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Tropical cyclone formation likely near Madagascar

NASA Aqua satellite sees banding occurring

Forecasters are watching a low pressure area located off the east coast of Madagascar that appears ripe for development in the Southern Indian Ocean. If it becomes a tropical storm, it would be named Hubert.

On March 9 the low, currently named "90S" is located near 20.1 South latitude and 50.8 East longitude is approximately 225 nautical miles east-southeast of the capital city of Antananarivo (which is located 145 miles inland from the east coast). The low's winds are estimated to be between 28- 34 mph (25 to 30 knots). The system is moving south-southeastward at 5 mph (4 knots). Minimum sea level pressure is estimated to be near 1000 millibars.

Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center noted that "Formation of a significant tropical cyclone is possible within the next 12 to 24 hours." There are a couple of factors helping this low become tropically organized: warm waters and improved banding of thunderstorms around the storm (indicating circulation and good convection, rapidly rising air that creates thunderstorms).

Animated multispectral satellite imagery shows improved organization with curved convective banding around a low level circulation center. Another satellite showed a tightly wrapped low level center of circulation.

NASA's Aqua satellite flew over 90S on March 8 at 5:23 a.m. ET and captured an infrared image from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument. AIRS infrared instrument measures cloud top and sea surface temperatures and showed that bands of convective thunderstorms are wrapping around 90S's low-level center.

Forecasters believe that the low known as "90S" has a good chance of growing up to become "Hubert."

Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
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