NASA Spots “Hot Towers” in Tropical Storm Frank — which you should start learning about


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As tropical storm Frank was forming in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, NASA analyzed rainfall and cloud heights and found “hot towers” that indicated intensification was likely.

After the Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite passed over System 99E, it quickly strengthened into Tropical Depression 07E and then a tropical storm. The…satellite flew directly above the increasingly organized stormy area on July 21, 2016 at 4:51 a.m. EDT. GPM found some powerful thunderstorms contained intense showers. Rain was measured by GPM’s Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar instrument falling at a rate of over 7.2 inches per hour in a few of these convective storms.

WTF? Ever been in a tropical downpour? They average about 1½ inches/hour rainfall – up to 6″ max. I’ve been in cities with superb drainage, lots of paving leading to storm drains – at 2″ hour and experienced flooding.

GPM data also provided a 3-D look at the storms. GPM’s radar…slicing through these storms found that some tall thunderstorms were reaching heights of over 9.9 miles…

A “hot tower” is a tall cumulonimbus cloud that reaches at least to the top of the troposphere, the lowest layer of the atmosphere. It extends approximately 9 miles high in the tropics. These towers are called “hot” because they rise to such altitude due to the large amount of latent heat. Water vapor releases this latent heat as it condenses into liquid. Those towering thunderstorms have the potential for heavy rain. NASA research shows that a tropical cyclone with a hot tower in its eyewall was twice as likely to intensify within six or more hours, than a cyclone that lacked a hot tower…

Frank was moving toward the northwest near 12 mph and the NHC forecast a turn to the west-northwest with a decrease in forward speed during the next couple of days. On the forecast track, Frank is expected to move away from the southwest coast of Mexico and pass well south of the Baja California peninsula over the weekend.

Maximum sustained winds are near 50 mph with higher gusts. NHC said some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Frank could become a hurricane during the weekend.

I’m not posting this to give you the weather forecast over the eastern Pacific. Just pointing out what’s happening in weather systems during a fairly normal La Nina year. Maybe even lightweight at this point. As a matter of habit in the high desert Southwest we watch for orange tops with hopes of getting a bit of precip. For you folks, elsewhere, it’s a different story.

I’d suggest you start paying attention. “Nobody told me this was coming” ain’t a terrific excuse anymore.