First Alert Weather Alert: Flood Warning expires at 10:04 PM on 4/24, issued at 10:04 PM Blackshear, GA | Bristol, GA | Mershon, GA | Millwood, GA

Hot Now But Cooler, Much Less Humid for the Weekend... Oklahoma Tornado Explainer... Early Season Tropical Development POSSIBLE... Critical Satellite Fails

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Updated: 5/23/2013 12:05 am

Locally heavy showers & storms again Wed.  0.49" in just 10 min. at Trout River north of downtown Jax...1-2" near the St. Johns Town Center...just 0.24" at JIA.  A weak upper level disturbance & trough of low pressure will move across the area Thu.  The deep moisture that we've had over the area the last few days will have already pushed off to the east, but we should still see at least a few scattered storms fire later in the day & move east to the coast.  A few strong storms will be possible.
It still looks like some fantastic weather for the holiday weekend with lower humidity & comfortable temps.  Highs will be 80-85 but lows will dip into the 50s inland, low to mid 60s at the beaches.

I went to college for several years at Oklahoma University studying meteorology.  I still have friends in the Norman/Oklahoma City area.  I've checked on them, & they're all o.k.  Stunned but not directly affected.  One of those friends -- Louis Wicker -- is a research meteorologist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman & authored an excellent column for CNN about the ingredients that came together to produce Monday's killer tornado -- click ** here **.  Check out the image from the NOAA Satellite & Information Center below.  The data/image shows the rotational velocity of the systems that moved over the Southern Plains on Mon., May 20th.  Notice the strong velocities in Central Oklahoma that directly correlate to the Moore EF-5 tornado.  Most of the other dark red/bright orange signatures were also tornado-producing supercells.

NOAA will issue their outlook for the hurricane season about midday Thu.  I suspect the forecast will not stray far from Colorado State's already issued prediction a couple of months ago that calls for a season that will be well above avg. in terms of named storms, hurricanes & "major" -- or Cat. 3+ hurricanes.

And PERHAPS right on cue, there are signals -- & I emphasize signals -- that there may be some tropical activity the first week or so of June.  Long range forecast models -- the American GFS in particular -- have been hitting on long range tropical development.  As one would expect, the model has been inconsistent with where & how strong, but the key is the broad idea of possible development & -- at this range -- not so much exact location.  I personally would favor the NW Caribbean &/or Gulf of Mexico at this point.  It's important not to focus too much on a model showing long range development unless there might be some other contributing factors.  And in this case, there are several other signals to key in on:

* The GFS had a good history of tropical cyclone genesis last year.  AND in the one case of tropical development already this season in the E. Pacific, the GFS nailed its (Alvin) formation a couple of weeks ago.

* Check out the Velocity Potential Anomalies map below.  I -- & other meteorologists -- use this tool frequently during the hurricane season -- if conditions are right -- to help get a general sense of when tropical development might occur.  In its simplest terms, the green area coincides with rising air that can enhance convection (t'storms).  Such an environment can also aid tropical development (if all other conditions are equal).  The "green area"/atmospheric lift over the Central & Eastern Pacific should spread eastward with time & might be an indicator of potential tropical development in the next 10-14 days or so.

* Ocean temps. are marginal (80 degrees F or about 26 degrees C) over the Northern Gulf & Western Atlantic but are warm enough from the Yucatan Channel through the Fl. Straits & into the SW Atlantic.

No need to go crazy on this possibility at this time, but it's something to watch.

The satellite -- GOES-East -- which covers the Eastern U.S. & tropical Atlantic has failed about midnight Tue. night. Good explainer from AccuWeather:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operating geostationary satellite, known as GOES-East (GOES-13 and GOES-N), experienced trouble with its imaging equipment.

Engineers were working on repairing the imager, via software updates, but were unsuccessful as of Wednesday midday.

As an immediate, but marginal solution to the problem, a satellite based over the Pacific Ocean, GOES-15, which also is the main satellite for the western U.S. will take full-disc images of the Earth.

The satellite coverage from GOES-15 results in distorted images of the eastern U.S. and the western Atlantic and would be a significant concern for forecasters and the public at large going into the Atlantic hurricane season.

NOAA is reactivating another satellite, GOES-14. Officials expect the new craft to be available early on Thursday, May 23, 2013.

During September 2012, when GOES-13 experienced a similar problem, GOES 14 was activated and data was retransmitted over GOES-13.

This meant that government and private sector users of the satellite data did not have to adjust their receivers (dishes).

Impact on computer models, which use the data from GOES-13, should also be short-lived, due to the anticipated retransmission of data.

A greater concern would be if GOES-14 should experience a problem, since there would be a much more limited choice of options, possibly extending to foreign satellite coverage. The next U.S. based geostationary satellite, yet to be launched is slated for use over the western U.S. and eastern Pacific.

The geostationary satellites orbit the Earth at the same speed of the Earth's rotation which allows them to stay in one position over the globe.

Computer model data relies more on polar-orbiting satellites, and impact on the models would likely be slight.

However, these polar-orbiting satellites only pass over the tropics at brief intervals and there is the potential for some loss of data should the GOES-13 imager be out permanently and GOES-14 experiences problems.

According to NOAA's Office of Satellite and Product Operations, GOES satellites constantly monitor severe thunderstorms, flooding rainfall and hurricanes and are key instruments for meteorologists to provide watches and warnings for these dangerous weather phenomena.

It could take several weeks before GOES-14 to be moved into optimal position for coverage of the Western Atlantic Basin with the approach of the hurricane season.

GOES-13, the first of three new generation satellites, experienced multiple failed launch attempts during the middle of the last decade. The craft was successfully put into orbit on May 24, 2006, and was designed to be in operation for 10 years.

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