NASA eyeing southern Gulf of Mexico low for tropical trouble

Jun 21, 2012
NASA's Aqua satellite AIRS instrument captured this infrared image of a low in the southern Gulf of Mexico on June 21 at 3:29 a.m. EDT. The strongest thunderstorms (purple) have high, cold cloud tops (of -63F/-52C)located southwest and southeast of the center. Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen

NASA satellites are providing data on a broad area of low pressure in the south-central Gulf of Mexico that has a medium chance for development into a tropical depression.

Infrared data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that flies onboard NASA's Aqua satellite is helping forecasters at the National Hurricane Center understand what's happening with the low pressure area. In an image captured on June 21 at 0729 (3:29 a.m. EDT), the center of the low pressure area appears to be near the western tip of Cuba near 22 North and 85 West. The strongest thunderstorms and convection (rising air that forms the thunderstorms) have high, cold cloud tops (of -63F/-52C) that indicate strong uplift, southwest and southeast of the center.

The National Hurricane Center noted that the large area of clouds, showers and thunderstorms extend from the northwestern north into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and over Florida.

There are currently strong upper level winds that have been inhibiting development, but those winds are expected to weaken, giving the low more of a chance to get organized. The low continues to move north into the bringning heavy rainfall and possible flooding over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, western Cuba and southern Florida over the next couple of days.

Explore further: NASA's HS3 mission spotlight: The HIRAD instrument

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