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.
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.
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.