24 September 2012

Zombie storm haunts the north Atlantic

An easterly wave that exited the African coast on September 7 became TD14 on September 11.  It was upgraded to Tropical Storm Nadine just twelve hours later, and then Hurricane Nadine on September 15.  The "final" advisory was written on it this past Friday night, but 36 hours later, it came back from the graveyard, and is now a tropical storm again, and may become a hurricane... again.  So, as I mentioned a week ago, we'd still be talking about Nadine for quite some time!

At 09Z today (5am EDT), Nadine's estimated intensity was 45kts, and forecast to slowly intensify to a 65kt hurricane by the end of the week as it drifts westward.  In the image shown here, you can see the Azores to the north of the storm (yellow outlines) and an underwhelming satellite appearance.

Aside from Nadine, the basin is quiet, which is extremely fortunate because the primary "eye in the sky" failed on Sunday afternoon.  I'm referring to GOES-13, NOAA's operational geostationary satellite that provides continuous satellite images over the eastern US and Atlantic basin.  The satellite was launched in 2006, and was held in reserve until its predecessor failed in 2010.  So it's only been in operation for 2 years... not a good record.  It's possible that it can be fixed, but it would need to be by clever electrical engineers on the ground, since physically repairing it is not an option.  There is a spare satellite parked in orbit for exactly this scenario (GOES-14), but before pulling it out of storage, GOES-15 (the western operational satellite) will be used in full-disk mode to provide some coverage.  The GOES-15 view of the basin looks like this:

These geostationary satellites (named that because the satellite orbits the earth at the same rate the earth rotates, so it's always looking down at the exact same spot on the globe) must orbit at an altitude of 22,236 miles above the Earth's surface at the equator.

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