Monday, September 5, 2011

September 5, 2011: Katia and Lee

This dramatic image shows Hurricane Katia at Cat 2 intensity in the Atlantic and the post-tropical remnants of (former) Tropical Storm Lee along the Gulf Coast.  This is a false-color infrared satellite image from Sunday, September 4;  red colors highlight the tallest cloud tops.  There is quite a dramatic difference in the structure of these two tropical tempests.  Katia is very compact with an enormous, central cluster of deep thunderstorms - called a convective burst.   Ex-Lee, on the other hand, is much more sprawling and asymmetric.  The center is somewhat open, with dry air off the continent sweeping into the center from the west.  A rain band containing intense thunderstorms lies over the Gulf of Mexico.  Rain bands such as these have been repeatedly moving northward across the coastal states, bringing episode after episode of heavy tropical rains.

As of this morning, Katia is expected to recurve away from the U.S. East Coat and accelerate toward the northeast, later in the week.  The post-tropical remnants of Lee are predicted to move slowly northward along the Eastern Seaboard through the week.   The remnants will approach the Mid Atlantic, advancing along a stalled cold front.   The combination of this front,  plume of tropical moisture, ascent of moist air along the Appalachians,  and slow movement of ex-Lee promises excessively heavy rainfall across the Southeast, and potentially over portions of the Mid Atlantic.  

Here is the morning surface map, showing the front, with ex-Lee embedded in the front over the Gulf Coast:
Here is the morning's 5-day rainfall prediction by NOAA's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center:

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