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The Birth of a Tropical Storm [VIDEO]

Jul 18, 2014 07:11 PM EDT
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Have you ever witnessed the birth of a tropical storm? NASA's Teraa satellite happened to be passing over the Central Pacific Ocean just in time to witness Tropical Storm Wali form just southeast of Hawaii's Big Island.
(Photo : NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team )

Have you ever witnessed the birth of a tropical storm? NASA's Teraa satellite happened to be passing over the Central Pacific Ocean just in time to witness Tropical Storm Wali form just southeast of Hawaii's Big Island.

Wali , who started to form yesterday afternoon, is actually the first Tropical Storm of the season and has already prompted a Flash Flood Watch for the Hawaiian Islands.

According to NASA, Wali was initially classified as "Tropical Depression 1C" after being noticed by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC).

While large enough to earn some attention, 1C looked to be rather boring for an approaching storm, with sustained winds approaching only about 35 mph.

However, by late afternoon, winds within the center of 1C started to pick up, reaching an average sustained speed of 45 mph - enough to elevate it to "Tropical Storm" status and earning it a proper name.

And the winds have not let up since then. As of this morning, Wali maintained 45 mph wind speeds as it made its way towards east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii. The CPHC expects Wali to maintain this course into Saturday, where it may take a slight turn west, unleashing thunderstorms across the islands into Monday.

While Tropical storms certainly do not hold the awe-inspiring potential for destruction that hurricanes have, it is still fascinating to watch as 1C becomes Wali, as captured by the NOAA's GOES-West satellite from July 15 to 18.

[Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project]

Tropical depressions form when atmospheric churning brings a group of thunderstorms together. Conflicting pressures eventually become organized and direct inward, whipping up elevated winds towards a depression's center. By the time these winds approach 35 to 64 knots (39-73 mph), the formation has started to rotate, becoming a Tropical Storm - a significant threat for heavy rainfall and extended lightning storms. Given the right conditions - especially dropping surface pressure - winds at the center of a Tropical storm may escalate to at least 64 knots, creating a true hurricane.

Wali is not expected to ramp up any further, likely spinning down into a depression and then disbursing by Sunday afternoon.

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