Tropical Storm Lee Drenches Gulf Coast as Hurricane Katia Aims for US East Coast

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New imagery from NASA and NOAA satellites taken today (Sept 4) shows the extent of a hurricane season storm currently ravaging the US Gulf Coast and another potentially posing a new threat to US East Coast areas still suffering from the vast destruction caused by Hurricane Irene just days ago. Data from the NASA and NOAA satellites is critical in providing advance warning to government officials and local communities to save human lives and minimize property damage. .

Slow moving Tropical Storm Lee has unleashed strong thunderstorms and heavy rainfall in several Gulf Coast states. Rainfall amounts of up to 7 to 14 inches over the last 48 hours are currently drenching coastal and inland communities – especially in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama along a wide swath that extends from Texas to the Florida panhandle.

Isolated pockets of Gulf State areas may see up to 20 inches of rainfall. Severe flooding to homes and roads has occurred in some locations. Winds have diminished from 60 mph on Saturday (Sept. 3) to 45 mph on Sunday.

Imagery and measurements from the Aqua and GOES-13 satellites from NASA and NOAA revealed that TS Lee finally made landfall in Louisiana after two days of drenching rain along the Gulf Coast..

A tropical storm warning is in effect on Sept 4 for New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain, and Lake Maurepas. Fortunately the rebuilt levees in New Orleans appear to holding in the first serious test since the vast destruction of Hurricane Katrina. Other areas are less lucky.

This infrared image of Tropical Storm Lee on Sept. 3 at 3:47 p.m. EDT when the center was still sitting south of the Louisiana coast. The strongest thunderstorms and coldest clouds (purple) stretched from Mobile Bay, south into the Gulf of Mexico and covered about 1/3rd of the Gulf of Mexico. Winds were 55 mph at the time of this image. The image was taken by the AIRS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite. Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen NASA

Lee’s tropical force winds now extend out 275 miles from the center. A large part of Lee is still over the Gulf of Mexico where the driving wind and rain affected operations on some oil rigs.

Lee has spawned more than a dozen tornadoes in the Gulf Coast states. The storm is spreading more heavy rain and winds on a northeast to east- northeast heading tracking towards Tennessee over the next 24 to 36 hours according to the latest weather forecasts.

Meanwhile Hurricane Katia is packing winds of 110 MPH and is on a path that could cause it to make landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina just a week after the state suffered from Hurricane Irene.

Hurricane Katia has the potential to affect the launch of NASA’s GRAIL Lunar Mappers slated for liftoff on Sept. 8 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, depending on its exact course.

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

Irene caused extensive flooding and devastation on the hundred year scale in several US states still reeling from flooding and destruction. More than 43 deaths have been reported so far, including emergency rescue workers. Initial damage estimates are over $6 Billion.

Thousands of East Coast homes and businesses are still without power as strong after effects from Irene continue to play out.

President Obama toured flood stricken areas of Paterson, New Jersey today (Sept. 4).

According to a statement by Rob Gutro, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md; Tropical Storm Lee’s winds had dropped from 60 mph exactly 24 hours before to 45 mph at 8 a.m. EDT on Sept. 4.

Lee’s center was over Vermillion Bay, Louisiana near 29.7 North and 92.0 West. It was crawling to the northeast near 3 mph (6 kmh) and expected to continue in that direction today, turning to the east-northeast tonight. Because Lee’s center is over land, he is expected to continue weakening gradually in the next couple of days. Lee’s outer bands still extend far over the Gulf of Mexico, bringing in more moisture and keeping the system going.

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
This visible image of Tropical Storm Lee was taken from the GOES-13 satellite on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 9:32 a.m. EDT. It shows the extent of Lee's cloud cover over Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. The clearing on the southeastern side is a result of drier air moving in and preventing development of thunderstorms. Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

Deadly and Destructive Path of Hurricane Irene seen in NASA Videos and Images

NASA Video Caption: The Life of Hurricane Irene from the Caribbean to Canada from August 21 through August 29 seen by NASA/NOAA satellites. Credit: NASA/NOAA/GOES/MODIS

The new NASA animation above shows the birth and subsequent destructive and deadly path followed by Hurricane Irene from August 21 through August 29, 2011 starting in the Caribbean, and then tracking along the US East Cost and up into Canada. The observations combine images taken by NASA and NOAA Earth orbiting satellites.

The cloud images were captured by the NASA/NOAA GOES-13 satellite and overlaid on a true-color NASA MODIS map. Irene followed a lengthy course over Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Bahamas, and then along the entire US East with landfalls over North Carolina, New Jersey and New York.

NASA ISS astronaut Ron Garan and cameras flying overhead aboard the International Space Station (ISS) also photographed vivid images showing the magnitude of Irene slamming into the US East coast.

Irene caused widespread property damage. Massive and raging flooding in several US states destroyed houses, crushed businesses and washed away bridges and roads and more. The worst flooding is yet to come to some inland portions of Vermont, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and elsewhere as uncontrollable waters continue to rise at numerous rivers, lakes and even ponds, threatening even more misery in their wake.

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So far 41 fatalities in 12 states have been attributed to Irene and more may be expected as searches continue. Some communities have been entirely cut off due to washed out access. Airlifts of food and water have begun. More people are being evacuated from New Jersey towns today, Aug 30.

Brave emergency rescue workers have put their own lives at peril and saved the lives of countless others of all ages from babies to the elderly. Some 8 million customers, including my area, lost power due to extensive flooding, downed trees and electrical wires, and devastated infrastructure.

Hurricane Irene twitpic from the International Space Station on 8/27/11 by NASA Astronaut Ron Garan
Irene From Space and the ISS as it crossed the coast on August 27, 2011 at 3:32pm EST. Hope everyone is OK wrote NASA Astronaut Ron Garan with his twitpic from the ISS. Credit: NASA/Ron Garan aboard the ISS

Emergency crews are hard at work to restore power as quickly as possible, but many thousands of homes and businesses could be without power for up to a week or more. About 3.3 million customers are still without power today.

NASA’s GOES-13 satellite captured a dramatic view of Hurricane Irene just 28 minutes prior to making landfall over New York City. Today’s NASA Image of the day shows the humongous cloud cover spanning the US East coast from the Mid-Atlantic States up to New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and New England and into Toronto, Canada.

This GOES-13 image from Monday, August 29 at 7:45 a.m. EDT shows an active Atlantic Ocean with the remnants of Hurricane Irene moving into Quebec and Newfoundland (left), Tropical Storm Jose (center) and newly formed Tropical Depression 12 (right). Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project
Irene slams into North Carolina. The GOES-13 satellite saw Hurricane Irene on August 27, 2011 at 10:10 a.m. EDT after it made landfall at 8 a.m. in Cape Lookout, North Carolina. Irene's outer bands had already extended into New England. Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

Many transit systems and airports in Irene’s path were shutdown ahead of the storm.

Send me your photos of Irene’s destruction to post at Universe Today.

Latest Satellite Images/Videos as Hurricane Irene Bears Down on US East Coast

What a view: Here’s a video of Hurricane Irene’s path, starting on August 24 up until 18:40 UTC on August 26, 2011, as seen by a GOES satellite. Even though Hurricane Irene is continuing to slowly weaken as it pushes closer to the Carolina coast, this massive storm could affect a huge area of the Eastern US seaboard, and tropical storm force winds and squalls are buffeting the coast. Irene will impact the entire Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Coast, including Washington, Philadelphia, New York City, Hartford, Ct. and Boston this weekend.

This hurricane spans nearly 1,000 kilometers (600 miles).

Below is a video taken from the International Space Station late yesterday afternoon. Includes astronaut commentary on the view of this “huge, scary storm” from 370 km (230 miles) up:

Or click on this link to see the latest video of Hurricane Irene from GOES and Goddard Space Flight Center

Cameras mounted on the International Space Station captured this video. Forecasters are predicting landfall on the outer banks of North Carolina Saturday before tracking up the mid-Atlantic states and a possible path over the metropolitan New York area and New England late this weekend.

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Hot off the wires is this satellite image of Hurricane Irene taken less than an hour ago (as of this writing) by one of the GOES satellites for NOAA.

Here’s the latest from WeatherBug:

Imagery of Hurrican Irene from WeatherBug.com

And here’s the latest from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite on August 25:

Hurricane Irene as seen by Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite on August 25. Credit: NASA

See more up-to-date satellite images from NOAA’s cadre of Earth-observing satellites at this link.

Sources: NASA Earth Observatory, WeatherBug, NOAA, Goddard Space Flight Center

More Views of Hurricane Irene from Space: It’s Big

Here are several different views of Hurricane Irene: from 230 miles above the Earth, cameras on the International Space Station captured several views of powerful Hurricane Irene as it churned over the Bahamas at 3:10 p.m. EDT on August 24, 2011. Irene is moving to the northwest as a Category 3 hurricane, packing winds of 120 miles an hour. Irene is expected to strengthen to a Category 4 storm as it heads toward the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the Eastern Seaboard and the middle Atlantic and New England states.

See more from other satellites, below:

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This view of Irene was taken by the GOES satellite at 2:55 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on August 24, 2011. Irene now has a distinct eye and the clouds spiraling around the center are becoming more compact. The image also shows how large Irene has become, measuring several hundred kilometers across.

A three dimensional perspective of Irene, showing rainfall. Credit: NASA/TRMM satellite

This image was taken on August 22, but is a really nifty, three-dimensional view of the precipitation from Irene, as seen by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission. It reveals an area of deep convection (shown in red) near the storm’s center where precipitation-sized particles are being carried aloft. These tall towers are associated with strong thunderstorms responsible for the area of intense rain near the center of Irene seen in the previous image. They can be a precursor to strengthening as they indicate areas within a storm where vast amounts of heat are being released. This heating, known as latent heating, is what is drives a storm’s circulation and intensification.

Here’s the latest view of Irene from WeatherBug:

View of Irene from WeatherBug.com
View of Irene from WeatherBug.com

As of 8 a.m. EDT on August 25, Hurricane Irene was located near 25.5 N and 76.5 W, or 65 miles east-southeast of Nassau, Bahamas. This places it about 670 miles south of Cape Hatteras, N.C. Irene`s top sustained winds remain at 115 mph, and is moving to the northwest at 13 mph.

Sources: NASA Multimedia,