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First CAMEX-3 hurricane brewing in mid-Atlantic

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Bonnie may be the one

First CAMEX-3 hurricane brewing in mid-Atlantic

GOES-8 CONUS Visible iconAug. 20, 1998: (This is the fifth in a series of stories covering the ongoing CAMEX mission to hunt hurricane data in a way not done since the 50s. Other stories are linked in below.)

At 4 p.m. EDT, August 20, a tropical storm warning was issued for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. A watch remained in effect for much of the northern Leeward Islands.

The CAMEX-3 team may soon get its chance to monitor the growth of a hurricane and what happens when it wades ashore. Forecasters for the CAMEX-3 program say that a tropical depression (TD 02) in the mid-Atlantic Ocean may develop into a tropical storm - which would then be named Bonnie - by late Thursday, and could become a hurricane aimed at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., where the team is based.

"Emphasis on H. Bonnie. Xpct to fly it A LOT!! Watch waves following for development," reads meteorologist R.Wohlman's long-range forecast for the next 3 to 5 days on the CAMEX-3 web site.

Left: This National Hurricane Center display shows the probability that the center of the tropical cyclone will pass within 120 km (75 mi) of a location during the next 72 hours. Contour levels shown are 10%, 20%, 50% and 100% (links to 16KB image).

The CAMEX-3 team is closely studying TD 02 and may launch its first study mission (as compared to test mission flown earlier this week) as soon as this weekend.

In the tropics, a weak wave is passing through Hispaniola, and appears to be weakening due to the effects of that island and Cuba. Preceding this is a weak upper level circulation just to the southeast of Florida. This will tend to suppress convection in the southern half of the state throughout the period.

Right: ER-2 pilot Bill Collette prepares to fly a CAMEX mission earlier this week. The resemblance of his flight suit to the Shuttle astronaut's flight suits is no coincidence: the two designs have a common heritage (links to 91KB image). credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA

Then, as the trough (low-pressure area) passes through tomorrow afternoon, meteorologists predict an increase in activity. Following this wave is TD 02 at 17N 53W early today. It is expected to move west-northwest at 37 km/h (20 kt, or 23 mph). This speed has increased over the last day from from 18-28 km/h (10-15 kt.), and should develop to hurricane strength over the next 3 days.

By Saturday, TS Bonnie should be near 20.5N 64W by 8 a.m. Friday, 21 , 21.7N 67.0W at 8 p.m. Friday.

Left: Ready to go. A wide-angle view inside hangar at Patrick AFB shows the ER-2, with nose partially open, spanning the foreground, and the UND Citation partially visible at left middle ground (links to 49KB image). credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA

In the 48- to 72-hour forecast, Bonnie - if it continues to strengthen - will be at 23N 70W by 8 a.m. Saturday, and become a hurricane around 8 a.m. Sunday at 25.5N 73.5W. Estimates have it beginning to recurve into the trough between high-pressure regions over Bermuda and the continental U.S. This early in the game, errors my be large, and warm water in the Caribbean Sea and strong easterlies may move the storm westward.

Note: More details are available in the NASA press release describing CAMEX-3. Check back as hurricane season progresses. We will post science updates as the campaign develops.

PIX: High resolution scans of 35mm camera photos from the CAMEX-3 campaign are available from Public Affairs Office at NASA headquarters. Please call the NASA Headquarters Photo Department at 202-358-1900, or contact Bill Ingalls at bingalls@hq.nasa.gov.


CAMEX Series Headlines

August 12: Overview CAMEX story , describes the program in detail.
August 13: CAMEX maiden flight , for calibration of TRMM satellite instruments
August 14: CAMEX test flights , CAMEX flies over tropical storm weather in successful calibration run
August 18: CAMEX aircraft make second flight with TRMM , second calibration run for TRMM
August 20: CAMEX may get first chance at a tropical storm , later this week (this story)
August 21: Here comes Bonnie!
, CAMEX scheduled to fly over T.S. Bonnie 
August 22: West by Northwest , CAMEX team may have to evacuate to Georgia 
August 24: Eye-to-eye, and Bonnie winks, CAMEX team makes first flight through eye 
August 25: Snow in August, Bonnie surprises the hurricane team 
August 26: Camera of many colors Hurricane hunters using advanced scanner to peer into storms
August 28: Preparing for Danielle NASA team takes break as Bonnie fades away
August 31: Quite a Windfall Hurricane team completes first half of unique science campaign
September 2: Bonnie Cuts a Towering Figure Satellite radar shows mountainous cloud chimney
September 4: Hurricane team studies EarlFour aircraft probe storm
September 10: NASA team awaits next hurricane
September 16: Hurricane season passing its primeThunderstorm studies continue as a new hurricane candidate wends its way from Africa.
September 18: Two new storms brewing for hurricane research team Scientists fly 4 out of 5 days, clear air sampled over the Bahamas, oceanic convection data collected east of Cape Canaveral
September 21:The last hurricane - CAMEX team wrapping up campaign with flights into Georges
September 23: Hurricane Georges puts on a light show- CAMEX team treated to purple sprites and weird lightning

NCAR has an extensive writeup on the GPS dropsondes used in CAMEX-3 and other atmospheric campaigns.

A new study - not related to CAMEX-3 - by the Arizona State University suggests a link between hurricanes in the northwest Atlantic and air pollution.

CAMEX-3 - the third Convection and Moisture Experiment - is an interagency project to measure hurricane dynamics at high altitude, a method never employed before over Atlantic storms. From this, scientists hope to understand better how hurricanes are powered and to improve the tools they use to predict hurricane intensity.

An overview story (Aug. 12, 1998) describes the program in detail. The study is part of NASA's Earth Science enterprise to better understand the total Earth system and the effects of natural and human-induced changes on the global environment.

Web Links
CAMEX-3 home page contains links to daily flight operations and instrument descriptions.
Lightning Imaging Sensor aboard the TRMM satellite observes lightning from above the clouds - and my lead to better warnings on the ground.
MACAWS uses the Doppler effect (red and blue shifts) to measure wind velocity.
SPARCLE is a Space Shuttle experiment set for 2001 to demonstrate laser wind measurement from space.

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More web links
  • More Space Science Headlines - NASA research on the web
  • The Marshall Newsroom - more information on this and other news from the Marshall Space Flight Center
  • NASA's Earth Science Enterprise Information on Earth Science missions, etc.
  • Global Hydrology and Climate Center studies the global water cycle and its effect on climate.
  • National Hurricane Center carries the latest tracking information on tropical storms and hurricanes. It also has lots of historical data and images, including hi-resolution copies of the pictures above of damage by Hurricane Andrew.
  • The Public Use of Remote Sensing Data at Goddard Space Flight Center has high-resolution images of Fran (including the original of the image used in this story), Andrew, and other hurricanes and of other events seen from space.