Tropical Cyclones

Overview

Tropical cyclones develop primarily in the summer months in regions with very warm sea surface temperatures, high low-level humidity and resulting instability that favors the development of thunderstorms, low amounts of vertical wind shear, and within the lower latitudes where these environments combine with a Coriolis force sufficient for establishing a surface area of lower pressure.  As they build in intensity, tropical waves and disturbances progress through categories of tropical depressions and named tropical storms, then to hurricanes and major hurricanes, the latter defined as a category three or higher on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale.  Tropical cyclones are readily observed in satellite imagery as organized clusters of thunderstorms in the lower tropical latitudes, and are much better known for the distinct, cloud-free eye common to major hurricanes as they move across the open oceans.  These cyclones bring large areas of damaging winds in addition to other threats from prolonged heavy rains and coastal inundation as a result of high storm surge, often requiring large evacuation zones when they threaten to impact populated areas, including the islands of the Pacific, southeastern Asia, and the Gulf Coast or eastern seaboard of the United States.

Tropical cyclones are frequently observed by NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission where their structure is made apparent through use of passive microwave brightness temperatures at various frequencies and polarizations.  In addition, their intense rainfall rates are readily mapped by the Integrated Multi-Satellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) product, and additional views of their three-dimensional structure made available through active radar scanning by the GPM core satellite.  Mapping of offshore heavy rain rates can provide responders with an expectation of what will occur after landfall, and improved identification of the storm’s center can aid tracking of the system and improved initialization with numerical weather prediction models.  Inland, rainfall estimates can be combined with streamflow and inundation models to understand flood risks resulting from the storm, and combined with topographical models and other information to characterize landslide threats.  Following landfall, flooding can be mapped using optical remote sensing from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments aboard the Terra and Aqua missions, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) aboard the NASA/NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (S-NPP) mission, or from the higher resolution views of the USGS/NASA Landsat-7 and Landsat-8 missions.  VIIRS also provides a unique opportunity to map power outages from space, which occur frequently as a result of landfalling tropical cyclones, and help to monitor the recovery of power in the days and weeks that follow.  Should post-storm cloudiness obscure a view of the land surface, synthetic aperture radar measurements of water extent from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1A and 1B platforms can assist with active scanning of inland surge and flood waters.  Finally, widespread damage to vegetation and treefall can be mapped over time from the aforementioned platforms, with ecosystem recovery monitored in the years that follow through consistent and continued imaging of the affected area

Latest Updates

October 11, 2018
GFMS Inundation Estimate Hurricane Michael
Inundation Estimate from Global Flood Monitoring System (GFMS) based on surface and river routing models using NASA Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Integrated Multi-Satellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) precipitation information. GFMS covers the globe from 50N-50S. This product shows the near real time flooding every 3 hours at 1 km resolution. This product can be used to estimate flood extent (and depth) and for comparison with other estimates from...
October 11, 2018
Sentinel-1 Water Extent Imagery
Using data collected from the European Space Agency's (ESA) Sentinel-1B satellite, scientists at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) are able to create maps of the extent of water due to the effects of Hurricane Michael. The synthetic aperture radar (SAR) aboard Sentinel-1B allows for the detection of water on the surface when clouds are present as well as during the night time hours. This product shows three areas: known reference water (blue), anomalous...
October 11, 2018
USGS/NASA Landsat 8 Imagery Hurricane Michael
The True Color RGB composite provides a product of how the surface would look to the naked eye from space. The RGB is created using the red, green, and blue channels of the respective instrument. This product contains pre-event images from September 15, 22, 24, 29 and October 6, 2018. The True Color RGB is produced using the 3 visible wavelength bands (red, green, and blue) from the respective sensor. Some minor atmospheric corrections have occurred. Image...
October 11, 2018
Sentinel-1 RGB Imagery from Hurricane Michael
The Alaska Satellite Facility has developed a false color Red, Green, Blue (RGB) composite image of the Sentinel 1A/B Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instrument which assigns the co- and cross-polarization information to a channel in the RGB composite. When used to support a flooding event, areas in blue denotes water present at the time of the satellite overpass prior to the landfall of Hurricane Michael. This product shows three areas: known reference water (...
October 8, 2018
GPM overpass of hurricane michael on 10/8/18
The GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) has 13 channels that view different aspects of the hurricane in different ways. This overpass of Hurricane Michael on Oct. 8th, 2018 shows the combined low, mid, and high-frequency GMI channels along with the retrieved rain rate for the same overpass developed by combining all channels to understand the precipitation structure.
September 26, 2018
Landsat 8 OLI image prior to flooding on 7/14/17.  Landsat 8 OLI image after flooding from Hurricane Florence, acquired 9/19/18. USGS's Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite has captured optical imagery of devastating flooding in the Carolinas from Hurricane Florence. NASA scientiets are using this imagery to help state and local agencies be better...
September 26, 2018
Landsat 8 colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) imagery acquired 9/19/18.
Landsat 8 colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) imagery acquired 9/19/18. USGS's Landsat 8 satellite has captured colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) imagery after Hurricane Florence’s destruction. NASA scientists use this imagery to help inform state and local agencies on water quality post-Hurricane Florence. The image reveals how soils, sediments, decaying leaves, pollution, and other debris have discolored the waters in the swollen rivers, bays, estuaries...
September 15, 2018
CYGNSS Ocean Windspeed data from Hurricane Florence acquired 9/14/18.
UPDATE 9/27/18: CYGNSS Ocean Windspeed data from Hurricane Florence acquired 9/14/18. CYGNSS Ocean Windspeed data from Hurricane Florence is available to view on the University of Miama Rosentiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science website: http://andrew.rsmas.miami.edu/bmcnoldy/cygnss/?d=20180914 UPDATE 9/17/18:...
September 14, 2018
Polarimetric image of Croatan National Forest, NC acquired by a UAVSAR overflight on Sep 23, 2018 . 
Collection of UAVSAR imagery will help to clarify where barrier islands and the coastline have been impacted. Furthermore, rapid acquisition of UAVSAR imagery of damaged homes and infrastructure provides higher spatial resolution details to complement “damage proxy maps” and other change detection approaches applied from routinely collected imagery or special collections from international partners.  NOAA and other agencies will fly complementary aerial photography to help document change for correlation to signals obtained at the wavelengths of UAVSAR (L-Band, polarized) and other...
September 24, 2018
This image was taken by TEMPEST-D (Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems Demonstration) as it flew over Hurricane Florence on Sept. 11, 2018. The colors reveal the eye of the storm, surrounded by towering, intense rain bands. The green areas
This image was taken by TEMPEST-D (Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems Demonstration) as it flew over Hurricane Florence on Sept. 11, 2018. The colors reveal the eye of the storm, surrounded by towering, intense rain bands. The green areas highlight the extent of the rain being produced by the storm, with the most intense rain shown in the yellow and red areas. The black and white image underneath is a visual image of the storm's clouds, taken by NOAA's GOES (Geoweather...
September 14, 2018
NASA SPoRT Sea Surface Temperatures from 9/13/18 at 6:00 UTC
UPDATE 9/21/18: SPoRT Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) composite image from 9/20/18. View the latest SPoRT SST image: https://weather.msfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/sportPublishData.pl?dataset=sst   UPDATE 9/14/18: NASA SPoRT Sea Surface Temperatures from 9/13/18 at 6:00 UTC...
September 15, 2018
VIIRS Black Marble nighttime data showing pre and post event imagery from Wilmington NC.
UPDATE 9/21/18: Suomi-NPP VIIRS Black Marble nighttime data showing pre and post event imagery from Wilmington NC. Suomi-NPP VIIRS Black Marble nighttime data showing pre and post event imagery from Jacksonville NC. The NASA Black Marble product suite has been used to assess disruptions in energy infrastructure and utility services following major disasters...
September 20, 2018
Screenshot of the CAMP2Ex web portal interface.
Screenshot of the CAMP2Ex web portal interface. The CAMP2Ex portal (https://camp2ex.jpl.nasa.gov) was developed to support the upcoming NASA’s  CLOUD AND AEROSOL MONSOONAL PROCESSES - PHILIPPINES EXPERIMENT (CAMP2Ex). The portal monitors hurricanes and tropical convection in the West Pacific and the Indian ocean basins.  It provides interactive visualization, data integration and on-line analysis tools. The portal: i) integrates model forecasts...
September 20, 2018
Screenshot from the North Atlantic Hurricane Watch web portal.
Screenshot from the North Atlantic Hurricane Watch web portal. The North Atlantic Hurricane Watch (NAHW – https://nahw.jpl.nasa.gov ) portal monitors hurricanes and tropical convection in the North Atlantic and East Pacific ocean basins.  It provides interactive visualization, data integration and on-line analysis tools. The portal: i) integrates model forecasts with satellite and airborne observations from a variety of instruments and...
September 18, 2018
This MODIS flood detection map from 9/19/18 shows the 1-day flood product (in red), on top of the 1-day surface water product (in yellow) in Google Earth.
UPDATE 9/19/18: This MODIS flood detection map from 9/19/18 shows the 1-day flood product (in red), on top of the 1-day surface water product (in yellow) in Google Earth. The MODIS Near Real-Time Global Flood Mapping Project produces global daily surface and flood water maps at approximately 250 m resolution, in 10x10 degree tiles. This project was developed in collaboration with Bob Brakenridge at the Dartmouth Flood Observatory (DFO):...
September 14, 2018
Figure 1.  Weekly total rainfall (inches), valid 11-18 September 2018, from the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) product.  Four counties are denoted, for which soil moisture histogram animations are shown later in thi
  UPDATE 9/18/18: Soil moisture transformation from dry (brown/orange) to near saturation (purple/blue) over North Carolina associated with flooding rainfall from Hurricane #Florence (SPoRT-LIS product incorporating #MRMS precipitation). @NASA_LIS pic.twitter.com/SRgPnz5nL6 — NASA SPoRT (@NASA_SPoRT)...
September 18, 2018
GPM IMERG rainfall accumulations from Typhoon Mangkhut.
Video of 7-Day Animation of Mangkhut Affecting the Philippines In the past week, Typhoon Mangkhut has affected the Philippines, mainland China, and Hong Kong, as shown in this 7-day animation of NASA's satellite-based IMERG precipitation product. The upper frame shows the storm-total accumulation starting at 0100 UTC on September 11, 2018. Storm-total accumulations in excess of 4 inches stretched from Manila to the northern tip of Luzon Island where the rainfall triggered deadly landslides. The lower frame shows the short-term accumulation in a 3-hour period that slides from the...
September 19, 2018
AMSR-2 rainfall data from Typhoon Mangkhut acquired 9/14/18.
AMSR-2 rainfall data from Typhoon Mangkhut acquired 9/14/18. On September 14, 2018 NASA LANCE Near Real-Time AMSR2 product captured the intense rainfall of Typhoon Mangkhut approached Philippines, which is the 2018’s strongest storm so far.  NASA LANCE Near Real-Time (NRT) AMSR2 products include surface precipitation rate, wind speed over ocean, water vapor over ocean and cloud liquid water over ocean. AMSR2 on JAXA's GCOM-W1 spacecraft launched on May 18, 2012. The NRT AMSR2 products...
September 15, 2018
VIIRS cloud mask product.
UPDATE 9/19/18: Suomi-NPP VIIRS cloud mask product. Click here to view the animated VIIRS cloud mask product. It is the new...
September 18, 2018
ARIA damage proxy map derived from images taken before (September 02, 2016) and 12 hours after the hurricane's landfall (September 14, 2018 7:06 PM local time).
UPDATE 9/18/18:ARIA damage proxy map derived from images taken before (September 02, 2016) and 12 hours after the hurricane's landfall (September 14, 2018 7:06 PM local time). The ARIA team has created a flood extent map from Sentinel-1 SAR data acquired from Track 4, 12 hours after the landfall of Hurricane Florence. The map was pushed to the FEMA's SFTP server and is available to download from  ...

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