The fourth named Pacific tropical storm may soon become that basin's third hurricane soon. Daniel, which formed a few days ago is harmlessly pushing westward in the ocean well off the Mexican coast. We usually don't focus much on the storms in the Pacific unless they threaten Mexico or have a chance of spreading moisture into deep South Texas. However, storms there often offer scientists a chance for deeper study. One of the tools used is a satellite called TRMM, which stands for Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission. This week as it passed over the developing storm, it identified that thunderstorm tops had soared to an astonishing height of nine miles! Here's an images the satellite captured on Independence Day:
To see an animation showing a blend between an infrared/visible image from TRMM's Visible and InfraRed Scanner (VIRS) and the same image with TRMM rainfall overlaid, click here: trmm.gsfc.nasa.gov/trmm_rain/Events/daniel_6july2012_0033_utc_blend.mpg.
Meanwhile, nothing is going on in the Atlantic basin. Few waves coming off the West Coast of Africa show signs of development and even a weak wave that spun up over Puerto Rico earlier this week fell apart. We may be starting to see the signs of El Niño forming in the Pacific. That oscillating pattern of cooler water shifts jet streams, bringing higher winds aloft over the Atlantic. Those winds disrupt storm development. Let's hope the fast start to 2012 slows down.