Featured Images

Text Size

Hurricane Season 2012: Tropical Cyclone Jasmine (South Pacific Ocean)
02.16.12
 
NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Storm Jasmine on February 16 at 12:29 UTC (7:29 a.m. EST southeast of Tonga. › View larger image
NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Storm Jasmine on February 16 at 12:29 UTC (7:29 a.m. EST southeast of Tonga. A small cluster of thunderstorms around the center still appeared strong, but cloud top temperatures were warming and Jasmine was weakening.
Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen
NASA Sees Tropical Cyclone Jasmine Fading Quickly

Tropical Cyclone Jasmine moved away from Tonga while maintaining tropical storm status on February 15. Infrared imagery from NASA's Aqua satellite showed some strong convection still remained around the center of circulation on February 16 as the storm continued to weaken.

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite captured an image of Jasmine on February 16 at 12:29 UTC (7:29 a.m. EST southeast of Tonga. A cluster of convection (rapidly rising air that condenses and forms thunderstorms) circled around Jasmine's center and still had some high cloud tops. Some cloud top temperatures were high enough to reach the -63F/-52.7C threshold, but were warming, which indicates a weakening effect.

On February 15, 2012 at 2100 UTC (4 p.m. EST), the Joint Typhoon Warning Center issued its final advisory on Jasmine. At that time Jasmine was located near 23.0 South and 177.3 West. It continued to move in a southerly direction and is expected to dissipate over the next day or two.

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



Feb. 15, 2012

NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Storm Jasmine on February 15 at 13:17 UTC (8:17 a.m. EST). › View larger image
NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Storm Jasmine on February 15 at 13:17 UTC (8:17 a.m. EST). Thunderstorms around the center of circulation appeared strong, and had high cloud tops. Cloud top temperatures were high enough to reach the -63F/-52.7C (purple) threshold, indicating powerful storms.
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
NASA Sees a Rounded Tropical Storm Jasmine Moving Away from Tonga

Tropical Storm Jasmine appears rounded on infrared NASA satellite imagery today as it pulls away from Tonga. Wind shear is currently affecting Jasmine and the evidence appeared on satellite data.

On February 15, 2012 at 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST)Tropical Storm Jasmine had maximum sustained winds near 35 knots (~40 mph/~65 kph). It was a minimal tropical storm. It was centered about 110 nautical miles west of Tonga, near 21.6 South and 177.2 West. It was moving to the west at 4 knots (4.6 mph/7.4 kph).

NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Storm Jasmine on February 15 at 13:17 UTC (8:17 a.m. EST). The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument indicated thunderstorms around the center of circulation appeared strong, and had high cloud tops. Cloud top temperatures were high enough to reach the -63F/-52.7C threshold, indicating powerful storms. Satellite imagery revealed that the low-level circulation center is now partially exposed, and the strongest of those showers and thunderstorms have been pushed to the east of the center due to wind shear.

Observations from Tonga on Feb. 15 at 0900 UTC indicate atmospheric pressure is rising and winds are sustained around 14 knots (16 mph/26 kph), as Jasmine moves away.

South of Jasmine's location, vertical wind shear increases and sea surface temperatures fall below the 80F (26.6C) threshold. Those two factors will contribute to the weakening of the cyclone in the next two days. Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center expect wind shear and cooler waters to bring Jasmine to dissipation by February 17.

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



Feb. 14, 2012

The MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra Satellite captured this infrared image of Cyclone Jasmine near Tonga. › View larger image
On February 14, 2012 at 1241 UTC (7:41 a.m.), the MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra Satellite captured this infrared image of Cyclone Jasmine near Tonga. The strongest thunderstorms and heaviest rainfall appear to be on the northeastern quadrant of the storm.
Credit: NASA/NRL
NASA Sees Tropical Cyclone Jasmine Near Tonga

Tropical Cyclone Jasmine is still lingering near the island nation of Tonga in the South Pacific and was captured in an infrared image from NASA's Aqua satellite. Jasmine is bringing gusty winds and heavy rainfall to some of Tonga's islands.

When Aqua flew over Cyclone Jasmine on February 14, 2012 at 1241 UTC (7:41 a.m.), the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument captured an infrared image of its clouds. The image showed the strongest thunderstorms and heaviest rainfall appear to be on the northeastern quadrant of the storm.

A gale warning is in force for the Tongatapu group of islands. The islands are experiencing gusty winds and heavy rainfall as Jasmine creeps away slowly.

On February 14 at 0900 UTC, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center noted that Jasmine's center was just 25 nautical miles (28.7 miles/46.3 km) west-southwest of Tonga, near 21.3 South and 175.6 West. It was bringing gusty winds and rainfall to Tonga today, and is expected to start moving away to the south at 5 knots (~6 mph/~9 kph). Jasmine's maximum sustained winds were near 45 knots (~52 mph/~83 kph) but it is expected to strengthen a little as it moves away through warmer waters.

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



Feb. 13, 2012

Images from AIRS show the progression and weakening of Cyclone Jasmine over three days. › View larger image
These infrared images from the AIRS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite show the progression and weakening of Cyclone Jasmine over three days. On Feb. 10, AIRS imagery showed that Jasmine had a clear eye and a lot of strong thunderstorms (purple) around its center. The image on Feb. 11 at 13:47 UTC shows a weak circulation, no eye, and a tiny area of strong thunderstorms (purple). On Feb. 12, circulation seems to be slightly better and a banding of thunderstorms is visible east of the center.
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
Tropical Storm Jasmine captured by AIRS on Feb. 12, 2012 as it neared Tonga. › View larger image
This visible image of Tropical Storm Jasmine was captured by the AIRS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite on Feb. 12, 2012 as it neared Tonga.
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
NASA Sees Tropical Storm Jasmine Affecting Tonga

NASA's infrared satellite imagery showed a weak Tropical Storm Jasmine on February 13, bringing breezy conditions and some thunderstorms to some of the islands in the nation of Tonga in the South Pacific Ocean.

Three infrared images from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite showed the progression and weakening of Cyclone Jasmine over three days. On Feb. 10, AIRS imagery showed that Jasmine had a clear eye and a lot of strong thunderstorms (high, cold cloud top temperatures) around its center. The image on Feb. 11 at 13:47 UTC showed a weak circulation, no eye, and a tiny area of strong thunderstorms. On Feb. 12, circulation seemed to be slightly better and a banding of thunderstorms was visible east of the center.

Tonga is a state and an archipelago that is made up of 176 islands scattered over 270,000 square miles (700,000 square kilometers) in the South Pacific Ocean, according to Wikipedia. Fifty-two of the islands are inhabited.

On February 13, 2012, at 11 a.m. EST, weather stations in Niuafoou and Keppel both reported thunderstorms with winds from the west-northwest near 14 mph (22.3 kph) and the northwest at 22 mph (35.4 kph), respectively. Gale warnings are in effect for Tonga include the Tongatapu group of islands.

At 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST) on February 13, the center of Tropical Storm Jasmine was located near 21.9 South and 176.1 West, about 65 nautical miles southwest of Tonga. Jasmine had maximum sustained winds near 35 knots (45 mph/64.8 kph). It was moving to the northeast at 11 knots (12.6 mph/20.3 kph).

Satellite imagery showed that the low-level center of circulation had weak convection, which was east of the center. Displaced convection (rising air that forms thunderstorms that make up the tropical cyclone) means that wind shear is occurring and pushing the thunderstorms away from the center of the storm, and weakening the circulation.

The forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center noted the Jasmine is now beginning to loop, and is later expected to move to the southeast after completing the loop.

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



Feb. 10, 2012

MODIS captured Tropical Cyclone Jasmine on February 10 at 02:10 UTC (Feb 9 at 9:10 p.m. EST). › View larger image
The MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured this visible image of Tropical Cyclone Jasmine in the southern Pacific Ocean on February 10 at 02:10 UTC (Feb 9 at 9:10 p.m. EST). Jasmine's eye is about 60 nautical miles in diameter.
Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team
NASA Sees Wide-Eyed Cyclone Jasmine

Cyclone Jasmine's eye has opened wider on NASA satellite imagery, as it moves through the Southern Pacific Ocean.

On Friday, February 10, 2012 at 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST), Cyclone Jasmine is maintaining Category One hurricane status on the Saffir Simpson Scale, with maximum sustained winds near 75 knots (86 mph/~139 km) . Jasmine is located 550 miles south-southwest of Nadi, Fiji, near 25.8 South and 173.3 East. It is moving to the southeast at 8 knots (9 mph/~15 kph). Jasmine is about 240 nautical miles (276 miles/~445 km) in diameter.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured a visible image of Tropical Cyclone Jasmine in the southern Pacific Ocean on February 10 at 02:10 UTC (Feb 9 at 9:10 p.m. EST). The image indicates that the storm has remained well organized, and Jasmine's eye is now about 60 nautical miles in diameter.

Jasmine is moving along an area of stable and cooler air with stratocumulus clouds. That stable, cool, drier air is starting to weaken the warm, moist tropical cyclone. Cooler sea surface temperatures are also weakening Jasmine.

The storm is expected to gradually move east, then north and may dissipate before reaching Tonga. Residents of Tonga should monitor this storm.

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



Feb. 9, 2012

A 3-D image was created using data from TRMM's Precipitation Radar (PR). Click to view TRMM 3D animation
A 3-D image was created using data from TRMM's Precipitation Radar (PR). The 3-D cutaway image revealed the funnel shaped surface of Jasmine's eye. TRMM PR data also showed that heights of Jasmine's tallest storms then reached to heights of about 11.5 km (~7.1 miles).
Credit: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce
Intense thunderstorms were dropping rain at a rate of over 50mm/hr (~2 inches). › View larger image
Intense thunderstorms in bands wrapping around Jasmine's large circular eye were dropping rain at a rate of over 50mm/hr (~2 inches). This was a daytime pass so the rainfall analysis was overlaid on a visible/infrared image from TRMM's Visible and InfraRed Scanner (VIRS) instrument. Lower visible clouds can be distinguished from higher clouds because they are yellower in this combination image.
Credit: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce
MODIS captured a visible image of Jasmine on February 8, 2012 at 22:45 UTC (5:45 p.m. EST). › View larger image
The MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite captured a visible image of Tropical Cyclone Jasmine between Vanuatu and New Caledonia on February 8, 2012 at 22:45 UTC (5:45 p.m. EST).
Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team
NASA's TRMM Satellite Sees Cyclone Jasmine in 3-D

Data from NASA's TRMM satellite was used to create a 3-Dimensional look at Cyclone Jasmine, currently moving through the South Pacific Ocean.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite is managed by both NASA and the Japanese Space Agency. Using TRMM data, 3-D images of Cyclone Jasmine were created at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The TRMM satellite traveled directly above tropical cyclone Jasmine in the South Pacific Ocean on February 8, 2012 at 2156 UTC (4:56 p.m. EST). Jasmine was classified as a powerful category 4 on the Saffir Simpson Scale with wind speeds of 115 kts (~132 mph) at its peak intensity but had started to weaken at the time of this pass.

A 3-D image was created using data from TRMM's Precipitation Radar (PR). The 3-D cutaway image revealed the funnel shaped surface of Jasmine's eye. TRMM PR data also showed that heights of Jasmine's tallest storms then reached to heights of about 11.5 km (~7.1 miles).

Rainfall from TRMM's Microwave Imager (TMI) and Precipitation Radar (PR) instruments showed that intense thunderstorms in bands wrapping around Jasmine's large circular eye were dropping rain at a rate of over 50mm/hr (~2 inches). This was a daytime pass so the rainfall analysis was overlaid on a visible/infrared image from TRMM's Visible and InfraRed Scanner (VIRS) instrument.

Infrared imagery from instruments like the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on NASA's Aqua satellite revealed that cloud top temperatures in Jasmine have been warming since early morning on February 9, 2012. That's an indication that the system is losing strength and the cloud tops are falling.

Jasmine is a small cyclone, only about 90 nautical miles (103.6 miles/166.7 km)in diameter, and the eye is about 20 nautical miles (23.2 miles/37 km) wide.

On February 9, 2012 at 0900 UTC, Jasmine's maximum sustained winds were near 105 knots (120.8 mph/194.5 kph). Jasmine was about 275 nautical miles (316.5 miles/509.3 km) east-southeast of Noumea, New Caledonia near 28.8 South and 171.4 East. Jasmine is moving to the south-southeast around 10 knots (11.5 mph/18.5 kph).

Jasmine is expected to move over cooler waters and encounter drier air, two factors that will further weaken the storm.

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
















Feb. 8, 2012

MODIS captured a true color image of Jasmine on Feb. 8, 2012 at 0225 UTC (Feb. 7 at 9:25 p.m. EST). › View larger image
NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Cyclone Jasmine on Feb. 8, 2012 at 0225 UTC (Feb. 7 at 9:25 p.m. EST). The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument captured a true color image of the storm. In the image, Jasmine's eye as visible as it travels between Vanuatu (north) and New Caledonia (south).
Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team
NASA Sees Tropical Cyclone Jasmine Over Vanuatu and New Caledonia

NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Cyclone Jasmine on Feb. 8, 2012 as it was passing between Vanuatu and New Caledonia. NASA imagery showed Jasmine had a 20 nautical mile-wide eye.

Aqua passed over Jasmine at 0225 UTC on February 8, 2012 (Feb. 7 at 9:25 p.m. EST). The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument captured a true color image of the storm. In the image, Jasmine's eye as visible as it travels between Vanuatu, that lies to the north of it, and New Caledonia that lies to Jasmine's south. Satellite data shows that the eye is 20 nautical miles (23 miles/37 km) in diameter and bands of thunderstorms feeding into the center of circulation.

Later on February 8 at 0600 UTC (1 a.m. EST), Cyclone Jasmine had maximum sustained winds near 115 knots (132 mph/213 kph). It was located near 20.6 South and 169.4 East, about 185 nautical miles (213 miles/~343 km) east-northeast of Noumea, New Caledonia. It was moving to the southeast at 12 knots (~14 mph/~22 kph).

In Vanuatu, a blue alert was in effect on February 8 for the Tafea province and now only applies to Aneityum. Warnings in New Caledonia cover the entire territory until 6 a.m. local time, and are under a yellow pre-alert.

Forecasters believe that Jasmine may have reached its peak windspeed and expect it to slowly weaken over the week.

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



Feb. 7, 2012

This infrared image was taken from the AIRS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite, on February 7, 2012 at 03:17 UTC. › View larger image
This infrared image was taken from the AIRS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite, on February 7, 2012 at 03:17 UTC. Jasmine's strongest thunderstorms are close to the center of circulation and in bands of thunderstorms to the north and east of center, (purple) where cloud top temperatures are below -63 F (-52.7C).
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
NASA Sees Cyclone Jasmine's Power and New Eye

Cyclone Jasmine continues to wind between New Caledonia and Vanuatu and bring cyclone-force winds, heavy rain and very rough surf. NASA's Aqua satellite passed overhead early on February 7 and noticed the strongest part of the cyclone was around the center and north and east of the center, and noticed that an eye has developed.

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Jasmine on February 7, 2012 at 03:17 UTC (2:17 p.m., Pacific/Noumea local time/Feb 6, 10:17 p.m. EST). Jasmine's strongest thunderstorms were close to the center of circulation and in bands of thunderstorms to the north and east of center, where cloud top temperatures are below -63 F (-52.7C). Those were the areas experiencing the heaviest rainfall. Satellite data also revealed a ragged-looking eye about 24 nautical miles (27.6 miles/44.5 km) in diameter.

On February 7, a Yellow Alert remains current for Malampa, Shefa and Tafea Provinces of Vanuatu. The New Caledonia warnings included an orange alert for the Loyalty Islands, and the rest of the territory is on yellow pre-alert.

On February 7 at 0900 UTC, Jasmine has maximum sustained winds near 100 knots (115 mph/185 kph). It was located about 220 nautical miles (253.2 miles/407.4 km) north-northwest of Noumea, New Caledonia near 18.9 South and 165.2 East. Jasmine was moving to the southeast at 16 knots (18.4 mph/29.6 kph).

Jasmine continues to gain strength as it zig-zags slightly to the east-southeast and is expected to weaken later in the week.

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



TRMM rainfall estimates for the state of Queensland are shown for the period from January 27 to February 6, 2012. › View larger image
TRMM satellite rainfall estimates for the state of Queensland are shown above for the ten day period from January 27 to February 6, 2012. The highest amounts of extreme rainfall (shown in purple), totaling more than 520 mm (~20.5 inches), extend from the Gulf of Carpentaria over the Cape York Peninsula. This analysis shows another area south of Mackay along Australia's coast with rainfall totaling over 480 mm (~18.9 inches).
Credit: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce
NASA's TRMM Satellite Measures Flooding Rains from Australia Monsoon

A monsoon trough continues to drench northeastern Australia and NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite measured and calculated the rainfall in the region.

Low pressure centers associated with a summer monsoon trough have repeatedly drenched Australia from central Queensland to northern New South Wales. The clockwise rotation of these low pressure centers have continued to pump warm moist air from the Coral Sea over these areas resulting in severe flooding. Thousands of Australians have been displaced by this flooding.

A Tropical cyclone called Jasmine originated as a low pressure center over the Cape York Peninsula. Jasmine was upgraded to a tropical cyclone on February 6, 2012. Jasmine is in the Coral Sea well east of Australia, moving eastward and is predicted to strike Vanuatu on February 8th, 2012.

Data from the TRMM satellite are used to calibrate rainfall data merged from various satellite sources. This TRMM-based, near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. is used to monitor rainfall over the global Tropics. TMPA rainfall estimates for the state of Queensland were calculated for the ten day period from January 27 to February 6, 2012. The highest amounts of extreme rainfall (shown in purple), totaling more than 520 mm (~20.5 inches), extend from the Gulf of Carpentaria over the Cape York Peninsula. This analysis shows another area south of Mackay along Australia's coast with rainfall totaling over 480 mm (~18.9 inches).

Parts of the town on St George in southern Queensland were advised to evacuate. Runoff from extreme rainfall has swollen the Balonne River.

The current La Nina conditions are predicted to continue causing heavier than normal rainfall over northeastern Australia.

Text Credit: Hal Pierce and Steve Lang
SSAI/NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.



Feb. 6, 2012

MODIS captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm Jasmine at 1202 UTC (7:02 a.m. EST) › View larger image
The MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm Jasmine at 1202 UTC (7:02 a.m. EST) moving through the South Pacific Ocean. The image showed bands of thunderstorms spiraling into the center from the north and east.
Credit: NASA/NRL
NASA Satellite Sees Cyclone Jasmine Heading for Vanuatu, New Caledonia

NASA's Aqua satellite passed over strengthening Tropical Storm Jasmine and noticed bands of thunderstorms wrapping into its center as it heads toward Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

Vanuatu and New Caledonia are island nations in the South Pacific Ocean. Vanuatu is about 1,090 miles (1,750 km) east of northern Australia, and 310 miles (500 km) northeast of New Caledonia. New Caledonia is an archipelago and has a land area of 7,172 sq miles (18,576 square km). The current forecast track for Tropical Cyclone Jasmine takes it between the two island nations.

Tropical Storm Jasmine formed on February 4, 2012 in the South Pacific Ocean when the low pressure area called System 95P strengthened. By February 5, Jasmine's maximum sustained winds were near 45 knots (~52 mph/~83 kph). On Monday, February 6, Jasmine had strengthened and had maximum sustained winds near 60 knots (69 mph/111 kph). It is expected to continue intensifying and should reach cyclone strength before weakening.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA's Terra satellite captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm Jasmine at 1202 UTC (7:02 a.m. EST) moving through the South Pacific Ocean. The image showed bands of thunderstorms spiraling into the center from the north and east, where the strongest thunderstorms are located.

On January 6, 2012 at 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST), Jasmine was about 525 nautical miles northwest of Noumea, New Caledonia, near 17.2 South latitude and 158.9 East longitude. Jasmine is moving to the east near 14 knots (~16 mph/~26 kph). Satellite data indicates that the storm is larger than 300 nautical miles (345 miles/~556 km) in diameter (the extent of tropical-storm-force winds).

Jasmine is moving toward Vanuatu and New Caledonia and strengthening as it moves east. It is expected to bring hurricane-force winds to Vanuatu by February 7 and its center is expected to pass between Vanuatu and New Caledonia on February 8, 2012.

The Vanuatu Meteorological Service has issued a Blue Alert for the Malampa and Shefa Provinces, expecting very rough surf, heavy rainfall, flooding and damaging winds. Updated forecasts can be found at: http://www.meteo.gov.vu/. New Caledonia is currently under pre-hurricane alert. For updates to the New Caledonia advisories: http://www.meteo.nc/.

Jasmine is expected to undergo extra-tropical transitioning as it moves between Fiji and New Zealand later in the week.

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



Feb. 3, 2012

95P has strong thunderstorms with very high cloud tops and cold temperatures around its center of circulation. › View larger image
System 95P looks ripe for development. Located 25 nm east-southeast of Cairns, Australia today, it has some strong thunderstorms with very high cloud tops and cold temperatures (purple) around its center of circulation. This image was captured on Feb. 2, 2012 at 15:29 UTC (10:29 a.m. EST) from the AIRS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite.
Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen
These 2 AIRS images show the movement of the clouds and showers associated with System 95P (purple and blue). › View larger image
These 2 infrared images from the AIRS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite show the movement of the clouds and showers associated with System 95P (purple and blue) over two days. System 95P moved over northern Queensland on Feb. 2 at 1529 UTC and Feb. 3 at 0341 UTC and is now over open waters.
Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen
NASA Infrared Scan Shows Developing Tropical Cyclone Cross Queensland

A monsoonal low pressure area called System 95P has tracked across northern Queensland, Australia and has entered the warm waters of the Coral Sea where it could develop. NASA's infrared satellite imagery showed some strong convection in the system, hinting that it's strengthening.

On February 2, the low pressure area moved from the Gulf Carpentaria across the Cape York Peninsula. As it crossed from west to east it brought gale-force winds and dropped more than 7.5 inches (~200 millimeters) of rain in certain areas. Warnings and river height bulletins from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology are available at http://www.bom.gov.au/qld/flood/.

On February 3, the center of System 95P was located just off the coast of Cairns, near 17.1 South latitude and 146.2 East longitude. Located 25 nm (28.7 miles/46.3 km) east-southeast of Cairns, NASA infrared imagery revealed that it has some strong thunderstorms with very high cloud tops and cold temperatures around its center of circulation. An image from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument taken on Feb. 2, 2012 at 15:29 UTC (10:29 a.m. EST) confirmed the cooling cloud top temperatures and strengthening thunderstorms. The AIRS instrument flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite. AIRS imagery from February 3 showed deep convection (rapidly rising air that forms thunderstorms) and strong thunderstorms over northern Queensland.

A weather station from nearby Cooktown showed a minimum central surface pressure of 993 millibars. Higher up in the atmosphere, vertical wind shear is low, which will allow the low to intensify and organize. In addition, sea surface temperatures are well over the 26.6 Celsius (80F) threshold needed to power a tropical cyclone.

Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center give System 95P a high chance of becoming a tropical depression over the weekend, especially now that it is over warm waters. The forecast track takes it away from land over the next couple of days.

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