Text Size

Kathy Winters, L-1 Weather Forecast
+ Listen Now (mp3)

You are listening to NASA Direct.

KATHY WINTERS: I'm Kathy Winters, launch weather officer for Space Shuttle Atlantis. I'm with the 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Today is Aug. 26, 2006, and we are at L-1, or one day before the scheduled launch of the space shuttle.

At this hour, the team at the 45th Weather Squadron is closely watching all our weather data around the clock.

Some specific items we're tracking are the high-pressure ridge to our south and Tropical Storm Ernesto, important weather features that affect our area for launch.

Weather rules for launch of the space shuttle are very clear, and we will call a "no-go" for launch weather if any criteria are violated.

Currently, the Bermuda high ridge is located over south Florida and a low-pressure trough is over north Florida, slowly nudging southward.

There is an abundance of moisture in the atmosphere over Kennedy Space Center today, and the East Coast sea breeze will develop this afternoon, causing low-level convergence in the area.

With the ingredients in place, plus two triggers -- the trough to the north and the afternoon sea breeze -- widespread thunderstorm activity and heavy rain will affect KSC again today.

Sunday, the ridge over south Florida will migrate into central Florida, causing southerly flow over the area.

A sea breeze will develop again in the late morning, and showers and thunderstorms will develop along the sea breeze over KSC beginning near the noon hour.

The sea breeze will slowly progress to the west, and by launch time, will be west of KSC.

Still, showers and thunderstorms with associated anvils will threaten the area within 20 nautical miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility and 10 nautical miles of the launch pad.

So our primary concern for launch is those showers and thunderstorms that will be off to our west.

We are also keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Ernesto. Ernesto is in the eastern Caribbean right now, moving towards the west-northwest, towards Jamaica, western Cuba, and then it's expected to go into the Gulf of Mexico.

We're not expecting it to be a threat for launch day, but we will have to keep a close eye on Ernesto as it moves into the Gulf of Mexico.

So right now, our main two features that we're watching are that high-pressure ridge to see how it migrates to the north and affects our winds and low-level flow and causes those showers and storms, and hopefully they'll progress inland during launch day.

And also, we're keeping a close eye on Ernesto for the next few days to see how that forecast is going to pan out from the National Hurricane Center.

From Kennedy Space Center in Florida, I'm Kathy Winters, launch weather officer for Space Shuttle Atlantis.

You've been listening to NASA Direct.

+ Listen Now (mp3)