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Quiet tropics; Space Shuttle launch weather

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 1:33 PM GMT on July 01, 2006

An area of disturbed weather continues in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico, southeast of Texas. The thunderstorm activity has little organization, and strong upper-level winds from the west are creating 20-30 knots of wind shear over the system. High wind shear will continue over the Gulf the next few days, making it very unlikely for this this system to develop. The disturbance will move slowly northwest and being welcome heavy rains to South Texas and Northeast Mexico. Extreme drought conditions prevail there.

Figure 1. Total precipitation over South Texas from the Gulf of Mexico tropical wave.

Elsewhere in the tropics, there is nothing of note happening.

Space Shuttle launch weather
The weather for today's 3:49 pm EDT launch of the Space Shuttle will probably be OK at the launch site, since an easterly sea breeze is expected to push today's thunderstorm activity inland. However, upper level westerly winds may carry the upper "anvil" portion of any thunderstorms that might develop west of the launch site back east over the Shuttle, creating high clouds that the shuttle cannot fly through. I give the Shuttle a 60% chance of good enough weather to fly today. Go, Discovery!

Jeff Masters
The Day Before Launch
The Day Before Launch
The sun sets the day before tomorrows launch of STS 121 space shuttle Discovery at 3:48pm EDT at the Kennedy Space Center. The shuttle will deliver supplies and a new crew member to the international space station. June 30,2006 Photo by Gene Blevins/LA Daily news

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

Thanks for the pic Dr M. What a beautiful site. It is a shame that we can not find the appropriate funding for agencies like NASA and NOAA. It is also a shame that we cna not run them any more efficiently.

Quick Links

Ya'll have a great day.
I will be watching it go up today from the beach, hope that 60% is enough to get it off the pad.
It seems to me the showers in the gulf are moving more to n not nw maybe even ne.will upper gulf coast get any rain out of this. could it hang around long enough for shear to relax. there is defintly to much now for it to dev.
The sun sets the day before tomorrows launch of STS 121 space shuttle Discovery at 3:48pm EDT at the Kennedy

Ummm, why is the sun setting at 3:48pm in the afternoon? Should I be concerned? Am I going to die?
lol Red :)
Good luck today. Hope the weather holds clear for you.
Don't know pcola, but I agree that is the only chance it has to ever develop. The Gulf needs a CAT 2 to just meander around it very slowly for about two weeks then weaken and head north. Those water temps are too hot. So much hotter the last year.

Alright I am off to get some yard work done.

Catch ya'll latter.
pcolabob, Probabaly some afternoon showers on the north gulf coast(I know you see this everyday, lets face it from houston to FL thats the summers forecast:)), but rains directly associated with this will remain over texas/Mexico(don't know the northern extend might end). Probably an increase in moisture in the south central plains.
Maybe later even good rains in OK/Missouri/ARK.

But I'm no forecaster, I can tell you obvious things like this system is going into Tx/MX but more specifics are something I am not good at.

The problem is, us here in pcola haven't been getting those summer afternoon showers like were supposed to be getting.
No final word yet, NASA still hopes that a different combination of jets can be use instead of the thruster which it's heater failed this morning.
That would freeze the lines and that thruster can't be used for docking or heat shield inspections in space.
Here's a live feed for the launch.

The clouds are building there more than here, but moving west as well.
Ldog, maybe some of the high level moisture from this that is blown to the ne will help. A real problem in summer is that patterns(particulary in july/Aug) tend to be more stagnant than other times. You see the 3/4 forecast calling for the old 20-30% but it keeps staying at the 3/4 day out timeframe. Thats because the models in this situation tend more toward climatology as you go out. So they assume an abnormal high will weaken.
Same with rainfall events, they'll call for it to weaken over time which it sometimes doesn't.

Thats also the problem with tropical sytems ending droughts. How many times have you seen a system hit already soaked area. Well the area under the drought most likely isn't goin to get hit due to a deep high anchored over it. whereas you don't have a deep high right now ovwer you, you do have a good surface high and that combined with the current upper winds mean that the system in the bahamas will get split, most going northwar and the rest scooting under the high. Sad situation for the Panhandle over to LA and I hope that ends soon.

The good news I see for ya'll(and like I said I'm no forecaster) is that as the upper low weakens over texas that might help you.
New Hurricane Names
Should the National Hurricane Center or World Meteorological Organization introduce the letters Q, U, X, Y, Z letters into the naming scheme or introduce surnames to storms?

Answer to Sunday's Question: Hurricane Katrina was more intense than Hurricane Camille. Intensity refers to central pressure. But Hurricane Camille winds were higher than Hurricane Katrina.

my blog

leave the answers at my blog or email me
Hello and good morning-afternoon to you all.Phew, it's july and still nothing in the horizon. Well that's good news, but.... there is so little to talk about.
The picture is very beautiful, I wish I could go there.
Right now like Doc said about upper anvil and cumulus clouds indicate a NO go for the shuttle, so it will be matter if opening happens at the launch time. No word yet on thruster failure situation, getting close.
That is a nice photo. Golds and lighter earth tones have a warm and nostalgic, feel and the space program embodies a positive, cooperative future outlook -- Like the sun rising in the background. This photo emphasizing the anticipatable moment is a connecting and highlighting contrast. The stairs/supports and clouds are especially nice.

Anywho - now the dust is settled a bit in the gulf I think you can see two distinct systems. One on the coast of Mexico probably associated with the original tropical wave and the, other mid gulf. For all the activity yesterday this thing is really slow.
Looking at how the strong the wind shear is and how long it seems it will prevail I predict we will not see another tropical system until mid August. I think this season will be relatively quite. I am also go to make the prediction that the northeast will see a cat 1 or 2 hurricane and west central Florida (Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice, North Port, Port Charlotte, and Englewood area)will also see a cat 2 or 3 hurricane in early October.
The astronaughts are boarding the elavator, to go up & board. Clouds have cleared overhead & to the east for now. A few remain off to the west heading west. The short lived seabreeze shower just west of the landing strip has headed out.
94L and 95L are gone
There just sleeping taz ok, - well, there a mess! The storm formally known as 94l is starting to stream across Florida upper level and crossing the gulf coast now.
Astro, you better pray that you do not have a storm headed in to the Gulf anywhere with any kind of decent conditions. The waters are just too warm. Check the link I psoted earlier.

I think I'll watch the launch in HD on satellite instead of heading to the beach again. Up here in Jax the launch site is a little too far away and all we see is a bright light and the plume. It freaked me out a few years ago while I was driving on the highway. Looked in my rearview and thought we'd gone to war! "Nukes Away!" I had to pull over and look again...

LOL....That's probably what I would have thought, several years ago during an early evening launch, if I hadn't read about it being visible here in Charleston. It was pretty cool!
I have lived in Florida most of my life & there is traditionally a 50/50 chance of afternoon thunderstorms in the afternoon in the months of June & July. I would have the launch time between 7:00 AM & noon and not at 3:49 PM. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.
Prety much the same here, Gator..those afternoon T-storms.
GainesvilleGator: I would have the launch time between 7:00 AM & noon and not at 3:49 PM.

I'm sure they've thought of that. Thats why they are in the control tower, and we are on a message board talking about it.
Looking at how the strong the wind shear is and how long it seems it will prevail I predict we will not see another tropical system until mid August. I think this season will be relatively quite. I am also go to make the prediction that the northeast will see a cat 1 or 2 hurricane and west central Florida (Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice, North Port, Port Charlotte, and Englewood area)will also see a cat 2 or 3 hurricane in early October.

I hope the shear never goes away. Just say no to tropical blobs, especially if they exist in the Carribean Ocean
caneman: Just say no to tropical blobs

Shuttle got the OK at 2:30 EDT to launch without the thruster. Now is up to the weather, to cooperate.
So far No go due to weather but they are stil watching.
Still in holding.
Launch isn't going to go.
Nope weather is not going to let it go.
Try again tommorow.
I am at work. Why didnt it go off? Wind?
Yep no go as far as weather. close proximity of anvil clouds & lightning within 20 miles... BUMMER!!!!!!
Oh, I see that now on the radar. Not much, but enough. Thought the seabreeze would push it all away. Oh well.
Tough in the summer here. Should do it in the early morning. But then ya have the fog..LOL
Just read on NASA site the mission scrubbed Total Bummer!!!!
July Predictions
After, the Atlantic has seen its first Tropical Storm in June-Alberto...What are your predictions on how many storms likely will likely form in July 2006?
leave answers at my blog or email me..

You can give reasons for your answers.

watching NASA channel. They just scrubbed the mission. Freakin Fla. weather!!!
Heh. Actually it's a very nice Florida day today. Warm, sunny, with the promise of rain later.

They probably won't launch tomorrow, either. Too much moisture advecting up from the caribbean.
It got set back tomorrow 23 min earlier .
Tommorrow, 66% more chance of rain at Cape. Yay.
actually the weather was 30 miles out. 25 miles is the limit. The Launch Director said technically it was a Go but they wanted to make sure. The Flight Director here in Houston called for a no Go also
Im just a little south on Merritt Island and it sure did look cloudy from my front yard. Wouldnt have been able to get a photo.

Ill be very surprised if they launch tomorrow.

Lets put it this way. I need to mow the grass and today seems like the best choice. Rain chances will be way up tomorrow and Monday.

Typical July in Florida pattern.
You don't want no huroocanes in the Gulf of Mexico, no cat 2 wandering around for a week neither. You want fish storms to equilibra-ize the heat. Check here.
small storm would be nice for the rain
Dateline Texas: We're gettin that right now! Yay!

Have to call up the family and see what's happening in La.
Swirl, swirls everywhere ... and not a drop to drink.

When you get tired of looking for swirls here, you can look in other places, too.
bappit, I stand corrected. No storms in the Gulf or Carib. Maybe a meandering tropical storms with a lot of shear. Crazy Hot.
50. IKE
In the....for what it's worth department...the CMC and NOGAPS both have a tropical system coming onto the gulf coast in 6-7 days.
ike how about posting that everytime i go to the ensembles
they and look at surface pressure alli get is all orange
high pressure thanks
It looks like a tropical wave is heading for SE Florida. No threat of it organizing but I would say this puts tomorrow's shuttle launch on thin ice.
also sj you can elaborate on this if not for this shear as warm as the water
is especially in the gulf due to the drought we probable would
have had 3 maybe 4 named systems by now so when this shear lessens with these water temps
i thinkthe ones who are saying this will be a slow season if they live on the coast might be slowly
digging up thier possesions like we did on the ms coast after katrin.
July Predictions
After, the Atlantic has seen its first Tropical Storm in June-Alberto...What are your predictions on how many storms likely will likely form in July 2006?
leave answers at my blog or email me..

You can give reasons for your answers.
bappit, what I want is not a repeat of last year where Wilma came through here and gave us south floridians alot of problems in a small amount of time. Fish storms I am fine with, a little more rain I am fine with.
Bummed about the no go on the shuttle, perhaps tommarrow. Ended up in Indialantic.

For all of those wondering why NASA picked middle of the afternoon for a launch....It's all about the launch window. It has to do with trajectory path to where your going & your emergency landing areas. Some windows to planets (like mars) only come in a cluster every few years.
"actually the weather was 30 miles out. 25 miles is the limit. The Launch Director said technically it was a Go but they wanted to make sure. The Flight Director here in Houston called for a no Go also"

funny...... the flight director, weather officer, and range director "all" mentioned the 20 mile limit...... but hey...... maybe my hearing is going bad.....
58. IKE
SAINTHUURIFAN...here's a link>>>>Link
59. IKE
We have been so hyped, sometimes we think a "tropical system" has to be a hurllycane. I see weak lows on both models IKE mentions. My link. Those are tropical systems in my book (or whatever). GFS has a more storm-like system spinning up the East Pacific. All of these models are highly speculative of course. They do all seem to agree on another high coming down out of Canada into the central U.S.
wow..... cmc 850mb vorticity shows miami (48 hrs)and new orleans (110 hrs) gettin whacked.....

is there any other models which show that......
Hey, IKE! We gave the same link. So here's another.
OK I understand that there is a 10 minute launch window for the Space Shuttle to reach the space station--but are there not other launch windows at night? Launching in the middle of the afternoon. In Central Florida. In July. And NOT expecting thunderstorms to form which could cause anvils to come within 20 miles of the launch site is nuts.
anyone have a shear map? how bad is the shear around the convection that was 93L? is there any circulation at all anymore?
actually, we have been missing a lot of afternoon storms here. we had a dry june. and a nasty year in 1998. seems like less storms the last 10 years but I do not have any data. fluctuating, of course, but our seabreezes seem like they produce less rain than say, 10 years ago..?
was supposed to be "10-20 years ago"
I'm bad, I'm sorry. but this has been a very nice 2 weeks or so for the seabreeze fronts. just wanted to clarify. I miss the 4:00PM almost every day storm. yay for orange county, lightning capitol of the world.
Good question, the only idea I have is that they want all the cameras to be able to see max resolution so they can tell if foam falls off. I many ways this is just a big experiment.

Babbit, as for the CMC showing the vort max, well all it shows in the pressure fields is a weak inveted trough over miami and then it becoming closed of over the gulf but never really strong.

The GFS just shows the inverted trough, but thats all. Unless the shear lets up we're in the clear for a few days. This westerly flow pattern just is bad for development. Not to unusual,the end of june and start of july is usually super quiet. That being said you can always have the storm that finds the right place to form.
Evening all....
Hey Sky,

I had too much traffic and got to late of a start to go to the launch.... Thank goodness. Well maybe tommorrow! weather looks worse though.
72. WSI
"how accurate has that cmc model been in the past?"

That model has really overdone the tropical systems this year. It called Alberto before any model, but it also called for several other waves to turn into tropical cyclones, none of which did obviously.
July Predictions
After, the Atlantic has seen its first Tropical Storm in June-Alberto...What are your predictions on how many storms will likely form in July 2006?
leave answers at my blog or email me..

You can give reasons for your answers.

74. MZT
CMC and GFS seem to be "ambitious" models and they predict a lot of systems that never materialize. The GFDL seems a little more balanced.
Evening all. Just stopping in. Things are quite for the time being, but the SSTs are not looking good.

Quick Links

See ya'll later.
as WSI said, the CMC tends to overdo it. One thing to do is look at how realistic the solution is given where we are now(particularly look at the near future for example 48 hrs). In this case the answer is not very realistic. I for one can't see much of a wave intensifying in the current enviroment.

Remember models are not particularly useful in actually forecasting devlopment. Now they are useful in forecasting favorable conditions(relaxed shear etc, though we've all seen storms where the shear is forecast to weaken and that doesn't happen).

A person looking at satellite and charts still has a distinct advantage. This is one part of met that is still largely an art.
On this line of reduced shear, looking at the gfs, there are areas that will be favorable for development after the 4th. Perhaps the gulf would be one of them, so if the CMC model did luck out and was right, something could intensify in the northern gulf. Not saying it will, but that the gfs shows favorable condition(strictly from a shear sense) if you get a preexisting low there. Still the atlantic seems to have much to fast air flow for much of anything except in a few areas.

Whats also amazing is how far south the favorable area in the epacifc is located. South of 11/12. That's also important, the Epacific is a counter indicator of the Atlantic.
Night all.
They launch in the afternoon because they want it to be daylight so they can take good pictures of the external tank and watch for foam loss.

The launch window is very small because they are going to rendezvous with the International Space Station. The ISS needs to be at a certain position in the sky when the shuttle launches in order for them to rendezvous and dock without it taking a long time and a ton of fuel.

Trust me, these decisions are not made lightly; there are methods to the madness. :)
good eveningguys....i just wanted to let u guys know i just updated my blog on my thoughts so far of whats bring going on in the 2006 atlantic hurricane season and also what i expect in july.Stop by and check it out leave me a comment.thanks adrian

ps!also added tropical storm EWINIAR.
Having a bit of convection blowing up in the western gulf tonight.
i noticed that Skyepony, can't find any rotation or lower pressures in that area though....might be just a flare up....

evening all.......anything up in the gulf tonight worth watching
83. MelS
My husband and I watched the event on NASA TV and was feeling rather bummed about the scrubbed mission....oh well. safety first for the lives of the crew. There will be another day to fly and reach the stars.
OK, I see the convection too. I agree, there is no rotation or low pressure. Isn't this the time that convection is supposed to lay down?

It unfortunately looks like the shear is starting to decrease in the gulf. With those SSTs, that can NOT be a good thing?

I hope that this blob in SW gulf goes on shore soon. I also see some convection coming off of the Yucatan into Campeche. That better lay down too.

Is anyone else nervous about the gulf over the next few days?
Link Looks like we might have something, until it gets shredded I hope.
This is more like the time of day when the convection gets fired up. The air temps are cooler than the water 83.1/84(Buoy 42002~ just NE of blob) winds are 15.5 kts gusts to near 20, from the ESE. The pressure is 30.04in & rising, so I wouldn't flip out. Looks like it has just come back over the water again, worthy of blob title again, for now, but that's about it. The convection coming off Yukatan into BOC, will most likely be gone by morning & it's closeness to blob should hinder blob.
the dry air that was all around the gulf in may and june is starting to disappear. this is one factor that has been squashing development, and it looks like it's on its way out. i wouldn't be surprised to see a cyclone or two in the gulf in july.
Yeah, cajunkid. That's the only scary part about it...it looks like it's organizing quick. Nice link:)
ill be watching anything coming into the western carrib...over the next couple of weeks....hmm...should be an interesting july...night guys, have a good one.
Starting to see some spin on the brownsville radar. I think we may have a depression forming in the next 12 hours.....

Here's hoping that what appears to be spin is just shear on the north end of blob.

I couldn't see spin myself over 40 frames of radar animation.

Hopefully this is nothing and we're seeing things from watching it too much. Just rain on South Texas, I'm going to go to bed & hope it's gone in the morning.
We haven't seen this much flare-up this late, it also looks like some banding to the north and south. I hope it dies out like the last couple nights. We will just have to wait and see.
Radar means surface/low-level. It mostly detects precipitation.
What I guess is creeping me out more is the apparent movement of clouds to the West south of the center... That hasn't happened with any of our blobs recently.

Visible here:


I'm interested to see what NHC is saying about it before bed, anyone have a link?
check this out Link
oh, if you guys haven't done so yet, you have to upgrade to Internet Explorer 7. Its ten times better similar to firefox
205 AM EDT SUN JUL 02 2006


I think What I see is that L in Mexico pulling on the south end of the convection. It looks like its all about to die now. night all
cajunkid do not go this yet i have send you a wu e mail
there might be some spin Link
110. IKE
This tropical season...both in the Atlantic and Pacific have been duds so far in 2006. I hope it continues. There is nothing out there. I'm glad...may the shear continue.

Day 33....150 to go and it's over.
IKE...Did you get any rain off the Gulf stuff yet?
IKE, I wouldn't call an above average June a dud for the atlantic.
TampaCat5....Historically speaking this season so far is still above average. I'm not going to look it up....but how many years have we gone until August before a named storm? Plenty.
Historicaly storms do not form in the Atlantic in
Ummm... Hurricane Andrew was August 24, 1992. If I remember correctly, Dr. Gray said that year only 4 hurricanes formed?

To me, being in So. Florida that was a very bad year for hurricanes.

It aint over till its over and you can't tell how bad for you the season will be until the season over on November 30 (and apparently in 2005 for a litle longer than Nov. 30).
Before you call this season off, read this.

Notice the graphs of activity and the table the show the average activity; on average, the first storm forms on July 11 and the second on August 8.
: MichaelSTL so i am up want to talk i my blog
Good mornining all.

Just stopping in before heading off to do some yard work.

With all of the talk of this being a slower season, I am very concerned about the potential for some very dangerous landfalling systems this season. The temps in the Gulf, Carib, and E coast are already as warm and warmer in some location as they were last year on July 15th. My blog has year to year SST comparison maps. The warmer temps are surounding the coastal US and the entire Carib. These temps support rapid intensification, and if anything should get out there with favorable conditions it could be very bad. When systems are usually breaking apart at landfall, I would not be suprised to see a couple of landfalling systems that are actually intensifying right up to landfall. Please keep an eye on the sst data and understand what it means. I am also concerned that many have made it sound like ssts are actually cooler this year as opposed to last year, but that does not pertain to the areas talked about above.

Anywho enough of that for now. Ya'll have a great day, and don't forget to check out the Quick Links area on the website.

Have a great day all
July Predictions
After, the Atlantic has seen its first Tropical Storm in June-Alberto...What are your predictions on how many storms will likely form in July 2006?
leave answers at my blog or email me..

You can give reasons for your answers.
Hello and good morning............

In case you guys forgot, last year set many records and we are just a little behind that so far this year. At this time last year we only had two tropical storms barely. This year we could of had two tropical storms but i dont know if there was any shuffling going on to lessen the mental stress of another extraordinary year. The NHC is aware of comparisons to last year and to what extent they will go to lessen any panic over this season by being a little hard nosed on declaring development. Its like anything else in this world, any other job in the world, if there is no need then there is less importance on creating jobs and resources to do your job. The NHC has been underfunded for years and now they are starting to see some welcomed resources and expanded employment.

The point is that this season is way too young for any kind of analysis. 1992 was one of the most deadly and costly hurricane ever. In all reality that hurricane season only lasted about a week. A week of hell for south florida and Louisiana. Out of all the hurricanes we had last year,none, were at their potential at landfall. We could this year have a 1992 season with one major storm with just the right path(tampa, houston, miami, new york)that could blow past last year. You never know and I'm still a firm believer that we havent even come close to see what mother nature is capable of. How about a storm like charley for instance in 2004 but greater with 165mph ramming Tampa Bay. Waves 18-22 feet high.

Finally, even with all the damage and death that we have had the past 2 years, it could of been much worse. Much, much worse!!! And as always time will tell.........Peace out!
121. WSI
"if a rotation is evident on radar; does that mean its a the surface?"

Possibly, but not necessarily. A lot of it depends on the distance the storm is from the radar, and the tilt from the radar.

Here is more information
. Take a look at the graphics to get an understanding of how tilt and distance affects where the radar beam hits the system. Interesting stuff.

I also have more radar links on my blog.

Good point weatherboyfsu. On top of that when directly impacted by hurricane, thay may become the worst season for that affected area regardless of records.
Lot of great points here about the season. I'm in agreement with SJ about the SST's around Fl, Bahamas and all over the Gulf coastal regions this year. They are not cooler this year. They are warm and downright hot in most of these areas for early July.
Any possible low pressure entering these areas has the potential to Bomb extremely fast with no time to prepare. Also, weatherboyfsu has a great point about the Tampa area. It's been so extremely long since a "hit" there that it would be catastrophic even with just a cat 2. A lot of that population has basically no experience of a hurricane and are pretty apathetic and a lot of denial there.
Keep watchin the tropics.