First CAMEX-3 hurricane brewing in mid-Atlantic
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At 4 p.m. EDT, August 20, a tropical storm warning was issued for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. A watch remained in effect for much of the northern Leeward Islands.
The CAMEX-3 team may soon get its chance to monitor the growth of a hurricane and what happens when it wades ashore. Forecasters for the CAMEX-3 program say that a tropical depression (TD 02) in the mid-Atlantic Ocean may develop into a tropical storm - which would then be named Bonnie - by late Thursday, and could become a hurricane aimed at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., where the team is based.
Left: This National Hurricane Center display shows the probability that the center of the tropical cyclone will pass within 120 km (75 mi) of a location during the next 72 hours. Contour levels shown are 10%, 20%, 50% and 100% (links to).
In the tropics, a weak wave is passing through Hispaniola, and appears to be weakening due to the effects of that island and Cuba. Preceding this is a weak upper level circulation just to the southeast of Florida. This will tend to suppress convection in the southern half of the state throughout the period.
Right: ER-2 pilot Bill Collette prepares to fly a CAMEX mission earlier this week. The resemblance of his flight suit to the Shuttle astronaut's flight suits is no coincidence: the two designs have a common heritage (links to). credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA
Then, as the trough (low-pressure area) passes through tomorrow afternoon, meteorologists predict an increase in activity. Following this wave is TD 02 at 17N 53W early today. It is expected to move west-northwest at 37 km/h (20 kt, or 23 mph). This speed has increased over the last day from from 18-28 km/h (10-15 kt.), and should develop to hurricane strength over the next 3 days.
Left: Ready to go. A wide-angle view inside hangar at Patrick AFB shows the ER-2, with nose partially open, spanning the foreground, and the UND Citation partially visible at left middle ground (links to). credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA
In the 48- to 72-hour forecast, Bonnie - if it continues to strengthen - will be at 23N 70W by 8 a.m. Saturday, and become a hurricane around 8 a.m. Sunday at 25.5N 73.5W. Estimates have it beginning to recurve into the trough between high-pressure regions over Bermuda and the continental U.S. This early in the game, errors my be large, and warm water in the Caribbean Sea and strong easterlies may move the storm westward.
Note: More details are available in the NASA press release describing CAMEX-3. Check back as hurricane season progresses. We will post science updates as the campaign develops.
PIX: High resolution scans of 35mm camera photos from the CAMEX-3 campaign are available from Public Affairs Office at NASA headquarters. Please call the NASA Headquarters Photo Department at 202-358-1900, or contact Bill Ingalls at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAMEX Series Headlines
August 12: Overview CAMEX story , describes the program in detail.
NCAR has an extensive writeup on the GPS dropsondes used in CAMEX-3 and other atmospheric campaigns.
A new study - not related to CAMEX-3 - by the Arizona State University suggests a link between hurricanes in the northwest Atlantic and air pollution.
CAMEX-3 - the third Convection and Moisture Experiment - is an interagency project to measure hurricane dynamics at high altitude, a method never employed before over Atlantic storms. From this, scientists hope to understand better how hurricanes are powered and to improve the tools they use to predict hurricane intensity.
An overview story (Aug. 12, 1998) describes the program in detail. The study is part of NASA's Earth Science enterprise to better understand the total Earth system and the effects of natural and human-induced changes on the global environment.
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