Feature

Text Size

Tropical Storm Rafael (Atlantic Ocean)
10.18.12
 
Visible image of Hurricane Rafael in the North Atlantic taken by MODIS on Oct. 17 › View larger image
This visible image of Hurricane Rafael in the North Atlantic was taken from the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite on Oct. 17 at 1440 UTC (10:40 a.m. EDT). Rafael's northwestern fringe clouds were brushing Nova Scotia, Canada (top left).
Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team
NASA Catches Last Image of Rafael as a Hurricane, Now Merged with Front

Hurricane Rafael is no longer a tropical cyclone. The storm merged with a cold front on Oct. 18, but not before NASA's Terra satellite captured an image of the storm when it was in its last day as a hurricane.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA's Terra captured a visible image of Hurricane Rafael in the North Atlantic on Oct. 17 at 1440 UTC (10:40 a.m. EDT). Although Rafael was far from land, its northwestern fringe clouds were brushing Nova Scotia, Canada.

By 5 p.m. EDT on Oct. 17, Rafael had become extra-tropical, meaning that its core changed from a warm system to a cold system, just like a typical mid-latitude low pressure system. At that time, Rafael had maximum sustained winds near 75 mph (120 kph). It was centered near 40.2 North latitude and 56.5 West longitude, about 475 miles (750 km) southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Rafael was moving to the northeast at 35 mph (56 kph). Turn toward the east-northeast with some increase in forward speed later today, Oct 18.

The National Hurricane Center noted that ocean swells generated by the cyclone are expected to affect the coast of eastern Canada during today and tomorrow. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip currents.

By 5 p.m. EDT on Oct. 18, the cold front was found to be merged with the tropical cyclone, making it extra-tropical. Rafael is expected to complete a cyclonic loop around a deep-layer low over the north-central Atlantic day or two and ride into hurricane history.

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



Oct. 17, 2012

NASA's TRMM satellite image of Tropical Storm Rafael on Oct. 17, 2012. › View larger image
When NASA's TRMM satellite passed over Tropical Storm Rafael on Oct. 17 at 0028 UTC (8:28 p.m. EDT on Oct. 16), it was producing a large area of light to moderate rainfall (green and blue) falling at a rate between .78 to 1.57 inches/20 to 40 mm per hour. The heaviest precipitation was shown by TRMM to be northeast of Bermuda. Some intense rain bands were dropping rain at a rate of over 60 mm/hour (~2.4 inches). Rafael's past and predicted path is shown overlaid in white.
Credit: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce
NASA Sees Hurricane Rafael Producing Rain over a Large Area

NASA satellite data revealed that Hurricane Rafael is raining over a large area in the Atlantic Ocean, equivalent to the distance between Massachusetts and Virginia.

NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite captured rainfall data on Rafael on Oct. 16 and 17 when it passed overhead. The first orbit was on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 2250 UTC (6:50 p.m. EDT). The second pass occurred on Wed., Oct. 17 at 0028 UTC (8:28 p.m. EDT on Oct.16).

TRMM's Microwave Imager (TMI) and Precipitation Radar (PR) data showed that Rafael was producing rainfall over a large area of the Atlantic. TRMM showed that Bermuda was getting light to moderate rain showers when Rafael's center was southeast of the island. TRMM data showed that the heaviest precipitation was northeast of Bermuda where some intense bands of thunderstorms were dropping rain at a rate of over 60 mm/hour (~2.4 inches).

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 310 miles (500 km). Rafael is about 620 miles in diameter, about the distance from Boston, Mass. to Richmond, Va.

At 11 a.m. EDT on Oct. 17, the center of Hurricane Rafael was about 545 miles (875 km) south-southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, near 37.5 North and 59.1 West. It was speeding to the north-northeast near 35 mph (56 kph) and is expected to turn toward the east-northeast on Oct. 18. Rafael's maximum sustained winds were near 75 mph (120 kph), just over the hurricane threshold, but it is expected to lose its tropical characteristics later today and weaken.

Swells will continue to affect Bermuda, eastern Canada, and parts of the U.S. over the next few days. These could cause life-threatening surf and rip-currents.

Rafael is expected to continue speeding toward the northeast over the open waters of the north Atlantic and become a strong extra-tropical low later on Oct. 17.

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



Oct. 16, 2012

visible image of a tropical storm spiraling off the Eastern Seaboard near Cuba › View larger image
NOAA's GOES-14 satellite captured this visible image of Tropical Storm Rafael in the Atlantic on Oct. 16 at 7:45 a.m. EDT. The cold front located (top left) northwest of Rafael will play a big part in what happens to the hurricane.
Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project
Satellite Sees Large Hurricane Rafael Battering Bermuda

Hurricane Rafael is a large hurricane and Bermuda has battened down for Rafael's battering today, Oct. 16. NOAA's GOES-14 satellite revealed Rafael's large span that covers several hundred miles and dwarfs Bermuda.

NOAA's GOES-14 satellite captured a visible image of Tropical Storm Rafael in the Atlantic on Oct. 16 at 7:45 a.m. EDT. The image shows the extent of Hurricane Rafael, which is over 410 miles in diameter. That's longer than the distance between Boston and Washington, D.C. The visible image also showed a thick row of clouds northwest of Rafael. Those clouds are associated with a cold front that just moved off the U.S. east coast and they will play a role in pushing Rafael to the east and draw Rafael into the front.

Infrared satellite data also revealed that the coldest cloud top temperatures (indicating the highest cloud tops and strongest thunderstorms) shifted west of Rafael's center. Those strongest thunderstorms and coldest cloud tops appear as the brightest white area of clouds in the storm on the GOES-14 image.

GOES-14 is operated by NOAA, and the image was created by the NASA GOES Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Bermuda today, Oct. 16. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) expects that Bermuda will see between 2 and 4 inches of rainfall and tropical-storm-force winds. NHC expects the center of Rafael to pass east of Bermuda by this evening. Rafael will continue generating rough surf in Bermuda, eastern-facing beaches of the Bahamas and portions of the United States east coast during the next couple of days.

At 8 a.m. EDT on Oct. 16, Rafael's center was near latitude 27.3 north and longitude 65.0 west. Rafael was moving toward the north-northeast near 16 mph (26 kph) and is forecast to turn toward the northeast later on Oct. 16. Rafael's maximum sustained winds were near 85 mph (140 kph), making the storm a category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane wind scale.

According to the NHC discussion, Rafael is expected to be over much colder water and merge with the strong cold front seen in the GOES-14 satellite image from today, Oct. 16. The merging of systems should cause Rafael to transition into a large and powerful extra-tropical low that will move eastward over the far north Atlantic.

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



Oct. 15, 2012

MODIS captured this visible image of Rafael in the Atlantic Ocean on Oct. 14, 2012 at 1720 UTC (1:20 p.m. EDT) › View larger image
The MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured this visible image of Tropical Storm Rafael in the Atlantic Ocean on Oct. 14, 2012 at 1720 UTC (1:20 p.m. EDT). The bulk of Rafael's showers and thunderstorms were concentrated east of the center of circulation.
Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team
NASA Eyes Tropical Storm Rafael Battering the Leeward Islands

While the Leeward Islands continue to get battered by Tropical Storm Rafael, a Tropical Storm Watch is posted for Bermuda as Rafael continues to move through the eastern Atlantic Ocean. NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Rafael on Oct. 14 and noticed the bulk of showers and thunderstorms were being pushed north and east of the storm's center.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured a visible image of Tropical Storm Rafael in the Atlantic Ocean on Oct. 14, 2012 at 1720 UTC (1:20 p.m. EDT). The image clearly showed that the bulk of Rafael's heaviest showers and thunderstorms were concentrated east of the center of circulation.

Those heavy showers are expected to bring between 1 and 3 inches of rainfall over the northern Leeward Islands with isolated totals to 12 inches. Flash flooding and mudslides are always a major concern with this kind of rainfall.

On Oct. 15 at 8 a.m. EDT, Rafael was approaching hurricane strength with maximum sustained winds near 70 mph (110 kph). It was located about 290 miles (465 km) north of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and 680 miles (1,090 miles) south of Bermuda near 22.5 North and 65.5 west. Rafael was moving to the north-northwest at 9 mph (15 kph) and is expected to turn to the north. Satellite imagery on Oct. 15 does not yet reveal an eye.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center expect Rafael to approach Bermuda late on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

Meanwhile, heavy surf and swells are expected the eastern facing beaches of the Bahamas, the northern Leeward Islands, and the north and east facing beaches of Puerto Rico. In a couple of days, Rafael will be moving into cooler waters and an area of higher wind shear, but is expected to intensify a little more before that time.

Rafael developed on Friday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. EDT from System 98L. When it organized into a tropical storm, it was located near 15.0 North and 63.1 West, about 125 miles (200 km) west-southwest of Domincia, causing tropical storm warnings in the U.S. Virgin Islands at that time. When Rafael developed, its maximum sustained winds were near 40 mph, and now forecasters are watching Rafael to see if the storm will become a hurricane.

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



Oct. 12, 2012

TRMM passed over System 98L on Oct. 12 at 0507 UTC (1:07 a.m. EDT) and saw light to moderate rainfall. › View larger image
When NASA's TRMM satellite passed over System 98L on Oct. 12 at 0507 UTC (1:07 a.m. EDT), light to moderate rainfall (blue and green) was scattered over most of the low pressure area and falling at a rate between .78 to 1.57 inches/20 to 40 mm per hour.
Credit: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce
NASA's TRMM Satellite Sees Moderate Rainfall for Lesser Antilles in Forming Storm

The low pressure area called "System 98L" is generating a large area of showers and thunderstorms in the eastern Caribbean Sea. NASA's TRMM satellite spotted those light-to-moderate shower activity when it flew overhead on Oct. 12.

On Oct. 12 at 1200 UTC, the center of System 98L was located near 13.7 North latitude and 61.8 West longitude, about 100 miles west of Dominica. It was bringing scattered showers and thunderstorms and gusty winds over portions of the Lesser Antilles.

According to the National Hurricane Center, surface observations indicated System 98L is producing winds to tropical storm force in rainbands.

When NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite passed over System 98L on Oct. 12 at 0507 UTC (1:07 a.m. EDT) data showed light to moderate rainfall was falling in a scattered pattern over most of the low pressure area. That rainfall was occurring at a rate between .78 to 1.57 inches/20 to 40 mm per hour. TRMM data also indicated that the low appears to not have a closed circulation, which was reiterated by surface observations.

Because the upper-level winds are expected to become more conducive for development, System 98L could become the seventeenth tropical depression of the Atlantic Ocean season sometime over the weekend of Oct. 13 and 14.

The National Hurricane Center noted that if Tropical Depression 17 forms, a tropical storm warning would be needed for parts of the Leeward Islands. In fact, NHC forecasters give System 98L an 80 percent chance of becoming that seventeenth depression over the next couple of days.

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