Inside Super Typhoon Utor

john's picture


As Super Typhoon Utor approached the Philippines on August 12, an interesting coincidence of NASA satellites was forming.  The storm itself was a monster -- category 3 by the time it made landfall over the islands. 

At that time, NASA's Aqua satellite, with its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) was flying overhead, closely followed the Cloudsat, another NASA satellite. 

Cloudsat uses an imaging radar much like the Doppler radar used by the national weather service, but far more sensitive. 

Minutes after MODIS acquired the image at top right, Cloudsat made its passage directly over the eye of the typhoon. 

The satellite orbital ground track is shown by the red line in the image at left.

As is well known, typhoons and hurricanes are giant heat engines, that extract heat from the warm oceans, and transfer it to the rising column of air within the storm. 

As the air rises towards the stratosphere, the air expands, cools, and moisture condenses in the form of clouds. 

The clouds and the air begin to swirl in concentric circles around the middle of the storm, the eyewall. 

The swirling air currents actually arise as a result of a balance between the lower pressure in the center of the storm at the eye, and the Coriolis force from the earth's rotation.

Convective motions in the storm can be quite violent, with thunderstorm and lightning activity common. 

The lower part of the above image is the result of processing of the Cloudsat data by NASA scientists.  It shows these convective motions of the moist air during the typhoon's passage over the Philippines.

Sadly, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN/OCHA) reports that significant flooding occurred in the Philippines and in Guangdong province, China from Utor, which struck central Luzon province on August 12 as a Category 3 storm.

Over 12,000 homes damaged in the Philippines and 8 persons were killed. In China, over 500,000 persons were relocated and 20 killed as Utor made its way towards the interior of China. 

The map at right shows the areas of southern China that were struck by significant flooding.



[1] NASA



HarryWilliams's picture

These satellite images are showing how bad that typhoon which effected Philippines recently. I came to know from aussiewriter review blog articles about this typhoon and the devastation it has done to that country. I felt really bad for the people of that country who have suffered very badly with that typhoon hit.

Risk Alert