Tropical Storm Lee (Gulf of Mexico)

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This GOES-13 satellite image shows Hurricane Katia (right), Tropical Depression 13 (left) and System 94L (top). Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

UPDATE: Tropical Depression 13 became Tropical Storm Lee as of 2:00pm EDT on September 02, 2011.

NASA Watching Atlantic Tropics: Katia, Tropical Depression 13 and System 94L

There are three areas of tropical trouble brewing in the Atlantic Ocean Basin today and they’ll be there over the Labor Day holiday weekend. NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite today provided a look at the location and development of Hurricane Katia in the central Atlantic, newborn Tropical Depression 13, and developing System 94L in the north Atlantic off the New England coast.

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The GOES-13 image was created by NASA’s GOES Project at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The image showed Katia to be the most well-organized of the three systems, although Tropical Depression 13 and System 94L are developing the typical hallmark “comma shape” of a tropical storm.

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3D look at Tropical Depression 13 from NASA’s TRMM Satellite on Sept 1

Here’s a 3-D look at Tropical Depression 13 from NASA’s TRMM Satellite on Sept 1. Some of the highest thunderstorm towers in that area were shown by PR data to reach heights of over 15km (~9.3 miles) and there were areas of heavy rain – which is going to affect the shoreline.. waves of rainfall to move inland. Credit: NASA/Goddard Tropical Depression 13 is the only one of the three causing watches and warnings, although Katia is roughing up the surf in the Lesser Antilles. Tropical Depression 13 was already causing a lot of problems on Sept. 2 with heavy rainfall along the Louisiana coast, especially because it was almost stationary.

Tropical Depression 13 formed during the early morning (Eastern Daylight Time) on Sept. 2 south of the Louisiana coast. It is a large area of low pressure, whose clouds appear to take about almost half of the Gulf of Mexico on GOES-13 satellite imagery today. Because it is very slow moving, the threat for flooding is serious in the Northern Gulf of Mexico this weekend.

Tropical Depression 13 was observed on Sept. 1 by NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Satellite on Sept 1 and TRMM noticed areas of heavy rainfall, where rain was falling at over 2 inches (50 mm) per hour. Some of the highest thunderstorm towers in that area were shown by precipitation radar data to reach heights of over 15km (~9.3 miles) indicating strong thunderstorms and a lot of power in the depression. The forecast on Sept. 2 calls for bands of rain to affect the Louisiana shoreline today.

A Tropical storm warning was in effect early today, Sept. 2 from Pascagoula, Miss. west to Sabine Pass, Texas, including New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas. Although expected to move north it will do so slowly and that means heavy rainfall and large rainfall totals for the Gulf coast. The NHC expects 10 to 15 inches over southern parts of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, locally up to 20 inches. Storm surge will also be an issue as Tropical Depression 13 continues to come together. Storm surges of 2 to 4 feet above ground level are expected along the northern Gulf Coast.

At 11 a.m. EDT on Sept. 2, Tropical Depression 13 was about 230 miles south-southeast of Port Arthur, Texas, or 190 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River near 27.3 North and 91.5 West. It had maximum sustained winds near 35 mph (55 kmh) and was creeping to the northwest at 2 mph (4 kmh). Minimum central pressure was near 1005 millibars.

At 11 a.m. TD13 was nearly stationary south of the Louisiana coast and peppering it with rainbands, dropping heavy rainfall. Flooding is a serious threat this weekend across the northern Gulf of Mexico. Isolated tornadoes are possible over portions of southern Louisiana tonight.

The system is forecast to head northward and make landfall in Louisiana over the weekend as Tropical Storm Lee.

The Atlantic Ocean is doing its best to remind everyone that we’re nearing the peak of hurricane season with triple tropical trouble.

For updates over the weekend, visit NASA’s Hurricane page on Facebook and Twitter: NASAHurricane.

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

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