NASA's TRMM satellite provides time series of powerful Tropical Cyclone Ian

January 15, 2014 by Hal Pierce
These 4 TRMM satellite images from Jan. 10-12 show the strengthening and weakening of Cyclone Ian. Red indicates heavy rainfall. Credit: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce

NASA's TRMM satellite passed over Tropical Cyclone Ian three days in a row and captured rainfall and thunderstorm cloud height data about the deadly storm as it strengthened and weakened.

Tropical Cyclone Ian meandered in an area of the Pacific Ocean between Fiji and Tonga as it intensified from a tropical storm with winds of 35 knots/41 mph on January 5, 2014 to a deadly tropical cyclone with winds of 125 knots/144 mph on January 11, 2014. Tropical cyclone Ian caused extensive damage and an unknown number of deaths when it passed through Tonga at the peak of its intensity.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission or TRMM satellite provided excellent coverage of Ian with multiple passes directly above the tropical cyclone. Rainfall data collected by TRMM's Microwave Imager (TMI) and Precipitation Radar (PR) instruments with four passes. The first overpass on January 10, 2014 at 01:17 UTC showed Ian located between Fiji and Tonga when maximum sustained winds were estimated at 90 knots/104 mph. The second time TRMM passed over Ian was later in the day at 08:33 UTC/3:33 a.m. EST. Data from that overpass showed that Ian was much larger and better organized with a very well defined eye.

The next day, January 11, TRMM captured data on Ian when the tropical cyclone was passing close to the east of Tonga at 08:33 UTC/3:33 a.m. EST. Ian was then at its most dangerous category four intensity. TRMM data showed rain falling at the rate of over 169 mm/6.7 inches per hour around the nearly circular eye.

On January 12 at 01:05 UTC, TRMM showed a small area of heavy rainfall near Ian's center, with moderate to light rain throughout the rest of the system. By that time, Ian had moved to the southeast of Tonga.

The video will load shortly
TRMM's Precipitation Radar data was used to create this 3-D flyby animation Ian's well defined eye on January 11, 2014 at 0833 UTC/3:33 a.m. EST. Powerful thunderstorms in Ian's eye wall were found reaching heights of about 15 km/9.3 miles. Credit: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce

TRMM's Precipitation Radar (PR) instrument collected data used to create a 3-D flyby animation Ian's well defined eye on January 11, 2014 at 0833 UTC/3:33 a.m. EST. Powerful thunderstorms in Ian's eye wall were found reaching heights of about 15 km/9.3 miles.

Ian dissipated in the South Pacific Ocean by January 13, 2014.

Explore further: NASA adds up Tropical Cyclone Colin's rainfall rates

Related Stories

NASA adds up Tropical Cyclone Colin's rainfall rates

January 13, 2014

Tropical Cyclone Colin continued moving through the Southern Indian Ocean on January 13 while NASA's TRMM satellite passed overhead and calculated the rates in which rain was falling throughout the storm.

NASA sees Tropical Cyclone Colin coming 'unwound'

January 14, 2014

Tropical Cyclone Colin is not as tightly wrapped as it was a day ago. Satellite imagery from NASA's Aqua and TRMM satellites show Colin is not as organized as it was, and most of the strongest precipitation was occurring ...

Recommended for you

Unusual martian region leaves clues to planet's past

September 27, 2016

Researcher Don Hood from LSU and colleagues at collaborating universities studied an unusual region on Mars—an area with high elevation called Thaumasia Planum. They analyzed the geography and mineralogy of this area they ...

Thirsty megacities poisoning rural groundwater: study

September 27, 2016

A massive drawdown of water beneath delta-based megacities across the world may be pulling surface pollution deeper into the ground, risking contamination and health problems for local populations, a new study said Tuesday.

Ancient global cooling gave rise to modern ecosystems

September 27, 2016

Around 7 million years ago, landscapes and ecosystems across the world began changing dramatically. Subtropical regions dried out and the Sahara Desert formed in Africa. Rain forests receded and were replaced by the vast ...

Researchers refining Arctic climate history through diatoms

September 27, 2016

Just above the Arctic Circle, in remote southwestern Greenland, UMaine researchers are seeking to better understand the effects of a changing climate on arctic lakes by looking at one of their smallest inhabitants—Discostella ...

Over 90% of world breathing bad air: WHO

September 27, 2016

Nine out of 10 people globally are breathing poor quality air, the World Health Organization said Tuesday, calling for dramatic action against pollution that is blamed for more than six million deaths a year.

0 comments

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.