Science and Technology News

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hurricane Season 2010: Tropical Storm Tomas (Atlantic Ocean)

NASA's CloudSat satellite Views Hurricane Tomas' Powerful Thunderstorms

Tomas formed quickly this past weekend in the eastern Caribbean Sea, grew into a hurricane and lashed Hispaniola before weakening. NASA's CloudSat satellite captured a look at Tomas' cloud heights and heavy rainfall when it was a hurricane.

NASA's CloudSat satellite's Cloud Profiling Radar captured a look across Tomas on Oct. 31 at 0549 UTC (). At that time, Tomas' maximum sustained winds were near 85 knots (97 mph) and it had a minimum central pressure of 982 millibars. CloudSat revealed that the top of Tomas' clouds reached up to 15 kilometers (over 9 miles) high. CloudSat also measured the cloud top temperatures are as cold as or colder than minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit)!

At on Friday, Oct. 29 the nineteenth named storm formed southeast of the Windward Islands about 200 miles southeast of Barbados. On Saturday, Oct. 30 Tomas dropped heavy rainfall on Barbados and caused damages as it neared hurricane strength. By Oct. 30, Tomas had grown into the twelfth hurricane of the Atlantic Ocean season and was bearing down on St. Lucia and St. Vincent with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. By that day, Tomas' maximum sustained winds had reached 90 mph.

On Sunday, Oct. 31, Tomas' winds had strengthened to 100 mph, and it continued to lash the Windward Islands and much of the Lesser Antilles with heavy rainfall. By Tomas had weakened because of westerly wind shear and the maximum sustained winds were down to 75 mph.

At 5 a.m. EDT today, Nov. 1, Tomas' maximum sustained winds were down to 50 mph, and it was moving west near 14 mph. Tomas is expected to continue moving west until Wednesday, Nov. 3 when it is forecast to turn to the north-northwest.

Westerly wind shear has increased today, and has pushed the deepest convection away from the center by 100 miles. Additional weakening is likely, according to the National Hurricane Center, as winds shear of 20 to 25 knots (23-29 mph) will continue battering Tomas for another day. Tomas is currently centered about 135 miles northeast of Curacao near 13.8 North and 67.7 West and will continue raining on the Windwards and Lesser Antilles today.

Text Credit: Rob Gutro
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

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