine the spatial attributes of their rainfall patterns. Storm-total rainfall was calculated from the Unified Precipitation Dataset for 11 post-1948 storms and statistics corresponding to the top 10% of rainfall values left of track were computed. Irene-type tracks occur every 6.6 years. Floyd (1999) produced the highest rainfall overall and was the closest analog to Irene, yet Irene produced more rainfall in the northeastern U.S. where higher values of precipitable water existed. Areas of high rainfall expanded as five TCs moved north due to synoptic-scale forcing during extratropical transition. However, Irene and three other TCs did not exhibit this pattern. The amount of moisture in the environment surrounding the TC, rather than storm speed or intensity, exhibited the strongest correlations with rainfall totals and their spatial distribution. These results demonstrate the high variability that exists in the production of rainfall among TCs experiencing similar steering flow, and show that advection of moisture from the tropics is key to higher rainfall totals in the mid-latitudes.
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