The cold power of Hurricane Gilma revealed by NASA satellite

Aug 09, 2012
NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Hurricane Gilma on Aug. 9 at 5:53 a.m. EDT. The AIRS instrument captured an infrared image of the cloud temperatures that showed the strongest storms (purple) and heaviest rainfall was wrapped around the storm's center. Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen

High, cold cloud tops with bitter cold temperatures are indicators that there's a lot of strength in the uplift of air within a tropical cyclone. NASA's Aqua satellite passed by Hurricane Gilma and saw a concentrated area of very cold cloud tops.

NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Hurricane Gilma on August 9 at 5:53 a.m. EDT. The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument captured an of the cloud temperatures that showed the strongest storms and heaviest rainfall were wrapped around the storm's center. Cloud top temperatures in that area were as cold as -63 Fahrenheit (-52 Celsius), indicating very strong thunderstorms (a tropical cyclone is made up of hundreds of thunderstorms), with potentially heavy rainfall. The higher a cloud top extends into the atmosphere, the colder it is, and that data is picked up by the AIRS instrument onboard the Aqua satellite.

On August 9, 2012 at 11 a.m. EDT (8 a.m. PDT) Gilma's are near 75 mph (120 kmh), down from 80 mph (130 kmh) which makes Gilma a category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson . Gilma was far from land and its center was about 715 miles (1,155 km) southwest of the southern tip of Baja California, near latitude 16.2 north and longitude 118.6 west. Gilma is moving toward the west-northwest near 7 mph (11 kmh). Forecasters expect Gilma to turn to the northwest because a ridge of high pressure that has been guiding it is now weakening.

The National Hurricane Center expects Gilma to start weakening over the next day as it moves into an area of cooler waters. AIRS also provides on , and has observed declining temperatures north of Gilma's current location in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Waters of 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 Celsius) are needed to maintain a tropical cyclone, and Gilma is headed for waters cooler than that over the next couple of days.

Watching Two Other Areas

at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) are now watching two additional areas of low pressure to the east of Gilma. The first area is several hundred miles south-southwest of Acapulco, Mexico. The NHC gives this low a meager 10 percent chance of development in the next two days because it appeared more disorganized today on satellite imagery. The second area is a trough (elongated area) of low pressure along Mexico's west coast. That low may interact with Tropical Storm Ernesto which is poised to cross from the Gulf of Mexico into the Pacific. However, because of upper level winds, this low pressure area also has a 10 percent chance of development in the next two days.

Explore further: Scientists may be cracking mystery of big 1872 earthquake

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA gets a cold stare from Emilia's eye

Jul 10, 2012

NASA's Aqua satellite got a cold stare from Emilia. Infrared satellite data revealed that cloud top temperatures around Hurricane Emilia's eye were bitter cold.

Frigid cloud top temperatures show Hurricane Dora's power

Jul 20, 2011

Extremely cold cloud top temperatures in thunderstorms are an indication of the strength they possess, and infrared satellite data from NASA revealed a large area of very cold and powerful thunderstorms around ...

NASA sees Emilia as a Category 2 hurricane now

Jul 11, 2012

Hurricane Emilia reached peak intensity yesterday, July 10, when its maximum sustained winds hit 140 mph (220 kmh). Today, July 11, Emilia has weakened to a Category 2 hurricane. NASA's Aqua satellite passed ...

Recommended for you

Volcano in south Japan erupts, disrupting flights

56 minutes ago

A volcano in southern Japan is blasting out chunks of magma in the first such eruption in 22 years, causing flight cancellations and prompting warnings to stay away from its crater.

Questions of continental crust

20 hours ago

Geological processes shape the planet Earth and are in many ways essential to our planet's habitability for life. One important geological process is plate tectonics – the drifting, colliding and general ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.