NASA eyes low in eastern Pacific for tropical development

May 27, 2010
NASA's Aqua satellite infrared image on May 27 at 1:35 a.m. EDT showed System 90E with four areas of strong thunderstorms with very high, cold cloud tops (purple) around the center of circulation. Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder instrument onboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of a low pressure area called "90E" in the Eastern Pacific that forecasters are watching for tropical development. If the low develops it could be named Agatha.

AIRS, the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder instrument on Aqua, provides scientists with . That imagery measures cloud top temperatures and . If the cloud tops in low pressure areas or are colder than -63 degrees Fahrenheit, it indicates strong thunderstorms and strong convection (rapidly rising air that condenses and forms the thunderstorms that power tropical cyclones).

On May 27 at 1:35 a.m. EDT (05:35 UTC) AIRS imagery showed System 90E developing the trademark tropical cyclone approximately 205 nautical miles south of Salina Cruz, Mexico near 12.8 North and 94.5 West. AIRS infrared imagery indicated there were four areas of strong thunderstorms with very high, cold cloud tops around the center of circulation. Infrared satellite imagery indicates a slowly consolidating, broad low-level circulation center.

Winds in the area are estimated to be 20 to 25 knots (23-28 mph). System 90E is trudging west at 1 mph. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center noted that System 90E "is expected to continue consolidating over the next 24-36 hours. The potential for the development of a significant tropical cyclone within the next 24 hours is good."

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