Image: NASA's TRMM Satellite Sees 10 Mile-High Thunderstorms in Arabian Sea Weather System

This 3-D image from TRMM Satellite data showed that System 98A has several thunderstorm "Hot Towers" that reached heights of about 17.5 km (~10.6 miles) indicating strong convection (red) and heavy rainfall around the storm's center. Credit: SSAI/NASA Goddard, Hal Pierce More images

NASA satellite data revealed 10 mile high thunderstorms on System 98A, a low pressure areas lingering in the eastern Arabian Sea, off the central western India coastline that continues to generate heavy rainfall.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite is managed by both NASA and JAXA, and captures rainfall data from space. When it flew over System 98A on June 6, 2011 at 0550 UTC it captured data on rainfall and cloud heights. TRMM's Precipitation Radar (PR) showed powerful thunderstorm towers within this possible cyclone pushing up heights above 17 km (~10.6 miles).

The radar imagery also showed the heaviest rainfall (at about 2 inches/50 mm per hour) was occurring over the open waters of the Arabian Sea, while light to moderate rainfall was affecting coastal India. Weather observations from Mumbai, India showed an increase in sea level pressure by one millibar over the last day, indicating weakening of the low pressure area.

On June 7 at 1800 UTC (2:00 p.m. EDT), System 98A had still not yet strengthened into a depression. It was located about 120 nautical miles west-southwest of Mumbai, India near 18.3 North and 70.9 East. The low-level center is still not well-defined, despite some of those strong, towering thunderstorms, mostly west of the center.

System 98A may not grow into a tropical storm because of several factors. Despite the fact that System 98A is sitting over very warm water (~30 C) which is a very favorable condition for its development, dry air is located to the northwest, and dry air saps moisture and energy from tropical cyclones. The system is also being battered by wind shear. Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center today give System 98A a poor chance of developing further in the next 24 hours.

Text Credit: Rob Gutro/Hal Pierce, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

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