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Satellites See Ernesto Become Tropical Storm Hector

Rainfall from the depression that became Tropical Storm Hector
This image of Hector used data collected by TRMM on Saturday August 11, 2012 at 1451 UTC (10:51 AM EDT) before the tropical depression was upgraded to Tropical Storm Hector. (Image credit: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce )

After deluging southern Mexico and parts of Central America, the remnants of the Atlantic basin's Tropical Storm Ernesto moved westward into the Pacific Ocean and then re-strengthened to become Tropical Storm Hector over the weekend. NASA's TRMM satellite caught the transformation.

Tropical storm Ernesto had moved inland over Mexico when the TRMM satellite passed above it on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, at 11:06 a.m. EDT (1506 UTC). Analysis of the storm's rainfall from TRMM's instruments showed that Ernesto contained bands of moderate to heavy rainfall that were affecting areas of Mexico from the southern Gulf Of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean coast, according to a NASA statement. The heaviest rainfall of more than 2 inches (over 60mm) per hour was measured in the Gulf of Tehauntepec off Mexico's Pacific Coast.

By the following day, Ernesto had dissipated into tropical depression. (Cyclones typically weaken over land because they are cut off from the warm ocean water that fuels them and because terrain can interfere with the structure of the storm.)

TRMM again passed over this remnant depression on Aug. 11 at 10:51 a.m. EDT (1451 UTC) about 12 hours before it became Tropical Storm Hector, the eighth named storm of the season for the East Pacific basin. (Storms are named when they reach tropical storm status.)

Hector currently has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph) and is moving slowly westward in the Pacific. The storm isn't expected to threaten land.

The atmospheric conditions that Hector is moving through will likely cause it to weaken into a tropical depression by tomorrow night (Aug. 15) or Thursday, according to the most recent update from the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

The East Pacific hurricane season has been slightly busier than the Atlantic one so far, though the peak of the Atlantic season is about to set in and forecasters are keeping an eye on storm systems that have the potential to develop into cyclones there. The East Pacific has seen four hurricanes and eight named storms, while the Atlantic has seen only two hurricanes and six named storms.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently updated their forecast for the Atlantic season, upping the number of storms expected.

Live Science Staff
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