Tag Archives: Tropical Cyclones

Tropical Cyclone Stan: West Australian coast braces for destructive winds; red alert issued

NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite provided this visible look at Tropical Cyclone Stan at 6:15 UTC (1:15 a.m. EST) on Jan. 29 approaching northwestern Australia’s Pilbara Coast.
Credits: NASA/NOAA/Jeff Schmaltz:


West Australian residents in the north-west Pilbara region are bracing for potentially damaging wind gusts and heavy rain as Tropical Cyclone Stan makes landfall early on Sunday morning.

Residents between Bidyadanga and Whim Creek, which includes Port Hedland,Port Hedland, are specifically warned of the potential of a dangerous storm tide.”We could see some damaging waves and dangerous flooding in that area…”

Read Full Article, ABC Australia

NASA Sees Tropical Cyclone Stan Threaten Australia’s Pilbara Coast, NASA (01-28-2016)

Unusual North Atlantic Hurricane Alex

Alex is the first hurricane to form in the month of January since 1938. Image source: NHC / NOAA


According to the National Hurricane Center, Alex is the first hurricane to form in the month of January since 1938. Alex is also the first North Atlantic hurricane thriving in January since Alice of 1955, which formed on Dec. 30, 1954. Alice developed on December 30, 1954 from a trough of low pressure in the central Atlantic Ocean in an area of unusually favorable conditions.

The Azores Meteorological Service has issued a Hurricane Warning for the islands of Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Graciosa, and Terceira in the central Azores, and a Tropical Storm Warning for the islands of Sao Miguel and Santa Maria in the eastern Azores. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Graciosa, and Terceira in the central Azores and a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Sao Miguel and Santa Maria in the eastern Azores.

At 10 a.m. EST (1500 UTC), the National Hurricane Center said that the center of Hurricane Alex was located near latitude 31.5 North, longitude 28.4 West. Alex was moving toward the north-northeast near 20 mph (31 kph) and a turn toward the north with an increase in forward speed is expected over the next day or two. On the forecast track, the center of Alex will move near or over portions of the Azores Friday morning, Jan. 15.

Maximum sustained winds are near 85 mph (140 kph) with higher gusts. Little change in strength is forecast through Friday. The estimated minimum central pressure is 981 millibars.

NHC’s Forecaster Pasch said “Remarkably, Alex has undergone the transformation into a hurricane. A distinct eye is present, embedded within a fairly symmetric mass of deep convection. It is very unusual to have a hurricane over waters that are near 20 degrees Celsius, but the upper-tropospheric temperatures are estimated to be around -60 degrees Celsius, which is significantly colder than the tropical mean. The resulting instability is likely the main factor contributing to the tropical transition and intensification of Alex.”

Alex is expected to maintain hurricane status on Friday, Jan. 15 and transition into an extra-tropical storm by Jan. 16 as it continues to move north toward Greenland.

Read Full Article And View Videos, NASA

Hurricane Alex Forms in the Atlantic; Warnings Issued for Azores, Weather Channel
Hurricane Alex was located about 415 miles southwest of Faial Island in the central Azores as of 2 p.m. AST Thursday. The Azores are a group of Portuguese islands located 800 to 900 miles west of Portugal’s mainland…

Cyclone Ula tracks away from Vanuatu and towards NZ

NASA satellite imagery showed that Tropical Cyclone Ula’s eye appeared to be “closing” as clouds began filling it. Meanwhile New Caledonia remained on alert as the powerful storm continued moving away. Captions and Photo source: NASA


Ula is now a Category three cyclone as it moves in a south easterly direction, away from the Vanuatu group.

It reached Category Four level as it veered towards Vanuatu’s south at the weekend, raising fears for vulnerable islands in Tafea Province which were still recovering from the devastation of last year’s Cyclone Pam…

Read Full Article, Radio New Zealand News

NASA Sees Tropical Cyclone Ula’s Eye Closing, NASA (01-11-2016)
Despite Ula weakening Mare and Ile des Pins, New Caledonia remained under a Yellow Alert for high ocean swells on Jan. 11…

Thousands flee as powerful typhoon slams Philippines

NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite captured this image of Melor on Dec. 14 at 05:43 UTC (12:43 a.m. EST) as it was making landfall in eastern Visayas, Philippines. Photo source: NASA/NOAA/Jeff Schmaltz


About 725,000 people fled their homes and communities braced for heavy rain and coastal floods of up to 13 feet as Typhoon Melor slammed Monday into the eastern Philippines, officials said…

Read Full Article, USA Today

More than 700,000 evacuated as Typhoon Melor batters Philippines, CNN

Records Fall in 2015 Cyclone Season

January 1 – December, 2, 2015.

By Mike Carlowicz, NASA / Earth Observatory;

The 2015 hurricane season in the Atlantic, eastern Pacific, and central Pacific basins ended on November 30, according to the meteorological calendar. It was a year that brought many storms that defied usual expectations and destroyed parts of the record books.

The Atlantic was quieter than usual, the second year in a row with below-average storm activity. Meanwhile, hurricanes and cyclones in 2015 menaced regions that do not usually see them: the central Pacific Ocean and the Arabian Sea (northwest Indian Ocean). The entirety of the Pacific Ocean, from Asia to the Americas was teeming with El Niño-influenced storms.

Thirty major hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones occurred in the northern hemisphere in 2015; the previous record was 23 (set in 2004). Twenty-five of those storms reached category 4 or 5, well beyond the previous record of 18.

The maps above and below are based on data from Unisys Weather, which compiles information from the U.S. National Weather Service and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The maps show the tracks and intensity of all tropical cyclones in 2015; first globally, then in the eastern and western Pacific basins.

In the Atlantic, tropical storm Ana formed early in May off the southeastern coast of the United States, well before the June 1 start of hurricane season. But the months that followed were relatively quiet, with 11 named storms, four hurricanes—the second year in a row below the 1981-2010 median—and no major storms (category 3 and above) making landfall. Yet one storm, Fred, became the easternmost hurricane on record in the Atlantic, lashing the Cabo Verde islands in September. In November, hurricane Kate became one of the latest storms ever to hit The Bahamas.

January 1 – December 2, 2015

The waters of the eastern Pacific warmed significantly in 2015 with the arrival of a potent El Niño. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the region was stirred by 18 named storms and 13 hurricanes, nine of them major—the most since reliable records were started in 1971. Fueled by warm air and sea temperatures, Patricia grew rapidly into the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, with wind gusts approaching 200 miles (320 kilometers) per hour and air pressure at 879 millibars.

But as research meteorologist Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University noted, one of the biggest stories was the amount of activity in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. In the region above the equator from 140 to 180 degrees western latitude—the North Central Pacific—14 named storms and eight hurricanes formed or moved into the region. (The previous record for the region was four hurricanes in 1982.) Five of this year’s storms reached category 3 or above (major), eclipsing the previous record of three. At one point in August, three major hurricanes spun through the region east of the International Date Line at the same time, the first time any meteorologist has seen such activity.

“The 2015 season broke pretty much every prior record for that portion of the Northeast Pacific basin,” Klotzbach said. “That portion of the basin had record-warm sea surface temperatures and record-low vertical wind shear, a prime combination for hurricane intensification and maintenance.”

“El Niño produces a see-saw effect, suppressing the Atlantic season while strengthening the eastern and central Pacific hurricane seasons,” noted Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, in a press release. “El Niño intensified into a strong event during the summer and significantly impacted all three hurricane seasons during their peak months.” Vertical wind shear was particularly strong in the Atlantic, cutting down storm systems before they could organize. In the Pacific, the wind shear was the weakest on record, leaving nothing to stop the evolution of hurricanes and typhoons.

January 1 – December 2, 2015

In the western Pacific, near Asia and the islands of Oceania, the season was noteworthy not for the total number of storms, but for the number of intense ones. Fifteen typhoons grew to category 3 strength or higher in 2015, tying records set in 1958 and 1965. El Niño plays a different role in the western Pacific because slight decreases in water temperatures and wind fields push storm formation farther to the east, Klotzbach explained. This allows the storms more time to intensify as they move from east to west with prevailing winds.

Near the end of the tropical storm season, two cyclones stirred up the waters of the Arabian Sea. The region is normally so dry and windy that storms cannot reach shore. Yet both a hurricane and a tropical storm made landfall in Yemen and nearby Socotra Island within a week in November.

Here are some other records and statistics from 2015, as compiled by Klotzbach:

– The three-year total (2013–15) of 12 hurricanes in the Atlantic basin is the lowest since 1992–94.

– No major hurricane has made landfall in the United States since Wilma in 2005. “The U.S. has never had a – ten-year period without a major hurricane landfall, eclipsing the previous record of eight years set from 1861–1868.”

– The Northeast Pacific (to 180° West) had its second highest value of Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) on record (288 this year; 292 in 1992).

– Record-high sea surface temperatures and record-low wind shear were recorded when averaged from July to October in the North Central Pacific.

Original Article, NASA / Earth Observatory

Yemen Braces for Another Cyclone

Cyclone Megh, November 9, 2015. NASA imagery by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response

By Mike Carlowicz, with interpretation from Bill Patzert (NASA JPL), Scott Braun (NASA GSFC), and Amato Evan (UCSD); NASA;

For the second time in a week, a major cyclone moved toward the Arabian Peninsula and the nation of Yemen. To have a cyclone or hurricane hit any nation twice in a week is not a common occurrence; to have two storms to hit one region of the Middle East is unprecedented. Only three cyclones have made landfall on the Peninsula across six decades of records.

Cyclone Megh has already battered Socotra, an island off the Yemeni coast in the Arabian Sea. The storm passed over the island on November 8, 2015, with estimated wind speeds approaching 125 miles per hour. U.S. Navy forecasters predict that Megh will make landfall near Aden, on the mainland of Yemen, on November 10. The winds are likely to be tropical storm force by then, though the system should drop copious amounts of rain on the desert nation. Rainfall last week led to extensive flooding in central and eastern Yemen.

“While it’s common to have a tropical cyclone spin up in the Arabian Sea during the post-monsoon season (fall), in the historical record we’ve never seen two tropical cyclones spin up, especially one after the other, during this time of year,” wrote Amato Evan, an atmospheric scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “Perhaps more astounding is that of all of the historical storms that did form during this time of year, none were major tropical cyclones (intensities greater than category 1).”

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite acquired this view of Cyclone Megh in the narrow Gulf of Aden at 2:05 p.m. local time (10:05 Universal Time) on November 9, 2015. At the time, the cyclone had sustained winds of approximately 75 knots (85 miles or 140 kilometers per hour).

According to several sources, water temperatures in the Arabian Sea and northwestern Indian Ocean were significantly above normal, approaching record highs, when Cyclone Chapala blew through the region in the first week of November 2015. One week later, the waters were somewhat cooler because Chapala had stirred up the sea surface and left a wake of upwelled water. The combination of cooler water and the dry winds from the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula should sap much of Megh’s strength, though not necessarily its precipitation.

Evan noted that the development of Chapala and Megh were likely aided by a lack of wind shear, which typically disrupts tropical storm formation. In a 2011 paper, Evan and colleagues argued that increasing air pollution—particularly a six-fold increase in aerosols—over the northern Indian Ocean has likely reduced vertical wind shear in the region, a phenomenon that could affect monsoon weather patterns and perhaps allow more cyclones to form in the region.

Original Article, NASA / Earth Observatory

Second Deadly Cyclone in a Week Targets Yemen, USA Today (11-08-2015)
Back-to-back cyclones affecting Socotra Island within a week’s time is unprecedented in the historical record…

Second Deadly Cyclone in a Week Targets Yemen

Yemen’s Socotra Island just endured Cyclone Chapala and just a week later is facing a second. Captions and Photo source: NASA


The second cyclone in a week slammed into an island off Yemen’s coast Sunday with 127-mph winds, the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane.

Back-to-back cyclones affecting Socotra Island within a week’s time is unprecedented in the historical record…

Read Full Article, USA Today

Chapala to Make Landfall in Yemen as First Hurricane-Strength Cyclone on Record, The Washington Post (11-02-2015)

Chapala to Make Landfall in Yemen as First Hurricane-Strength Cyclone on Record

At 12:40 p.m. local time (09:40 Universal Time) on November 2, 2015, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image of category 3 Cyclone Chapala over the Gulf of Aden. Captions and Photo source: NASA Earth Observatory


Honing in on the southern Arabian Peninsula, Chapala is packing winds of 120 mph, with gusts up to 150 mph. Wave heights around the storm are 30 feet. Chapala’s winds will certainly be strong as it washes ashore, but its rainfall will be the most life-threatening impact for coastal Yemen…

Read Full Article, The Washington Post

Yemen island hit as Cyclone Chapala heads for mainland, BBC News
A rare tropical cyclone has hit the remote Yemeni island of Socotra, before heading towards the Yemeni mainland. It is believed to be the most powerful storm that Yemen has seen in decades. The UN’s World Meteorological Organisation described the cyclone as “extremely severe”, and said that sea conditions around the centre of the storm were “phenomenal”…

Rare Cyclone Heads for Arabia, NASA Earth Observatory (10-31-2015)

Socotra: The Isle of The Dragonsblood, The New York Times (02-14-2012)

Rare Cyclone Heads for Arabia

NASA imagery by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response using Suomi NPP and MODIS data.

By Michael Carlowicz, NASA Earth Observatory;

Citizens of the arid Arabian Peninsula were bracing for strong winds, a storm surge, and extreme rainfall as Cyclone Chapala (04A) was forecast to make landfall in early November 2015. Only two tropical cyclones have hit the Peninsula since reliable records started in 1979, and Chapala has the potential to be the strongest of them all. Weather forecasters were calling for several years’s worth of rain to fall on Yemen and Oman over the course of just two or three days.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this natural-color image of Chapala in the Arabian Sea at 1:10 p.m. local time (09:10 Universal Time) on October 30, 2015. At the time, the tropical cyclone had sustained winds between 130 and 135 knots (150-155 miles or 240-250 kilometers per hour) and significant wave heights of 38 feet. The potent storm was moving westward across the Arabian Sea. The image below, acquired by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi NPP, shows the storm at 12:30 p.m. local time (08:30 UTC) on October 29, 2015.


Chapala started as a tropical depression off of India on October 28. Much like Hurricane Patricia off of Mexico, the storm intensified rapidly, with wind speeds accelerating from 65 to 155 miles (105 to 250 kilometers) per hour in a day. Meteorologist and blogger Eric Holthaus noted that the storm may have been fueled by record warm water temperatures in the Arabian Sea and northern Indian Ocean. Other scientific sources show that global temperatures this year are on track to be the warmest on record as El Niño conditions have added to overall, long-term climate warming.

Forecasts suggest Chapala will reach super cyclone category 5 status on October 31, but then weaken as it moves north and meets the extremely dry air of the Arabian Peninsula. It has the potential to make landfall in Yemen and Oman as a category 1 cyclone. But whether or not it sustains its winds, the storm should drop substantial rainfall over the parched region. Forecasters from the UK Met Office noted that the storm could produce up to 20 inches (500 millimeters) of rainfall in some places—four to five times the yearly average for the region. The storm is also having an impact on the busy shipping routes to the Indian Ocean through the Gulf of Aden.

Original Article, NASA / Earth Observatory

Cyclone Chapala in the Arabian Sea Likely to Be Rare, Destructive Landfall in Yemen, Weather News
Cyclone Chapala became the strongest tropical system so far south in the Arabian Sea on record and may make an extremely rare landfall at hurricane strength along the coast of Yemen Monday or Tuesday.