October 4, 2010
TRMM Satellite Sees Tropical Moisture Bring Heavy Rain, Flooding To U.S. East Coast
Hurricane Season 2010: Tropical Storm Nicole (Atlantic Ocean)
A deep, stationary trough of low pressure parked over the Ohio and Tennessee valleys west of the Appalachians drew a steady stream of tropical moisture, including the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole, up the East Coast. The results were heavy rain and flooding from Florida to the coastal Carolinas up into the Chesapeake Bay region and NASA's TRMM satellite captured rainfall from the event.
Rain first broke out across the U.S. Southeast as a slow moving front approached from the northwest. The front then became stationary along the eastern seaboard, providing a focus for ongoing showers and thunderstorms. In the meantime, an area of low pressure in the northwestern Caribbean began to organize and eventually formed into Tropical Storm Nicole. After passing over Cuba, Nicole weakened and lost its identity off the east coast of Florida, but the moisture from the storm was absorbed into the frontal system, which was already producing heavy rain along the East Coast.
The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (or TRMM) satellite was launched back in November of 1997 with the primary mission of measuring rainfall from space using a combination of passive microwave and active radar sensors. TRMM can also be used to calibrate rainfall estimates from other satellites for expanded coverage.
The TRMM-based, near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center provides estimates of rainfall over the global Tropics. TMPA rainfall totals are shown here for the East Coast of the United States down to the northwest Caribbean for the period from September 24 to October 1, 2010.
The highest rainfall totals for the period are over Jamaica where upwards of 550 mm of rain fell (~22 inches) as a result of Nicole's interaction with the island's terrain. The highest totals along the East Coast occurred over coastal North Carolina where up to 500 mm of rain (~20 inches) fell. Almost all of eastern North Carolina received at least 200 to 250 mm of rain (~8 to 10 inches).
Numerous areas from northern Florida all the way up into central Pennsylvania received at least 100 mm (~4 inches) of rain with several areas in excess of 150 to 200 mm of rain (~6 to 8 inches). Locally, upwards of 9 inches of rain were reported around the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and just over 20 inches in parts of North Carolina.
Although the rain ended a dry spell for the region, 4 deaths are being blamed on the storm in North Carolina. In Jamaica, 12 people are reported to have died as a result of Tropical Storm Nicole.
TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.
SSAI/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
, Greenbelt, Md.
October 1, 2010
GOES-13 Sees an Unholy Matrimony: Nicole and Low Pressure Swamp the U.S. East Coast
In a "marriage" that U.S. east coast residents would object to, the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole coupled with an upper level low pressure area have dumped record rainfall from the Carolinas to New England on Sept. 30. The GOES-13 Satellite captured that massive "union" of a system as it begins to push off the northeastern U.S. coast today, Oct. 1.
At 1401 UTC (10:01 a.m. EDT) on Oct. 1, the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite called GOES-13 captured a visible image of the extensive cloud cover of this coupled system. The GOES image shows the system's cloud cover stretches from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada, over New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, then southeast over the Atlantic all the way to Puerto Rico.
The GOES series of satellites are managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and GOES-13 keeps an eye on the weather over the eastern half of the U.S. NASA's GOES Project, located at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. uses the data from the GOES satellites and creates images and animations of weather systems.
NOAA's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center noted on Friday, Oct. 1, that "Heavy rains will continue to drench the northeastern (U.S.) coast throughout the day Friday. The east coast deluge will finally draw to a close in the early hours Saturday morning."
The frontal boundary had lingered over the U.S. east coast for over 24 hours and is forecast to push off-shore late Saturday, clearing skies behind it as cold, Canadian high pressure will build in.
Some of the rainfall totals were impressive from Sept. 30. The Baltimore Washington International Airport recorded a record-breaking 6.02 inches of rain. That's about one and a half months of rainfall in 24 hours. Washington D.C.'s Reagan National Airport recorded 4.66 inches of rain, also breaking a record for that day.
To the west, Martinsburg, W.Va. received 3.29 inches of rain yesterday. Further south, Norfolk Va. International Airport recorded 7.85 inches of rainfall while Richmond, Va. broke a record with 3.69 inches of rain. New Bern, N.C. received a record-breaking 8.93 inches while in Jacksonville, N.C., a foot of rain fell in six hours during the morning hours.
As the system moved northward on Sept. 30, its heavy rainfall had not yet been totally experienced, but it still broke records. Its rainfall there today is expected to create more records. On Sept. 30, however, Newark, N.J. received 1.21" of rain in 24 hours and broke a record. The National Weather Service reported that Bridgeport, Conn. received 0.73 inches, which established a new record for rainfall on Sept. 30.
On Oct. 1, GOES-13 satellite imagery showed that the system was still drenching Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts today. Although this unholy union of the upper-level low and Nicole's remnants are expected to be off the coast and over the Atlantic Ocean late Saturday, there are other rainmakers in the tropics that NASA is watching.
At NASA Goddard, one of the images created from GOES satellite imagery is called a "full-disk" image. In today's full-disk image there are two other areas of tropical disturbances that have caught the attention of forecasters.
One area of disturbed weather is called "System 97L" and it contains disorganized showers and thunderstorms. That low pressure area is about 900 miles of the Lesser Antilles in the Atlantic Ocean. The system is moving west at between 15 and 20 mph. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center noted that the upper-level winds are expected to weaken near this system, allowing for more development over the weekend. They've given System 97L a 40 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression over the weekend.
The other area of disturbed weather has a much lesser chance of developing over the weekend. That is a broad trough of low pressure in the Northern Caribbean. A trough is an elongated area of low pressure, just like the one that lingered over the eastern U.S. and brought the deluge. This second low pressure area doesn't appear to be developing. However, it is expected to bring locally heavy rainfall over the weekend to northern Central America, the Cayman Islands, eastern Cuba, Jamaica and Hispaniola and that will keep the GOES-13 satellite busy.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
, Greenbelt, Md.
September 30, 2010
NASA Satellites See Nicole Become a Remnant, Another Low Soaking U.S. East Coast
Tropical Storm Nicole was a tropical storm for around 6 hours before it weakened into a remnant low pressure area and is now off the Florida coast. NASA Satellite imagery captured different views of Nicole's clouds as the system weakened back into a low pressure area.
While Nicole weakened, a huge trough of low pressure over the U.S. eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine has become the key weathermaker there. The trough, an elongated area of low pressure, is streaming tropical moisture from Nicole's remnants and the Gulf of Mexico, bringing high rainfall totals and severe weather up and down the coast.
At 2 a.m. EDT on Sept. 30, Nicole's remnant low was still 35 miles east of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and about 65 miles west-southwest of Freeport, the Bahamas. Nicole's remnants are forecast to merge with the giant trough (an elongated area of low pressure) later today or early Friday. Nicole's remnants, barely discernable on satellite imagery now because of the huge trough to its west, will still be bringing locally heavy rainfall over the Bahamas. There's just a 10 percent chance it will regenerate as a subtropical cyclone in the next 24 hours.
The GOES-13 satellite captured a visible image of the extensive cloud cover of the trough (elongated area of low pressure) all along the U.S. East coast on Sept. 30 at 1345 UTC (9:45 a.m. EDT) that is feeding off tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, and Nicole's remnants. GOES satellites are operated by NOAA and the NASA GOES Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. uses the satellite data to create images and animations.
NASA's CloudSat satellite passed through the western section of Tropical Storm Nicole on September 29, 2010 at 0727 UTC (3:27 a.m. EDT). CloudSat captured an image of the elongated storm system when it was located between Cuba and Florida was in the beginning stages of tropical cyclone formation. CloudSat imagery noticed that low level cyclonic circulation was developing around the low pressure area, as it was being fueled by warm sea surface temperatures.
The CloudSat image captured areas of light cumulus precipitation mixed with a stream of mid- level cloudiness, most likely altocumulus and altostratus. Deep mid-level flow from the south-southwest was evident in the image, occurring from the inclination of the clouds towards the north-northeast.
On Sept. 28 at 18:20 UTC 2:20 p.m. EDT the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite captured a visible image of Tropical Storm Nicole over Cuba before it weakened back into a tropical depression. Nicole was already losing her cyclonic shape at that time.
The National Hurricane Center issued its final official forecast for Nicole on Sept. 29 at 5 p.m. EDT. At that time, Nicole had maximum sustained winds near 40 mph. It was about 175 miles east-northeast of Havana, Cuba and 165 miles west of Nassau near 24.5 North and 80.0 West. It was moving north-northeast near 12 mph and had a minimum central pressure of 996 millibars. At that time, it had degenerated into an elongated area of low pressure and the National Hurricane Center noted that the ill-defined low had become untrackable.
Forecasters are also watching a low pressure area in the eastern Caribbean. A large area of disturbed weather associated with two tropical waves is about 800 miles east of the Windward Islands. The showers and thunderstorms in it are currently disorganized but it is expected to move into more favorable conditions. It currently has a 30 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression in the next 48 hours, so Cuba is watching it closely after being soaked by Nicole.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
, Greenbelt, Md.
September 29, 2010
NASA Uses 3 Satellites to See Strengthening Tropical Storm Nicole
NASA is providing data from three satellites to give forecasters valuable information on newly strengthened Tropical Storm Nicole. Nicole was Tropical Depression 16 until 11 a.m. EDT, Sept. 29 and NASA data helped confirm her new designation. Satellite data from NASA showed frigid thunderstorm cloud top temperatures, heavy rainfall, and extensive cloud cover as Nicole strengthened.
The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument uses infrared technology to take a tropical cyclone's temperature. AIRS sits on NASA's Aqua satellite and captured an image of those cloud top temperatures on Sept. 29 at 0723 UTC (3:23 a.m. EDT) revealing very high thunderstorms around Nicole's center, colder than -65 Fahrenheit.
NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite (a satellite shared with the Japanese Space Agency) captured the rainfall within Nicole on Sept. 28 as 1447 UTC (10:47 a.m. EDT) when she was Tropical Depression 16, and at that time noticed several areas of very heavy rainfall, falling at a rate of more than 2 inches per hour around the south and eastern sides of the storm's center of circulation. That heavy rainfall continues today, Sept. 29. TRMM will be closely monitoring Nicole with the expected accumulations of 5 to 10 inches over the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Cuba and even isolated amounts up to 20 inches are possible over the higher elevations of Cuba and Jamaica.
The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite called GOES-13 captured a visible image of Tropical Storm Nicole today, Sept. 29 at 1432 UTC (10:32 a.m. EDT). GOES satellites are managed by NOAA. NASA's GOES Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. creates images and animations from the satellite data and created today's image that shows the extensive cloud cover (which is also associated with an elongated area of low pressure called a trough) extending north into the Mid-Atlantic U.S. states. The imagery also showed relatively clear skies over the eastern Atlantic which is due to a high pressure area stationed there, which is forcing Tropical Storm Nicole to the north.
At 11 a.m. EDT, Tropical Depression 16 strengthened into Tropical Storm Nicole. Nicole's maximum sustained winds were near 40 mph. Satellite data is observed the strongest winds in Nicole are occurring in the south and southeastern quadrants of the storm. It was centered near Cuba, about 120 miles east-southeast of Havana, Cuba or 260 miles southwest of Nassau, the Bahamas near 22.6 North and 80.6 West. Nicole was moving northeast near 9 mph. It had a minimum central pressure of 996 millibars.
The National Hurricane Center now expects Nicole to stay just east of Florida, so all of the watches and warnings for Florida have been dropped. On the forecast track the center of Nicole will move over the florida straits during the afternoon today (Sept. 29) and move near or over the northwestern Bahamas tonight. Tropical Storm warnings that are in effect include the Cayman Islands, Provinces of Cuba from Matanzas eastward to Ciego de Avila and the northwestern and central Bahamas.
What's in Store for the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Cuba and Florida?
The National Hurricane Center has noted that Nicole is going to drop extreme amounts of rainfall. Nicole is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 5 to 10 inches over the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Cuba. Isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches are possible over the higher elevations of Cuba and Jamaica. These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides. Rain accumulations of 4 to 8 inches are possible over portions of southern Florida, the Florida Keys and the central and northwest Bahamas. Tropical storm conditions are expected in the warning areas today and tonight. Also, isolated tornadoes are possible along the immediate coast of southeastern Florida and the Florida Keys today.
Nicole is expected to become an extra-tropical storm later today and move northward along the U.S. east coast over the next couple of days.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
, Greenbelt, Md.
September 28, 2010
NASA Sees Colder Cloud-Top Temps in New Tropical Depression 16, Warnings Up
NASA's Aqua satellite has peered into the cloud tops of System 96L in the western Caribbean early this morning and noticed that they've become colder and higher, which indicated the storms was strengthening and organizing. Just over eight hours later, the new Tropical Depression 16 was born, and now has the potential to become a tropical storm before it merges with an elongated area of low pressure near the Florida late on Wednesday.
Tropical Depression 16 was officially named this morning, Sept. 28 at 11 a.m. EDT by NOAA's National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla. Many watches and warnings have also already been posted this morning. At 11 a.m. Tropical Depression 16's center was about 180 miles south of Havana, Cuba and 390 miles south-southwest of Miami, Fla. near 20.6 North latitude and 82.5 West longitude. It is moving north-northeast near 10 mph and had maximum sustained winds near 35 mph. Its minimum central pressure was 1001 millibars.
The government of the Cayman Islands has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for all of the Cayman Islands. The government of Cuba has issued s Tropical Storm Warning for the Cuban provinces from Mantanzas eastward to Ciego De Avila. The government of the Bahamas has issued a tropical storm warning for the Northwestern and Central Bahamas. This Warning Includes the Abacos, Andros Island, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island, New Providence, Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay, and San Salvador.
In the U.S., Florida is under a Tropical Storm Warning and Watch. A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for the Florida coast from Jupiter Inlet southward to East Cape Sable, and for all of the Florida Keys, including Florida Bay and the Dry Tortugas. A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the west coast of Florida from north of east Cape Sable to Chokoloskee and for the east coast of Florida from north of Jupiter Inlet to Sebastian Inlet.
The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder instrument, known as AIRS has the ability to determine cloud top and sea surface temperatures from its position in space aboard NASA's Aqua satellite. Cloud top temperatures help forecasters know if a storm is strengthening or weakening. When cloud top temperatures get colder it means that they're getting higher into the atmosphere which means the "uplift" of warm, moist air is stronger and it will form stronger thunderstorms (that power a tropical cyclone). When cloud-top temperatures warm up it means that the cloud tops are lower than they were before, indicating that the storm is weakening.
When the Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Depression 16 (TD16) from space on Sept. 28 at 0635 UTC (2:35 a.m. EDT) the AIRS instrument took the temperature of the cloud tops in the storm and found them to be as cold as or colder than -63 Fahrenheit throughout a very large area within TD16, indicating the storm had a good amount of energy to power it up. The area of strong thunderstorms in the AIRS images is quite large, and TD16 is already raining on western Cuba.
The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite known as GOES-13 flew over Tropical Depression 16 on Sept. 28 at 1425 UTC (10:25 a.m. EDT) as it strengthening into a depression. GOES-13's visible imagery showed a large extent of cloud cover, spanning over Cuba and Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and northeastward into south Florida.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, Fla. noted this morning, Sept. 28 at 8 a.m. EDT that TD16 is going to bring some heavy rains and squally conditions in the Caribbean. NHC said, "Heavy rains and strong gusty winds to tropical storm force are expected to affect the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Cuba today. These weather conditions are likely to spread over the Florida Keys, southern Florida and the northwestern Bahamas later today and Wednesday."
During the morning hours of Sept. 28, the strongest winds were happening about a couple of hundred miles east and south of the Isle of Youth, Cuba and Grand Cayman. If TD16 strengthens into a tropical storm, it would be named Nicole.
South-southwesterly vertical wind shear associated with a large upper-level trough moving into the southeastern U.S. is expected to limit the storm's intensification, although it is near tropical storm-force this morning. The projected track of the TD16 takes it in a north-northeasterly direction across Cuba toward southeastern Florida.
Meanwhile, there's another female named storm that's still making waves in the Atlantic Ocean basin, Julia. However, Julia is just a remnant low pressure area and is about 150 miles south-southeast of Bermuda. This remnant low is moving west-northwest near 15 mph and is not in a good environment for redevelopment. The NHC gives Julia's remnants a meager ten percent chance of redeveloping in the next 48 hours, so TD16 is the one to watch.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
, Greenbelt, Md.