NASA Examines Super Typhoon Hagibis, Warnings in Guam, Micronesia

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 7, 2019
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NASA Examines Super Typhoon Hagibis, Warnings in Guam, Micronesia
On Oct 6 at 3:53 p.m. EDT (1553 UTC) NASA's Aqua satellite analyzed Hagibis when it was a tropical storm using the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder or AIRS instrument. AIRS found coldest cloud top temperatures as cold as or colder than (purple) minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 53 degrees Celsius) around the center and in a thick band of thunderstorms east and west of center. Credit: NASA JPL/Heidar Thrastarson

Super typhoon Hagibis formed quickly over the weekend of Oct. 5 and 6.
NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over the storm after it achieved super typhoon status on Oct. 6 found extremely cold cloud top temperatures, indicating very powerful storms with heavy rainfall potential. Warnings are in effect in Guam and throughout the Federated States of Micronesia on Oct. 7.

One of the ways NASA researches tropical cyclones is using infrared data that provides temperature information. The AIRS instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a look at those temperatures in Super Typhoon Hagibis and gave insight into the storm’s rainfall potential near Guam.

Cloud top temperatures provide information to forecasters about where the strongest storms are located within a tropical cyclone. Tropical cyclones do not always have uniform strength, and some sides have stronger sides than others. The stronger the storms, the higher they extend into the troposphere, and they have the colder cloud temperatures. NASA provides data to forecasters at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center or NHC so they can incorporate in their forecasting. Those data went into the forecasts from the National Weather Service office in Tiyan, Guam on Oct. 7.

Oct. 6 at 3:53 p.m. EDT (1553 UTC) NASA’s Aqua satellite analyzed the storm using the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder or AIRS instrument when Hagibis was a tropical storm and strengthening quickly. When Aqua passed overhead, Hagibis had maximum sustained winds near 50 knots (57 mph/93 kph).

AIRS found coldest cloud top temperatures as cold as or colder than minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 53 degrees Celsius) around Super Typhoon Hagibis’ center and in thick bands of thunderstorms west and east of center. Those cloud top temperatures continued to drop as Hagibis strengthened from a tropical storm into a typhoon.

NASA research has shown that cloud top temperatures that cold indicate strong storms that have the capability to create heavy rain.

Hagibis reached super typhoon status on Oct. 7 by 5 a.m. EDT (0900 UTC). After that time, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard Suomi NPP provided a visible image of Super typhoon Hagibis. It showed a well-defined eye covered by high clouds, surrounded by powerful thunderstorms. A thick, powerful band of thunderstorms was wrapping into the low-level center from the southwest, and a large band of thunderstorms stretched around the eastern quadrant and extended far south of the storm. The storm was affecting both Guam and the Federated States of Micronesia.

A Typhoon Warning remains in effect for Saipan, Tinian, Alamagan and Pagan Islands in the CNMI. Typhoon conditions, including destructive winds of 74 mph or more, will continue through Tuesday morning. A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for Guam, Rota and Agrihan Islands. Tropical storm conditions, including damaging winds of 39 to 73 mph, are expected through Tuesday morning. A Flash Flood Warning is in effect for Rota, Tinian and Saipan.

At 8 a.m. EDT (1200 UTC), the NWS of Guam noted the center of Super typhoon Hagibis was located by satellite near Latitude 16.1 degrees North and Longitude 146.7 degrees East. That is about 70 miles east-southeast of Anatahan and about 95 miles northeast of Saipan.

Hagibis is moving west-northwest at 15 mph and is expected to maintain this general course and speed through Tuesday. Hagibis is expected to pass over Anatahan later tonight. Maximum sustained winds remain at 150 mph. Hagibis is forecast to intensify further through Tuesday, possibly reaching peak intensity Tuesday evening, Oct. 8.

The AIRS instrument is one of six instruments flying on board NASA’s Aqua satellite, launched on May 4, 2002.

Hurricanes are the most powerful weather event on Earth. NASA’s expertise in space and scientific exploration contributes to essential services provided to the American people by other federal agencies, such as hurricane weather forecasting.

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