Tropical Storm Lowell: Eastern Pacific Cyclone May Enhance Monsoon Rains in Southwest
August 21, 2014
Tropical Storm Lowell is churning over the Eastern Pacific, roughly 800 miles west-southwest of the tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula.
Lowell formed as Tropical Depression Twelve-E Sunday evening and was upgraded to the season's 12th named storm in the Eastern Pacific basin Monday evening.
Lowell continues to move northwestward, albeit very slowly. That direction of motion will continue with a slight increase in forward speed over the next few days. Lowell's track will be roughly parallel to the coast of Mexico, but well offshore.
Lowell strengthened some early Thursday morning and in a moist environment with warm water, but with some wind shear, some additional strengthening is possible through Thursday before moving into a more suppressing, stable air mass and cooler water.
According to The Weather Channel hurricane specialist, Michael Lowry, Lowell's circulation is, by some measures, 800-900 miles across, almost a third of the width of the contiguous U.S. This large circulation may eventually draw Tropical Storm Karina, now nearly 1,000 miles to its west, toward it and northward, with the two systems possibly even pinwheeling around each other (something called the Fujiwhara effect).
Moisture from Lowell in the mid- and upper layers of the atmosphere (the troposphere, strictly speaking) is forecast to spread into parts of Arizona and New Mexico Thursday and Friday. This should boost the chance of monsoon-related thunderstorms in that region temporarily.
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The latest forecast path and wind speeds from the National Hurricane Center.
So, where exactly is Lowell's center located now? If you're plotting the storm along with us, the information depicted in the map above provides the latitude/longitude coordinates, distance away from the nearest land location, maximum sustained winds and central pressure (measured in millibars).
This infrared satellite image shows how cold (and therefore how high) the cloud tops are. Brighter orange and red shadings concentrated near the center of circulation signify a healthy tropical cyclone.
MORE: Hurricanes From Space