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Hurricane Season 2010: Frank (Eastern Pacific Ocean)
09.01.10
 
Sept. 1, 2010
NASA's Global Hawk Drone Aircraft Flies Over Frank on the GRIP Hurricane Mission

AIRS image of Frank This infrared image of Frank was taken from NASA's AIRS instrument that flies on the Aqua satellite. It was taken on August 27 at 4:53 p.m. EDT, and showed that Frank had reduced in size, and the only strong convection was limited to the center of the storm (purple). Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen
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NASA's 2010 hurricane experiment is in full swing as the tropics have heated up. NASA's Global Hawk unmanned aircraft was sent out over this past weekend to conduct measurements on then Tropical Storm Frank in the eastern Pacific Ocean, the first ever high-altitude flyover of a tropical cyclone with a UAS (unmanned aircraft system).

NASA's Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) experiment is a NASA Earth science field mission that's happening now out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Southern California and Houston, Texas.

The GRIP campaign consists of three aircraft, 15 instruments and NASA satellites to better understand how tropical storms form and develop into major hurricanes.

At the pre-dawn hour of 5:50 a.m. PDT, Saturday, Aug. 28 the Global Hawk took off autonomously from the runway in the desert at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. and spiraled over the air base to gain high altitude before heading west to the Pacific Ocean. An hour before the takeoff and after a pre-flight briefing, a group of about 20 scientists, engineers, pilots, and technical and aircraft support personnel were at their assigned stations in a specially designed operations room at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards, already monitoring all aspects of the jet's mechanical, electrical, communications, and scientific instrument status. They were prepared to staff, conduct, and monitor this flight for up to 18 hours.

The purpose of the flight was to test the Global Hawk’s capability to overfly the weather conditions that could be expected within a tropical cyclone, and test and evaluate the retrieval of data collected from several sophisticated remote-sensing instruments, including a radar and profilers, and its transmission back to the ground station. The target was a low-pressure system in the Eastern Pacific basin, just southwest of the Baja California peninsula in Mexico that was Hurricane Frank a couple of days before.

Frank as seen from the Global Hawk drone This photo of Tropical Storm Frank was taken from the HDVis camera on the underside of the Global Hawk aircraft on Saturday, Aug. 28, at 5:07 pm EDT as the aircraft approached Frank for the second time. The Global Hawk captured this photo from an altitude of 60,000 ft. (about 11.4 miles) Credit: NASA/NOAA
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The camera on the underside of the Global Hawk provided several photographs of Tropical Storm Frank. As the Global Hawk approached Frank for the second time, flying at an altitude of 60,000 ft., the camera captured one photo on Saturday, Aug. 28 at 5:07 p.m. EDT that showed bands of thunderstorms around Frank's center.

At the time of the image, Frank's maximum sustained winds were near 55 knots (62 mph). Frank was located about 290 miles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and churning in the waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean. Its center was near 19.3 North latitude and 112.2 West longitude. Frank was moving northwest at 6 mph (5 knots) at that time. Frank was weakening due to wind shear.

By Sunday, Aug. 29, 2010 at 10:51 p.m. EDT, Frank had become a remnant low pressure system. The remnant low had an elongated low level circulation with winds to 25 knots (29 mph) in the western quadrant. The winds continued to decrease overnight into Monday. On Monday, Aug. 30 at 5:26 a.m. EDT the National Hurricane Center noted that Frank's remnants were centered near 21 North and 11 West and Frank was dissipating.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center; Mike Black, NOAA/OAR/AOML



August 27, 2010

TRMM data showed moderate (yellow and green) to very heavy rainfall (red) located to the southeast of Frank's eye. > View larger image
This TRMM image of Hurricane Frank's rainfall was captured on August 26 at 0908 UTC (5:08 a.m. EDT). TRMM data showed moderate (yellow and green) to very heavy rainfall (red) located to the southeast of Frank's eye.
Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce
Frank Moving into Tough Conditions, TRMM Satellite Reads Rainfall

Hurricane Frank is forecast to continue slowly weakening as it moves into unfavorable conditions this weekend, but there were areas of very heavy rain in Frank on August 26, indicating it still had some punch left in it.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission or TRMM satellite passed over Hurricane Frank on August 26 and saw moderate rainfall in the storm with some areas of very heavy rainfall, falling as heavily as about 2 inches per hour. TRMM will be keeping an eye on Frank's rainfall over the weekend as the storm progresses north and turns toward southern Baja California. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, Fla. has forecast Frank to drop down to tropical depression status by late Sunday, August 29 and still remain west of and off-shore from the Baja. As of Friday, August 27, there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect for Baja California or western Mexico.

As Frank continues on his northward journey, east-northeasterly wind shear will become moderate and keep battering the storm. Frank is also headed into a more stable atmosphere and coupled with that will be cooler sea surface temperatures. All of those factors will be responsible for weakening Frank into a depression by August 29.

On Friday, August 27 at 5 a.m. EDT, Hurricane Frank's maximum sustained winds were near 80 mph. Frank was located just southeast of Socorro Island, near 18.6 North and 112.1 West. Socorro Island is a small volcanic island in the Revillagigedo Islands, belonging to Mexico. The island is located about 370 miles off of Mexico's western coast. Frank's center was also about 330 miles south-southwest of the southern tip of Baja California. Frank is moving to the west-northwest near 10 mph and had a minimum central pressure of 984 millibars.

On Friday morning, Frank's eye was no longer visible using microwave data and clouds had filled in the center. As the weekend progresses, a gradual decrease in forward speed are expected followed by a turn to the north.For updates on Hurricane Frank's forecasts, go to the National Hurricane Center website over the weekend at: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/. Updates will also be posted on the NASA Hurricane Twitter: twitter.com/NASAHurricane and Facebook page: NASAs-Hurricane-Web-Page.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.



August 26, 2010

Satellite image of Hurricane Frank > View larger image
NASA's AIRS infrared image from August 26 on 09:17 UTC showed very strong convection (purple) happening around the center of Hurricane Frank's circulation, indicating a strong storm.
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
NASA Infrared Satellite Data Confirms Hurricane Frank is Strengthening

Hurricane Frank is moving up the western coast of Mexico as a Category One hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, and NASA infrared satellite imagery has confirmed strong convection and thunderstorms around Frank's center of circulation.

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured an image of Hurricane Frank on August 26 at 09:17 UTC (5:17 a.m. EDT) that showed very strong convection (rapidly rising air that condenses and forms clouds and thunderstorms that power the tropical cyclone) happening around the center of Hurricane Frank's circulation, indicating a strengthening storm. The cloud top temperatures in the infrared imagery were colder than -63 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument that flies on NASA's Terra satellite captured a visible look at Frank's cloud cover yesterday, August 25, 2010 at 12:40 p.m. EDT. That image can be found at: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=45460&src=nha

At 11 a.m. EDT, Hurricane Frank had maximum sustained winds near 85 mph. It was located about 380 miles south of the southern tip of Baja California, near 17.4 North and 109.3 West.

Frank was moving west near 12 mph, and had a minimum central pressure of 981 millibars. Despite the increase in intensity, there are no watches or warnings posted for Mexico as Frank is still far off-shore. Frank's hurricane-force winds only extend a small distance, up to 15 miles from the center, while tropical storm-force winds (39-73 mph) extend as far as 80 miles from the center of circulation.

Frank is expected to maintain intensity and then begin weakening on Friday, as it encounters adverse environmental conditions.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.



August 25, 2010

Frank's clouds and showers have consolidated indicating that the system was strengthening to hurricane status. > View larger image
This AIRS image from August 25 at 08:29 UTC (4:29 a.m. EDT) shows that Frank's coldest, highest clouds (purple) and showers have consolidated indicating that the system was strengthening to hurricane status.
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
Satellite Data Confirm Frank's Jump into Hurricane Status

Tropical Storm Frank has now strengthened into a hurricane in the eastern Pacific Ocean and infrared imagery from NASA's Aqua satellite showed the storm had organized from the previous day. Maximum sustained winds for a Category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale start at 74 mph, and Frank is estimated to be just a bit faster than that.

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that flies aboard the Aqua satellite captured an image today, August 25 at 08:29 UTC (4:29 a.m. EDT), that showed Frank's coldest, highest clouds (purple) and showers have consolidated, indicating that the system was strengthening to hurricane status.

Frank has now become the third hurricane of the Eastern Pacific Ocean season. At 11 a.m. EDT, Frank had maximum sustained winds near 75 mph, and was moving west-northwest near 10 mph. Frank was about 170 miles south of Manzanillo, Mexico, near 16.6 North latitude and 104.8 West longitude. The estimated minimum central pressure was 987 millibars. Frank may even strengthen to a Category 2 hurricane over the next couple of days.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.



This AIRS image from August 24 shows that Frank has moved away from the southwestern Mexico coastline. > View larger image
This AIRS image from August 24 at 20:17 UTC (4:17 p.m. EDT) shows that Frank's cold high clouds (blue and purple) and showers have moved away from the southwestern Mexico coastline. The strongest convection appears (purple) in Frank's northeastern quadrant.
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
NASA Infrared Satellite Data Shows Frank Intensify

Infrared NASA satellite imagery from late yesterday hinted that Tropical Storm Frank would intensify overnight, and it did. Data from the AIRS instrument late yesterday showed some strong thunderstorms and deep convection in Tropical Storm Frank, and that convection deepened early this morning.

NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm Frank's cold clouds yesterday, August 24 at 4:17 p.m. EDT as the Aqua satellite (in which AIRS is housed) flew over the storm. The infrared image revealed some high, cold thunderstorm cloud tops particularly in the northeastern quadrant of the storm (which is typically the strongest quadrant of a tropical cyclone). Overnight, convection increased and by the early morning on Wednesday, August 25, a strong burst of deep convection was occurring over the center of Frank's circulation.

Also early this morning, the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit B (AMSU-B) indicated better organization of the storm and showed well-developed thunderstorm bands and cloud tops as cold as -80 degrees Fahrenheit extending over the western half of Tropical Storm Frank.

The Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) is a multi-channel microwave radiometer installed on meteorological satellites. The instrument examines several bands of microwave radiation from the atmosphere to perform atmospheric sounding of temperature and moisture levels.

At 5 a.m. EDT, Tropical Storm Frank's maximum sustained winds were just under hurricane force at 70 mph. Frank's center was located about 200 miles south-southeast of Manzanillo, Mexico, near 16.2 North and 103.6 West. Frank is far enough away from land that there are no watches and warnings currently in effect. Frank was moving west-northwest near 9 mph, and is expected to keep moving away from land. Frank had a minimum central pressure of 991 millibars.

Some strengthening is possible today, and with Frank on the fringe of hurricane strength (74 mph sustained winds) he could become a hurricane.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.



August 24, 2010

GOES-11 captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm Frank (right), still lingering of southwestern Mexico's coast. > View larger image
On August 24 at 1200 UTC (8 a.m. EDT), GOES-11 captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm Frank (right), still lingering of southwestern Mexico's coast. Frank appears as several large areas of clouds.
Credit: NASA/GOES Project
TRMM's microwave imagery also saw tightly curved bands of thunderstorms wrapping around the center of Frank. > View larger image
TRMM flew over Frank this morning, August 24 at 0924 UTC (5:24 a.m. EDT) and noticed deep convection around Frank's circulation center. TRMM's microwave imagery also saw tightly curved bands of thunderstorms wrapping around the center of Frank. The yellow and green areas indicate moderate rainfall between .78 to 1.57 inches per hour.
Credit: NASA/TRMM, Hal Pierce
NASA Satellites See Tropical Storm Frank Powering Back Up Near Mexico

Tropical Storm Frank was wavering overnight in the eastern Pacific Ocean, just off the southwest Mexican coast, and recent satellite data has confirmed that convection has strengthened within the storm. GOES-11 captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm Frank early this morning and it appeared that the cloud cover was disorganized, but NASA's TRMM satellite looked "under the hood" of the storm and saw Frank powering back up.

At 11 a.m. EDT (8 a.m. PDT) Tropical Storm Frank's winds were near 65 mph. Frank was centered about 145 miles southwest of Acapulco, Mexico near 15.4 North and 101.4 West. That's also about 160 miles south of Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Frank was moving west-northwest at 7 mph and had a minimum central pressure of 994 millibars.

Although Frank's cloud cover appears somewhat disorganized in the infrared imagery from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite known as GOES-11, NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite was able to peer into the storm and see the convection (rapidly rising air that forms the thunderstorms that power a tropical cyclone) was increasing. TRMM flew over Frank this morning, August 24 at 0924 UTC (5:24 a.m. EDT) and noticed deep convection around Frank's circulation center. TRMM's microwave imagery also saw tightly curved bands of thunderstorms wrapping around the center of Frank, and it appeared that they covered about 75 percent of an eye wall (towering clouds and thunderstorms around the open center of a tropical cyclone). Convection has even improved since then, indicating Frank is strengthening again.

Microwave satellite data (such as that that flies on TRMM) was also helpful in determining that Frank is not moving as quickly as previously believed. Frank is now moving west-northwest near 7 mph.

Frank is far enough away from the Mexican coast so that currently, there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect. Despite its distance from land, Frank's rainfall extends over land and is forecast to bring 2 to 4 inches of rainfall over the next several days to south-central and southwestern Mexico as it slowly moves northwest. Isolated maximum amounts of rain up to 8 inches are possible over the higher terrain, and flash floods and mud slides will also be possible.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.



August 23, 2010

satellite image of Frank > View larger image
NASA's Aqua satellite's AIRS instrument captured this infrared image of Tropical Storm Frank on August 22 at 4:05 a.m. EDT and revealed 5 areas of strong convection (purple) and high, thunderstorm clouds in Frank's circulation as cold as -63 Fahrenheit. Higher, colder clouds indicate stronger storms.
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
NASA Sees Strong Thunderstorms in New Tropical Storm Frank, Warnings Up

Tropical Storm Frank powered up very quickly just off of the southwestern coast of Mexico since late Saturday, August 21. NASA infrared satellite data saw some strong areas of convection and powerful thunderstorms in Frank as the storm continues to strengthen.

NASA's Aqua satellite's AIRS instrument captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm Frank on August 22 at 4:05 a.m. EDT and revealed five areas of strong convection and high, thunderstorm clouds in Frank's circulation as cold as -63 Fahrenheit. Higher, colder clouds indicate stronger storms.

On Monday, August 23, a tropical storm warning is in effect for the coast of Mexico from Lagunas de Chacahua westward to Zihuatanejo. That means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere in the warning area within 36 hours. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the coast of Mexico from west of Zihuatanejo to Punta San Telmo.

Tropical depression 9E (TD9E) was located off the southern coast of Mexico late Saturday night, August 21. It developed about 210 miles southeast of Salina Cruz, Mexico. By early on Sunday, August 22 (5 a.m. EDT), TD9E was 230 miles southeast of Puerto Escondido, Mexico and slowly moving away from land, west at 7 mph. On Sunday at 11 a.m. EDT, TD9E became Tropical Storm Frank.

Today at 8 a.m. EDT (5 a.m. PDT), Tropical Storm Frank's maximum sustained winds were up to 60 mph, and strengthening is forecast. Frank is located about 105 miles south-southwest of Escondido, Mexico, near 14.3 North and 97.5 West. It has a minimum central pressure near 998 millibars and is crawling west near 4 mph. Frank is expected to turn to the west-northwest and move parallel to the coast of southern Mexico through Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Frank's tropical storm force winds extend 60 miles out from the center, so the storm is 120 miles in diameter. Those winds will be felt along the coast later today and tomorrow according to the NHC forecast. The biggest threat from Frank is rainfall. With 3 to 6 inches of rainfall expected along the southern coastal region of Mexico, and isolated amounts to 10 inches, flash-flooding and mudslides are a threat.

The NHC anticipates that Frank will become a hurricane by the morning of August 24. After that time, easterly wind shear is expected to increase and Frank would likely begin to weaken. Meanwhile, residents of coastal Mexico need to be ready for today and tomorrow's heavy rainfall.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.