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Rain to Increase Again... May Averages... Hurricane on Saturn... NASA & Iowa Flood Center

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Updated: 4/30/2013 10:35 pm

A lull for most of the First Coast through Wed. as there will still be a few showers but pretty widely scattered.  The exception will be south & southwest of Jax where shower & t'storm coverage will be higher..  It turns wetter again Thu.-Fri. as a pair of upper level low pressure systems move east & north & combine with a moist onshore east wind to produce quite bit of rain both days.  Where (if) persistent rain bands set up off the Atlantic, there will be locally heavy rain.  Temps. will still be seasonably warm Wed. then drop some for Thu. & Fri. thanks to the flow off the Atlantic.  It'll be especially cool at the beaches along with an enhanced rip current risk.  The pattern should slowly break down over the weekend though much will depend on the location of cut-off upper level low (see post from Mon. & last Thu.) which forecast models continue to struggle with.

The month of May is upon us.  Below are the monthly averages for JIA:
                                       1st                                       31st
Low / High                     58 / 82                                  67 / 88
SR/SS                   6:43am / 8:05pm                   6:25am / 8:23pm - increase of 36 min. of daylight
Rainfall  2.48"


WASHINGTON -- NASA's Cassini spacecraft has provided scientists the first close-up, visible-light views of a behemoth hurricane swirling around Saturn's north pole.

In high-resolution pictures and video, scientists see the hurricane's eye is about 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) wide, 20 times larger than the average hurricane eye on Earth. Thin, bright clouds at the outer edge of the hurricane are traveling 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second). The hurricane swirls inside a large, mysterious, six-sided weather pattern known as the hexagon.

"We did a double take when we saw this vortex because it looks so much like a hurricane on Earth," said Andrew Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging team member at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "But there it is at Saturn, on a much larger scale, and it is somehow getting by on the small amounts of water vapor in Saturn's hydrogen

Scientists will be studying the hurricane to gain insight into hurricanes on Earth, which feed off warm ocean water. Although there is no body of water close to these clouds high in Saturn's atmosphere, learning how these Saturnian storms use water vapor could tell scientists more about how terrestrial hurricanes are generated and sustained.

Both a terrestrial hurricane and Saturn's north polar vortex have a central eye with no clouds or very low clouds. Other similar features include high clouds forming an eye wall, other high clouds spiraling around the eye, and a counter-clockwise spin in the northern hemisphere.

A major difference between the hurricanes is that the one on Saturn is much bigger than its counterparts on Earth and spins surprisingly fast. At Saturn, the wind in the eye wall blows more than four times faster than hurricane force winds on Earth. Unlike terrestrial hurricanes, which tend to move, the Saturnian hurricane is locked onto the planet's north pole. On Earth, hurricanes tend to drift northward because of the forces acting on the fast swirls of wind as the planet rotates. The one on Saturn does not drift and is already as far north as it can be.

"The polar hurricane has nowhere else to go, and that's likely why it's stuck at the pole," said Kunio Sayanagi, a Cassini imaging team associate at Hampton University in Hampton, Va.

Scientists believe the massive storm has been churning for years. When Cassini arrived in the Saturn system in 2004, Saturn's north pole was dark because the planet was in the middle of its north polar winter. During that time, Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer and visual and infrared mapping spectrometer detected a great vortex, but a visible-light view had to wait for the passing of the equinox in August 2009. Only then did sunlight begin flooding Saturn's northern hemisphere. The view required a change in the angle of Cassini's orbits around Saturn so the spacecraft could see the poles.

"Such a stunning and mesmerizing view of the hurricane-like storm at the north pole is only possible because Cassini is on a sportier course, with orbits tilted to loop the spacecraft above and below Saturn's equatorial plane," said Scott Edgington, Cassini deputy project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "You cannot see the polar regions very well from an equatorial orbit. Observing the planet from different vantage points
reveals more about the cloud layers that cover the entirety of the planet."

Cassini changes its orbital inclination for such an observing campaign only once every few years. Because the spacecraft uses flybys of Saturn's moon Titan to change the angle of its orbit, the inclined trajectories require attentive oversight from navigators. The path requires careful planning years in advance and sticking very precisely to the planned itinerary to ensure enough propellant is available for the spacecraft to reach future planned orbits and

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team consists
of scientists from the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

Click ** here ** for images + video.  Image below courtesy NASA:

There's a new 6-week campaign taking place in Iowa to studying flooding: tools for the future in development with GPM satellite launch in 2014.

The field campaign, May 1 to June 15, is a partnership between NASA and the Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa, Iowa City.
The Iowa Flood Center was established after the unprecedented flooding, particularly of Cedar Rapids, in 2008, said Witold Krajewski, the Center’s director.

Since then, the Center has improved field monitoring of stream and river height and developed a ‘library’ of flood inundation maps of where flooding may occur for some of Iowa’s most vulnerable communities.
Click ** here ** for a video about the project.... ** here ** for the NASA link.

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