Saturday, September 16, 2017

Hurricane Jose, Tropical Depression 14, the Atlantic Blobette, and a Space Science Special: September 15, Update A

What is THIS?!!?
I turn my back for 2 days and someone scribbles all over the Atlantic with a red crayon!! Honestly kids… can’t leave you alone for one minute. And this is not how you play 'noughts and crosses'! ;-)

Hurricane Jose
He was a Tropical Storm, but I’m back and so of course he’s back as a hurricane. A plane went in today and found that he has re-intensified to a cat 1 storm. Winds are officially 80 mph, central pressure is 983mb (cat 1 range: 74-95mph). He is at 27.4N, 71.0W, heading NW at 9mph. He doesn’t look like much in the satellite imagery, but an eye is trying to form, so I think he may actually be a little stronger – closer to 85-90mph winds:
Also, there is good circulation throughout the troposphere. You can clearly see the vorticity signal in the upper 200mb level:
By the way, there is another, stronger, hurricane in the eastern Pacific which you can also see in this vorticity map, just south of Baja. That’s Hurricane Norma, currently officially weaker than Jose, but I think that will change because she has a pretty good structure. She’s heading to Mexico’s Baja peninsula for Tuesday/Wednesday.

Back to Jose... it looks like he didn’t like rum after all and is avoiding Bermuda although there may be a spot of rain as he zooms by:
Regarding his future track, the most likely scenario at the moment is that he will stay mostly in the Atlantic, with outer bands of rain perhaps clipping the east coast. But it is a little too soon to say for sure so keep an eye on the entire cone as there is a possibility he can go anywhere in there.

Tropical Depression 14
This little blob looks like he is on the edge of being a Tropical Storm. He is currently at 12.8N, 30.7W, heading W at 10mph. Winds are currently 35mph, central pressure is 1009mb. There is a vorticity (circulation) signal over the entire lower half of the troposphere (500mb map):
and some decent convection:
 There isn’t much wind shear ahead of him and the ocean water is over 27 deg C, which is enough to allow him to grow a little more. The next name would be Lee.

Atlantic Blobette
The circulation is not very well developed in this one yet, although there is some convection as you can see in the image above. Until that circulation improves, it doesn’t seem like this one will develop much. The water is quite warm (sea surface is around 29 deg C) which is why there is a lot of convection. But there is some wind shear ahead of this Blobette, which would inhibit it’s structure in the atmosphere from forming too much.  

Space Science Special:
The big science news of today was the end of the Cassini-Huygens mission after 13 years of exploring the planet Saturn, its rings, and its moons:
(image credit: NASA JPL)
This little spacecraft took 7 years to get from Earth to Saturn, and then proceeded to provide scientist with oodles of data about that mysterious planet and some gorgeous photos that we can all ooh and aaah over forever. You can download and look at these spectacular images for yourself in this free NASA e-Book.

In 2009, Cassini started to run low on fuel and NASA decided the best plan was to allow it to crash into Saturn instead of contaminating one of Saturn’s moons (which may be habitable), and today was its last day! This morning the Cassini spacecraft crashed into Saturn’s atmosphere at 75,000 miles/hour. Amongst its many findings, Cassini discovered new moons around Saturn, an ocean underneath the ice on Encaladeus (one of Saturn’s moons), methane and ethane lakes on Titan (another moon), and gave us the best information on Saturn’s famous rings. Plenty more to find out in future missions… but for today, congratulations to NASA and the Cassini mission team, and farewell! Here's the final image that Cassini took:
(photo credit: NASA)
This mission had a special place in my life - during my Physics undergraduate degree, before this mission had left Earth, calculating and modeling the launch trajectory and path from Earth to Saturn for the Cassini-Huygens mission was my final year Computational Physics project. Luckily for everyone, they had real experts do the actual calculations! ;-) 

Toodle pip Cassini!

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DISCLAIMER: These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms - not the opinion of any organization I represent. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast and the National Weather Service announcements. This is not an official forecast. If I "run away, run away" (Monty Python), I'll let you know. 

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