The twelfth tropical depression formed in the Southern Indian Ocean today and quickly became a tropical storm, dubbed Tropical Storm 12S. NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the storm and captured infrared data that revealed a quickly developing tropical cyclone with powerful thunderstorms around its center of circulation.
Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center expect a landfall in Madagascar in several days.
The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm 12S on February 9, 2012 at 09:41 UTC (4:41 a.m. EST) south of Diego Garcia. Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center noted that the system has consolidated quickly with improved convective banding (of thunderstorms) wrapping into the center. The strongest thunderstorms and heaviest rainfall are close to the well-defined center of circulation and in bands of thunderstorms to the south of the center, where cloud top temperatures are below -63 F (-52.7C).
On February 9 at 1500 UTC (10 a.m. EST), Tropical Storm 12S (TS12S) had maximum sustained winds near 35 knots (40 mph/~65 kph). It was located 690 nautical miles (794 miles/1,278 km) northeast of La Reunion Island near 14.1 South latitude and 65.1 East longitude. It was moving to the west near 9 knots (10.3 mph/16.7 kph) toward Madagascar. The forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center expect TS12S to strengthen as it moves west because of warm sea surface temperatures and light wind shear. Landfall at cyclone strength is expected in east central Madagascar sometime on February 13.
Explore further: Ice in Arctic seas shrinks to sixth-lowest recorded