Hurricane Gil Forms Quickly in the Eastern Pacific

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NASA's satellites tracked the rapidly-forming Tropical Storm Gil in the early hours of July 31st. Photo: NASA / CC by 2.0

NASA’s satellites tracked the rapidly-forming Tropical Storm Gil in the early hours of July 31st. Photo courtesy of NASA / CC by 2.0

While the new 2013-2014 hurricane season has been relatively quiet, and is still in its early days, a powerful storm is brewing in Tropical Storm Gil.

Gil formed in the Eastern Pacific Ocean on July 30th, and it quickly became a well-organized storm, turning into Tropical Storm Gil within a few hours.

In the mid-afternoon of July 31st, the storm officially became Hurricane Gil, with winds of 75 mph.

Meteorologists expect Gil to intensify and continue to move west-northwest over the next few days.

The hurricane is currently located to the southwest of Baja California, and if it proceeds as forecasters suggest, its path will take it further out into the ocean.

Hurricane Gil is ‘Well-Organized Storm’ – What Does That Mean?

A well-organized storm doesn’t have a day planner, and doesn’t show up early to important functions.

When NASA and the National Hurricane Center talk about a storm’s organization, they are actually talking about the patterns of air movement in a storm.

Vertical wind shear – the upward movement of air – is an important factor in the organization of a storm. A storm that has very little updraft can cause rain and wind, but the rainy downdraft will help it disperse. When forecasters notice that there are strong areas with vertical wind shear, this means that the storm will likely stay around longer and have a certain pattern of development. Tropical Storm Gil has gotten organized quickly, and satellite photos show bands of rain around an eye.

Hot Towers Give Clues About Potential Hurricane Development

Technology allows storm-watchers to track the formation of storms and look for clues that the a tropical depression could form into a much more intense and potentially damaging hurricane, such as the presence of hot towers.

When a tropical storm or hurricane begins, it may contain hot towers; high thunderclouds that reach far into the troposphere, up to nine miles into the air. As the air rises, it cools, and the cooling process sends out heat. The combination of heat and high towering clouds lends these weather formations their name of ‘hot towers.’ While not all tropical depressions turn into stronger storms, and many of them disintegrate, the presence of these tall, warm, air masses indicates that it’s twice as likely that a particular tropical depression will turn into a hurricane.

Hurricane Gil: Hot Towers and Intensifying

The presence of hot towers amid an intensifying and well-organized storm turned Tropical Depression 7E into ‘Hurricane Gil.’ Will Gill turn into a severe hurricane, or will it spin itself out?

The National Hurricane Center predicts that Gil will be a, “… minimal hurricane with winds of 75 knots (~86 mph) by August 1.”

It’s August 1st, so let’s watch the weather!

Resources

NASA. NASA Finds Powerful Storms in Tropical Storm Gil. (2013). Accessed August 1, 2013.

National Hurricane Center. Hurricane GIL Forecast Discussion. (2013). Accessed August 1, 2013.

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