Publication Date

Spring 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Gregory Goodrich (Director), Jun Yan, Stuart Foster, and Warren Campbell

Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


The Southeast United States during summer and fall is often affected by droughts and tropical cyclones. Both phenomena rank among the most expensive of natural hazards, although droughts are not as feared by the public as hurricanes. When a tropical cyclone causes a pendulum swing from drought to wet conditions, it is known as a “drought-busting tropical cyclone.” The majority of the research related to drought busting tropical cyclones investigates only the storms during their tropical cyclone phase, which covers the southeastern states that have boundaries adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean. An unanswered question from this literature is whether or not these findings apply to the interior southeastern states that have no ocean boundaries, where there is an increase in the probability of a drought-busting tropical cyclone transitioning to an extra-tropical cyclone. This thesis research attempts to determine the impact of drought-busting cyclones on the states of Kentucky and Tennessee. Research findings in this thesis revealed that droughts occur more frequently in the eastern climate divisions of the study area, 2-3 tropical cyclones affect the study area each year, and 6% of warm-season precipitation comes from tropical cyclones or their remnants. Chi-Square analysis and Kruskal-Wallis tests suggest that the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) has statistically significant relationships with drought frequency, tropical cyclone precipitation, and extra-tropical cyclone precipitation in several climate divisions. While the literature argues that drought-busting tropical cyclones are common in coastal locations, they were found to be rare in Kentucky and Tennessee.


Meteorology | Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology

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