Laura – Atlantic Ocean

Aug. 22, 2020 – NASA-NOAA Satellite Finds a Disorganized Tropical Storm Laura Approach Puerto Rico 

NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite provided forecasters with daytime and nighttime views of Tropical Storm Laura on Aug. 21 and 22, respectively, that showed the storm’s development and movement over the Northern Leeward Islands and approach to Puerto Rico. The nighttime image showed the storm appeared more disorganized.

NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP Satellite’s Day and Night Imagery

Suomi NPP image of Laura in the day
On Aug. 21, NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite provided a visible image of Tropical Storm Laura as it was closing in on the northern Leeward Islands. Credit: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS)

During the afternoon hours on Aug.21, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite provided a visible image of Tropical Storm Laura as it was closing in on the northern Leeward Islands. In the imagery, Laura had an elongated but still somewhat rounded shape. At the time, a poorly-defined convective band of thunderstorms could be seen over the southeastern portion of the circulation. Overall, the system’s cloud pattern still had a ragged appearance.

Twelve hours later, at about 2 a.m. EDT on Aug. 22, a nighttime image of Tropical Storm Laura showed the structure appeared more elongated.  By 5 a.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) Hurricane forecaster Jack Beven noted Laura was regaining organization. “Overall, the system has become a little better organized since the last advisory, with strong convection forming not far from the center to the east and southeast and a somewhat better defined circulation,” Beven said in the NHC Discussion.

Suomi NPP image of Laura at night
NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite passed the Atlantic Ocean in the early morning hours of Aug. 22 and captured a nighttime image of Tropical Storm Laura as it was approaching Puerto Rico (left) lit up by bright city nights. Credit: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS)

At that time, surface observations and Doppler radar data from Puerto Rico indicated that the center of Laura is currently over the Virgin Islands, eastern Puerto Rico, and the adjacent Caribbean waters.

Imagery from NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite was created using the NASA Worldview application at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Numerous Watches and Warnings Now in Effect

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) has posted many watches and warnings for Laura on Aug. 22.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra; the U.S. Virgin Islands; the British Virgin Islands; St. Maarten; St. Martin and St. Barthelemy; the northern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the border with Haiti; the southern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Punta Palenque; the northern coast of Haiti from Le Mole St. Nicholas to the border with the Dominican Republic; the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the central Bahamas.

Tropical Storm Laura’s Status on Aug. 22

At 8 a.m. EDT (1500 UTC), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) noted the center of Tropical Storm Laura was located near latitude 17.7 degrees north and longitude 66.0 degrees west. Laura’s center was just 50 miles (80 km) south of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Laura was moving to the west near 21 mph (33 kph) and a generally west-northwestward motion is expected over the next few days. Maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph (65 p/h) with higher gusts. Slow strengthening is expected during the next few days. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles (335 km) mainly to the north of the center. The estimated minimum central pressure based on surface observations is 1006 millibars.

Heavy Rainfall, Ocean Swells, Tropical-Storm Force Winds

Despite Laura’s disorganized appearance in satellite imagery Laura is expected to bring heavy rainfall, ocean swells, tropical-storm force winds to Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba.

NHC cautioned, “Laura is expected to produce 3 to 6 inches of rain over Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, the southern Haitian Peninsula and eastern Cuba through Sunday. Maximum amounts up to 8 inches are possible along eastern portions and the southern slopes of Puerto Rico, as well as over Haiti, the Dominican Republic and eastern Cuba. This heavy rainfall could lead to flash and urban flooding, as well as an increased potential for mudslides with minor river flooding in Puerto Rico.

One to three inches of rain with isolated maximum totals of 5 inches are expected over the northern Leeward Islands, the Turks and Caicos and southeast Bahamas.

Tropical storm conditions are expected within portions of the warning area this morning through Sunday.  Tropical storm conditions are possible within portions of the watch area Sunday night.

Swells generated by Laura are affecting portions of the northern Leeward Islands.  These swells are expected to spread across the northern coasts of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba, and much of the Bahamas during the next few days.”

Laura’s Forecast Track

On the forecast track, the center of Laura is expected to move near or over Hispaniola this afternoon and tonight, and near or over eastern Cuba Sunday and Sunday night, before moving into the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, Aug. 24.

About NASA’s EOSDIS Worldview

NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Worldview application provides the capability to interactively browse over 700 global, full-resolution satellite imagery layers and then download the underlying data. Many of the available imagery layers are updated within three hours of observation, essentially showing the entire Earth as it looks “right now.”

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By Rob Gutro 
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center