NASA infrared imagery shows wind shear affecting Tropical Storm Maria

September 29, 2017, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
On Sept. 29 at 02:45 UTC (6:45 a.m. EST) NASA's Terra satellite measured temperatures of Maria's cloud top temperatures as cold as minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 56.6 degrees Celsius) (in red) east of the center. Credit: NASA/NRL

Tropical Storm Maria is now caught up in the Westerlies and is being affected by wind shear that is elongating the storm. Infrared imagery from NASA's Aqua satellite revealed that Maria's strongest storms were east of the tropical cyclone's center because of westerly wind shear.

The prevailing Westerlies are the winds in the middle latitudes between 35 and 65 degrees latitude. They blow from the west to the east and steer storms in that general direction. Maria is now embedded in those winds and they are guiding the tropical across the Atlantic Ocean.

On Sept. 29 at 02:45 UTC (6:45 a.m. EST) the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite measured temperatures of Maria's cloud tops. MODIS data was false-colored at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. and showed powerful thunderstorms with cloud top temperatures as cold as minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 56.6 degrees Celsius) east of the center.

National Hurricane Center forecaster Lixion Avila noted "satellite images indicate that cold air is already beginning to entrain into the circulation of the tropical cyclone. Most of deep convection is limited to a curved band to the east of the center."

At 11 a.m. EDT (1500 UTC) on Sept.29 the center of Tropical Storm Maria was located near 37.5 degrees north latitude and 60.1 degrees west longitude. That's about 525 miles (840 km) south-southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Maria was moving toward the east-northeast near 31 mph (50 kph), and this motion is expected to continue during the weekend. Maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph (95 kph) with higher gusts. The estimated minimum central pressure is 988 millibars.

Swells generated by Maria are affecting much of the east coast of the United States, Atlantic Canada, and Bermuda. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

The NHC said that Maria should become post-tropical late on Saturday, Sept. 30 and then dissipate or be absorbed by a larger cyclone on Oct. 1 or 2. Maria is already embedded in the mid-latitude westerlies (winds).

Explore further: NASA sees Maria weaken to a Tropical Storm

Related Stories

NASA infrared data targets Maria's strongest side

September 25, 2017

Infrared light provides valuable temperature data to forecasters and cloud top temperatures give clues about highest, coldest, strongest storms within a hurricane. NASA's Aqua satellite provided that data and showed strongest ...

NASA satellite data shows Hurricane Maria's strongest side

September 26, 2017

NASA's Aqua satellite provided an infrared look at Hurricane Maria's cloud top temperatures and found the coldest cloud tops and strongest storms were facing east of the center and away from the U.S. However, Maria is a large ...

Recommended for you

Propping up glaciers to avoid cataclysmic sea level rise

September 20, 2018

As global warming outpaces efforts to tame it, scientists have proposed building massive underwater structures to prevent an Antarctic glacier the size of Britain from sliding into the sea and lifting the world's oceans by ...

NASA balloon mission captures electric blue clouds

September 20, 2018

On the cusp of our atmosphere live a thin group of seasonal electric blue clouds. Forming 50 miles above the poles in summer, these clouds are known as noctilucent clouds or polar mesospheric clouds—PMCs. A recent NASA ...

Study tracks Hurricane Harvey stormwater with GPS

September 20, 2018

Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) of water on southeast Texas in late August 2017, making it the wettest recorded hurricane in U.S. history. But after the storm passed, where did all that water go?


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.