While all eyes are on the possible “I” storm now in the Caribbean, meteorologist Chris Hebert of StormGEO sent out this tweet about an entirely new system:
Interesting little "feature" SE of the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa. While PTC Nine is producing the distraction, this non-identified disturbance looks very much like a tropical storm. Unfortunately, every scatterometer satellite missed it this morning. pic.twitter.com/Bmck8NMDAM— TropicsWatch (@TropicsWatch) July 29, 2020
First, here’s the bigger picture with possible Isaias on the west side and I’ve circled the area of interest just off Africa:
When you look at that picture above, you think, how does every scatterometer satellite miss this? Or, better yet, you think, what the heck is a scatterometer?
Scatterometers and storms
Scatterometer satellites send out microwave radiation that measures just how ocean waves are reflecting and scattering those microwaves. Wind is what is making higher waves out there and if higher waves are measured, then by calculation there are higher winds. In addition, the direction, or angle, of those winds can be determined. Thus, a somewhat strong, circulating LOW can be detected amid those bunch of clouds and an upgrade to an area of interest of even a tropical depression or storm can be determined. I’ve seen some systems come right off Africa and immediately be upgraded to storm.
These scatterometer satellites really do save the day because, as you can imagine, there is very limited data over the ocean water. So HOW did every scatterometer miss this today, as Chris Hebert points out? Well, look at an example of just how the data streams in and you can imagine that area being in a “gap” of no data!
I suspect we will “catch” this new one soon enough. In the meantime, ISAIAS is in the making but certainly taking its time! We’ll monitor whatever it becomes and can’t yet rule out some part of the Gulf as a strike point. In the meantime, here’s more on scatterometers.