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Kathy Winters, L-3 Weather Forecast
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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. 24, 2006, and we are at L-3, or at three days before the scheduled launch of the space shuttle.

At this hour, the team at the 45th Weather Squadron is closely watching all the weather data around the clock. Some specific items we're tracking are the high-pressure area that's off of the East Coast of the U.S. and also the tropical wave that's located in the area of the lesser Antilles.

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.

Right now, a high-pressure area off the East Coast of the U.S. which is extending over the Florida straits, is resulting in southwest flow over Central Florida. This pattern causes afternoon thunderstorms to move towards the east coast of Florida. Therefore, Kennedy Space Center will continue to have afternoon thunderstorms for the next two days.

By launch day, the high-pressure area will migrate back up to the north, causing easterly flow to sit in over Central Florida. This will cause us to have morning coastal showers and even a chance for an isolated thunderstorm in the morning. But then by the afternoon, all of the weather should progress inland.

Still, we do have an area of low pressure up a little bit to our north, and that could enhance some showers and thunderstorms that are off shore. And our upper level winds may cause some of the blow-off clouds from the top of thunderstorms to move back into our area.

So because of that, we do have some concern for those clouds coming in from the thunderstorms, because we could trigger a lightning strike if we did try to launch through any of those clouds.

So our primary concerns for launch are the tops of the thunderstorms coming off of the thunderstorms off shore and coming in to our area, and also the thunderstorms inland that may be within 20 nautical miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility.

So we're going to keep an eye out for winds to shift around to keep those thunderstorms inland and also watch that tropical wave down over the lesser Antilles to see if it'll be a threat to our area in the next several days.

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

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