Tropical Storm Andrea clouds up the ocean

False-color image from NOAA-18 at 4:36pm on June 7, 2013

This week, was the start of the 2013 Hurricane Season, and already forecasters have declared the first storm of the season. So with one week down, I’d say we’re on track to meet NOAA’s prediction of an active to extremely active season.

Tropical Storm Andrea started as a small storm system in the in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this week, and by Wednesday evening she had grown (barely) into a low level Tropical storm. Tropical Storm Andrea then made landfall in the Big Bend region of Florida, causing some minor coastal flooding and wind damage in the Tampa area, before heading up the eastern seaboard. For the most part, Andrea was primarily a major rain event, dampening the spirits of many who are anxious for summer to finally arrive.

Large storm systems are also a nuisance to satellite oceanographers, who generally need a clear view of the ocean to measure physical variables like sea surface temperature, or the amount of chlorophyll and sediment in the water.

The image above was generated using data collected by the AVHRR instrument on NOAA-18 as it flew over the area at 4:36pm. AVHRR does not collect data in the visible light range, so this false-color representation was created by converting data from the red and infrared channels on the satellite into an image resembling a true-color photo.

What is clear from this image, is that the sky is not so clear over the ocean. In fact, the only clear areas over water are off the coast of South Carolina and over the Great Lakes, which show up as dark blue. To an oceanographer then, this image doesn’t offer much to look at, but for a meteorologist, it’s a different story.

For more on the aftermath of Tropical Storm Andrea’s deluge, I encourage you to check out the New Jersey CoCoRaHS site tomorrow to see how much rain fell on the state.