NASA's Aqua Satellite sees Tropical Depression Anthony heading toward Australia

Jan 26, 2011
NASA's Aqua Satellite captured this visible image on Jan. 26 at 03:23 UTC of a now weakened Tropical Depression Anthony as it continues to weaken in the South Pacific Ocean. Eastern Australia can be seen on the left side of this image. Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen

NASA's Aqua Satellite captured a visible image of the former Tropical Storm Anthony, now weakened to a tropical depression, but forecasters aren't counting Anthony out yet. Despite its weakened condition Anthony continues to move west toward Queensland, Australia and into a more favorable area for sustaining a tropical cyclone.

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured a visible image on Jan. 26 at 03:23 UTC of Tropical Depression Anthony in the South Pacific Ocean. The image revealed a cloud-filled center of the storm.

At 0600 UTC (1 a.m. EST) on January 26, Anthony had progressed west and was now about 455 nautical miles west-northwest of Nomeau, New Caledonia. That places Anthony's center near 19.2 South and 159.1 East. Maximum sustained surface winds are estimated at 25 to 30 knots (28 mph/46 km/hr to 34 mph/55 km/hr) meaning that Anthony is still at status.

The from the AIRS instrument showed a well-defined low level circulation center, although dry air is now wrapping into Anthony's northern quadrant. Dry air saps the moisture that creates the thunderstorms that power a tropical cyclone. Generally, the storm's convection (rapidly rising air that creates those thunderstorms) is weak throughout the storm, and only isolated strong areas of convection appear in the southeastern quadrant. That may change in the next day or two, however, as Anthony moves into an area more conducive to maintaining a tropical cyclone.

Vertical wind shear (winds that can weaken a tropical cyclone) has lessened and are warm enough to sustain and strengthen a tropical cyclone (between 28 and 30 Celsius/82 and 86 Fahrenheit). Computer forecast models have shown forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center that as the system tracks westward toward Australia, there is a fair chance that Anthony will regenerate or re-strengthen in the next 24-36 hours. Forecasters in Queensland, Australia will be watching Anthony very closely.

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