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Fabio Weakens As it Nears SoCal, Satellite Shows

Post-tropical storm Fabio
When NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the post-tropical storm Fabio on July 16 it saw cloud top temperatures were warming (blue) indicating weakening. (Image credit: NASA)

Poor Fabio. First it was a hurricane, then a tropical storm, next a tropical depression. As if that wasn't bad enough, now it's a "post-tropical cyclone," a generic term for a storm that's moved out of tropical waters.

Winds and rain from Fabio have already reached southern California, but the system is weakening further.

NASA's Aqua satellite took an image of the storm on July 16 that shows that the system's cloud tops are warming, a sign the uplift that powers it is weakening and it is running out of steam. Warming clouds are colored blue in the false-color image.

The satellite also measured temperatures at the surface of the ocean, which had dropped below 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius). Sea surface temperatures of 80 F (27 C) are needed to maintain a tropical cyclone, according to a NASA statement.

As of this morning, Fabio packed maximum sustained winds of near 30 mph (48 kph) and was moving north about 9 mph (14 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center. The center expects the storm to fizzle into a remnant low pressure system tonight  (July 18).

Fabio began as a tropical depression on July 12 and rapidly strengthened into a tropical storm, becoming the sixth named storm of the 2012 season for the East Pacific basin. Named storms include tropical storms and hurricanes.

It then became a hurricane, following in the footsteps of Daniel and Emilia, the third and fourth hurricanes of the season. Five hurricanes have formed in the East Pacific so far this season.

The Atlantic basin, meanwhile, has been quiet recently. Four named storms have formed in the Atlantic this season, two of which spun up before the official June 1 start to the season. The Atlantic has seen only one hurricane so far.

The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season is forecasted to be a normal one, with 15 named storms (tropical storms and hurricanes), with between four to eight hurricanes. The busiest months of the hurricane season are typically August and September.

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