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T-minus three days: Here’s how the weather could impact the historic astronaut launch

Main concern lingering cloud cover from wet Monday, Tuesday

The more than nine year wait is almost over! Now that we will be launching humans from our Space Coast, it’s not just about the weather and ocean conditions here, but far away from home as well.

Possible conditions at Launch:

A tropical wave bringing the potential for heavy rain to Central Florida Monday and Tuesday should be on its way out by late Tuesday. The bulk of the moisture will be headed out to sea, but lingering showers and thick cloud cover could remain for launch time. This would violate a couple of rules for launch. NASA and SpaceX may have to thread the needle as more storms could develop in the afternoon. These storms would develop along a sea breeze and move away from the Cape.

Main concerns for launch: Rain, thick cloud cover.

The 45th weather Squadron gives the launch a 40% go as of Sunday morning. Surface and upper winds are expected to be favorable at this time.

The 45th Weather Squadron gives a 40% percent for go launch due to weather. Upper level winds will be light out of the southwest at 20-30mph. Surface winds will also be light.
The 45th Weather Squadron gives a 40% percent for go launch due to weather. Upper level winds will be light out of the southwest at 20-30mph. Surface winds will also be light.

The Atlantic gets a little choppy in the booster recovery zone due to that tropical wave, but it looks to start settling back down again Wednesday morning. The 45th Weather Squadron has downgraded booster recovery weather to moderate.

The Atlantic gets a little choppy in the booster recovery zone off of Cape Carnival Tuesday into Wednesday morning as a result of the tropical wave moving through Central Florida Monday. Wave heights are expected to settle back down to the 1-4" range by Wednesday afternoon.
The Atlantic gets a little choppy in the booster recovery zone off of Cape Carnival Tuesday into Wednesday morning as a result of the tropical wave moving through Central Florida Monday. Wave heights are expected to settle back down to the 1-4" range by Wednesday afternoon.

It will be a shame if Florida can’t hold up its own end of the bargain because the weather elsewhere is looking abnormally quiet. Relatively quiet conditions are needed up the Eastern Seaboard and over to Ireland for recovery of the Dragon capsule if the emergency abort system has to be activated.

An unseasonably strong area of high pressure looks to develop over much of the North Atlantic Monday. High pressure brings quiet weather to areas under its influence.

Mean Sea Level Pressure. Areas in blue indicate higher pressure. The brighter the blue, the higher the pressure. High pressure looks to dominate most of the North Atlantic for Wednesday's Launch.
Mean Sea Level Pressure. Areas in blue indicate higher pressure. The brighter the blue, the higher the pressure. High pressure looks to dominate most of the North Atlantic for Wednesday's Launch.

Computer forecasts show wave heights off the coast of Florida all the way to Halifax, Nova Scotia in the 1-3′ range. The biggest wave heights look to occur on the outer reaches of that high pressure system, just south of Iceland and west of Ireland. Wave heights in this area could be on the order of 4-5′.

Wave heights for the Atlantic Ocean
Wave heights for the Atlantic Ocean

There is still time for the weather at Cape Canaveral to improve. We need the tropical moisture wrap up by Wednesday morning and the thick clouds leave us by launch. The same high pressure center responsible for the quiet weather over much of the Atlantic could trap that tropical wave off of the Cape and not allow it to completely go out to sea. That is also something to watch.

The positives in the post-launch weather also need to continue to look relatively positive. Fingers crossed!


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