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

Jan 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.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
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

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA adds up Tropical Cyclone Colin's rainfall rates

Jan 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'

Jan 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 ...

Recommended for you

Image: Grand Canyon geology lessons on view

2 hours ago

The Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is a favorite for astronauts shooting photos from the International Space Station, as well as one of the best-known tourist attractions in the world. The steep walls of ...

First radar vision for Copernicus

3 hours ago

Launched on 3 April, ESA's Sentinel-1A satellite has already delivered its first radar images of Earth. They offer a tantalising glimpse of the kind of operational imagery that this new mission will provide ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

First radar vision for Copernicus

Launched on 3 April, ESA's Sentinel-1A satellite has already delivered its first radar images of Earth. They offer a tantalising glimpse of the kind of operational imagery that this new mission will provide ...

Image: Grand Canyon geology lessons on view

The Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is a favorite for astronauts shooting photos from the International Space Station, as well as one of the best-known tourist attractions in the world. The steep walls of ...

Book offers simplified guide to shale gas extraction

The new book, "Science Beneath the Surface: A Very Short Guide to the Marcellus Shale," attempts to offer a reader-friendly, unbiased, scientific guide needed to make well-informed decisions regarding energy ...

Net neutrality balancing act

Researchers in Italy, writing in the International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management have demonstrated that net neutrality benefits content creator and consumers without compromising provider innovation nor pr ...