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Hurricane Season 2009: Tropical Storms Enrique, Felicia (Eastern Pacific)

August 4, 2009

Felicia: The Sixth Tropical Storm of the Eastern Pacific

> View larger image NASA's AIRS instrument captured an infrared image of Felicia on Aug. 4 at 6:29 a.m. EDT, just as it strengthened into a tropical storm. The tight rounded shape indicates an organized storm. Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen

NASA's AIRS instrument captured an infrared image of Felicia on Aug. 4 at 6:29 a.m. EDT, just as it strengthened into a tropical storm. The tight rounded shape indicates an organized storm. Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen

It didn’t take long for the eighth tropical depression of the Eastern Pacific season to strengthen into a tropical storm. Tropical Storm Felicia’s sustained winds are now up to 45 mph and getting stronger.

At 11 a.m. EDT, on August 4, Felicia was moving west-northwest near 14 mph, still more than 400 miles ahead of Tropical Storm Enrique in the open waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Felicia was located near 124.9 west and 12.7 north, about 1,210 miles west southwest of the southern tip of Baja California. Minimum central pressure is 1001 millibars.

The center of a tropical cyclone isn’t always in the middle of it. In Felicia’s case, the National Hurricane Center states “The center appears to be in the northeastern portion of a prominent banding feature with very cold cloud tops.”

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) that flies aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite is used in tropical storm research by measuring cloud top temperature and pressure. AIRS captured an infrared image of Felicia on Aug. 4 at 6:29 a.m. EDT, just as it strengthened into a tropical storm. The image it captured shows a tight rounded shape, indicating an organized storm.

Infrared imagery is useful to forecasters because it shows the temperature of the cloud tops, facilitating the recognition of deep convective cells. NASA false-colors clouds at different heights in the infrared satellite images, so that the highest clouds appear purple, and the second highest clouds appear in blue. How does infrared imagery know how high clouds are in the sky? The coldest ones are higher in the sky (because in the troposphere, the lowest layer of atmosphere where weather happens, temperatures fall the higher up you go until you get to the stratosphere).

In infrared imagery, NASA’s false-colored purple clouds are as cold as or colder than 220 Kelvin or minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (F). The blue colored clouds are about 240 Kelvin, or minus 27F. The colder the clouds are, the higher they are, and the more powerful the thunderstorms are that make up the cyclone.

The National Hurricane Center notes that “further intensification is expected over the next couple of days as Tropical Storm Felicia remains over warm water with light (wind) shear. Beyond that time, a combination of increasing easterly shear from Tropical Storm Enrique and cooler waters could limit any future strengthening.”

Two New Eastern Pacific Storms Born: Enrique and Tropical Depression 8E (Felicia)

The GOES-11 satellite captured an infrared image of Tropical Depression 8e's (left) and Tropical Storm Enrique's (right) clouds in the early morning hours of August 4, 2009 in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

The GOES-11 satellite captured an infrared image of Tropical Depression 8e's (left) and Tropical Storm Enrique's (right) clouds in the early morning hours of August 4, 2009 in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

The seventh and eighth tropical cyclones in the eastern Pacific Ocean formed late yesterday and are chasing each other in the open ocean.

One of them has already been named “Enrique” as it has strengthened into a tropical storm, while the other, located in front of it (to Enrique’s west) was named “Tropical Depression 8E (TD8E)(Felicia).”

At 5 a.m. EDT on Aug. 4, Tropical Storm Enrique was located 725 miles south-southwest of the southern tip of Baja California, near latitude 14.0 north and longitude 115.7 west. Enrique was packing sustained winds near 40 mph and is expected to strengthen further. Enrique was moving west-northwest near 17 mph with a minimum central pressure of 1004 millibars.

At the same time, Tropical Depression Eight-E is speeding in front of Enrique, about 450 miles farther west. TD8E was located about 1,175 miles southwest of the southern tip of Baja California, near latitude 12.3 north and 123.9 west.

TD8E’s sustained winds are currently 35 mph, but it is expected to strengthen into a tropical storm later today, August 4, and get the name Felicia. TD8E is moving west-northwest near 13 mph, not quite as fast as Enrique, but he is expected to slow down later today. TD8E’s minimum central pressure is 1006 millibars.

GOES-11, the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite provided infrared imagery of both tropical cyclones’ clouds at 5 a.m. EDT on August 4. It showed that both storms were becoming better organized.

GOES-11 is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and images are created by NASA’s GOES Project, located at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

4 Responses to “Hurricane Season 2009: Tropical Storms Enrique, Felicia (Eastern Pacific)”

  1. Need more information about hurricanes in hawaii. Is it a big threat or will it down grade? How strong is the hurricane Felicia, Enrique?

    • Laila Moire-Selvage says:

      They are both category 5 but hurricanes usually dissipate before hitting the islands. Just keep up online everyday to check their progress. Hopefully it won’t hit the state but we’ll definitely be in for some bad weather.

      • Wayne says:

        They are not Cat 5…and haven’t been. Enrique was simply a TS (tropical storm) and Felicia just made hurricane status. Category 5 is the highest rating. Doubtful Felicia will reach that.

  2. Caroline thériault says:

    Je suis tellement inquiète!! Nous partons le 10 août et ils disent que l’ouragan pourrait toucher terre (Hawaii) le 11 août!! Est-ce que nous devons nous attendre à avoir 1 ou 2 semaine de mauvais temps??
    Nous partons du 10 au 20 aout.. Croyez-vous que cela gâchera notre voyage??
    Sommes-nous en danger sur les iles d’Hawaii?

    Répondez -moi vite je vous en prie!!!
    Merci énormément

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