Tag Archives: southern hemisphere

Early Summer 2014: A panoramic view of Earth!

Early Summer 2014 on Earth’s northern hemisphere. Wherever you look  there are flashes of storms, extreme rain, flash floods and other disturbed weather events everywhere. It seems Mother Nature is experimenting with everything there is in  the atmosphere, including gigantic twin tornadoes striking simultaneously in the Heartland USA!

Let us take a look at what our satellites are seeing from above. The three images that follow are mosaics of satellite observations made earlier this Tuesday, 24 June 2014, with water-vapor filters, which  help highlight areas of storms and  disturbed weather.

Water-vapor fileter satelite view of Earth's western hemisphere on Tuesday 24 June 2014
Water-vapor filter satellite view of Earth’s western hemisphere on Tuesday 24 June 2014

The view above shows large storms over Texas and the Great Plains USA, a large area of storms extending from Northern South America over Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. There is also a large cell off the coast of Central America and Mexico over the eastern east Pacific Ocean. And ‘Hurricane Alley’ shows a slim train of storm cells riding along on their westward journey. However, Equatorial Africa, which is the feeder for Hurricane Alley appears quiet and devoid of any major systems, but farther to the east over the Indian Ocean there are some major cells of tropical activity that may eventually find their way over Equatorial Africa to activate the ‘tropical wave assembly line’ in coming days.

Mosaic of satellite images highlighting water-vapor in the atmosphere on Tuesday 24 June 2014, over the Pacific  basin above the  equator
Mosaic of satellite images highlighting water-vapor in the atmosphere on Tuesday 24 June 2014, over the Pacific basin above the equator

The ‘belt of tropical activity’ appears much more active than over the Atlantic and Equatorial Africa on this view.  A train of large storm systems extends all the way from the Gulf of Panama in the east to the Philippines and beyond or more than 20,000 km. with only one significant gap to the southeast of Hawaii.

Water-vapor filtered mosaic of satellite images of 24 June 2014 over Australia, portiond of the Indian Ocean and the Southeast Pacific Ocean
Water-vapor filtered mosaic of satellite images of 24 June 2014 over Australia, portions of the Indian Ocean and the Southeast Pacific Ocean

A rather different array of  weather systems is visible over the high latitudes in the southern hemisphere, where winter 2014 has just set in. A major weather system is clearly visible over New Zealand. However the other big islands south of the equator, Australia, Madagascar, are enjoying mostly clear weather during the earlier hours of this Tuesday 24 June 2014.

We all know however that it is just a question of time. Some of these cells in the northern hemisphere may start to show signs of cyclonic development, and in no time we may see a tropical cyclone over any of the basins that are cradles of cyclogenesis. So we keep on watching, looking for those early signs that allows us to investigate, and follow, and forecast. It is a never ending process between humans and Nature.

The most amazing aspect of this, one at which I always marvel, is that a rather insignificant weather cell over the central Indian Ocean just starting its westward journey. and a similarly anonymous storm cell over the Northwestern Pacific moving eastward along the fringes of a jet-strean may, not only survive their long journeys, but actually grow picking-up  strength and  size along the way, and get to interact with one another three weeks from today generating the next cyclonic event over the Atlantic, our neck-of-the-woods here in Florida.

Consequently, amazing as this view from above, and marvelous as the never-ending workings of the atmosphere and oceans are, the fact remains that we humans must always be alert, prepared and engaged in the practice of mitigation to reduce the potential for damage from that next one, which might be under gestation starting from opposite extreme of our planet Earth.

Enjoy today’s panoramic vistas. Keep on watching!

GOING OUT WITH A BANG?

In the course of just over one week since SANDY generated from a tropical depression in the Caribbean, became a tropical storm and reached hurricane strength as it hit Jamaica and then Cuba, also affecting Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It then continued over the Bahamas, creating concerns among residents of Florida as all of the peninsula’s east coast found itself within the “cone of uncertainty used by The National Hurricane Center to surround the predicted track of a tropical cyclone.

Atlantic wide satellite view (NOAA) on 28 October 2012 showing water vapor in the atmosphere to highlight Tropical Cyclone SANDY, other areas of disturbed weather, as well as vast regions of mainly dry air

In moving over The Bahamas hurricane SANDY began following what could best be  described as a zigzagging track, first aiming toward the northwest paralleling the coast of Florida, but then turned north and later on toward the northeast paralleling the coast of Georgia and South Carolina, only to start describing another turn to the north and then the northwest aiming toward the mid-Atlantic and northeastern coastline of the USA.

Projected track for Hurricane SANDY as of 28 October 2012 developed by the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory on the basis of observational data from NOAA

In the process of meandering over the western Atlantic following the USA coastline Hurricane SANDY also began growing in size until it has become quite a large storm menacing hundreds of miles of USA coastline from North Carolina to Maine. It appears storm surge will be the main hazard as this behemoth of a tropical cyclone interacts with the numerous bays, sounds, inlets and other topography along the coastal region, which generate a funneling effect on the rushing waters contributing to storm surge and waves of enormous height. However, inland flooding and strong winds will also add to the impact, and could cause sever damage and human suffering.

GOES color-enhanced infrared satellite image (NOAA) showing Hurricane SANDY on 28 October 2012 as it approaches the coast of the USA

With SANDY being the 19th named storm of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season are we already seeing the last of the season? Is this the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season going out with a bang, or is there more fuel left in the tropics so that we may still see additional cyclonic activity in days and weeks to come? After all the “official” season, as if Mother Nature really pays attention to this,  still has more than four weeks left to go.

Satellite image (NOAA) showing two tropical waves over hurricane alley and the eastern Atlantic on 28 October 2012

Regarding the possibility of more fuel left in the tropics to support additional tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic, there are currently two tropical waves moving along hurricane alley that may warrant paying attention to over coming days, for any signs of potential further development.

Color-enhanced infrared satellite image on 28 October 2012 showing Typhoon SON-TINH over the Gulf of Tonkin about to make landfall in Viet Nam near Haiphong and Hanoi

Elsewhere in the world, there is tropical cyclone activity in the South China Sea at the northwestern extreme of the Pacific Ocean, where Typhoon Son-Tinh is making landfall over Viet Nam over the Gulf of Tonkin near Haiphong and Hanoi. Also in the Pacific there is a good sized tropical wave half way between Hawaii and the Philippines while closer to our region, over the Eastern Pacific,  there is a large elongated cell of disturbed weather and low pressure extending from just off-shore Central America to about 1,000 kilometers SSW of Acapulco, Mexico, which may show some potential for cyclonic development.

Color-enhanced infrared GOES satellite (NOAA) image on 28 October 2012 showing a region of low pressure and disturbed weather off the coast of central America and Mexico

There is also plenty of stormy weather over the northern Indian Ocean where we see a large cell of low pressure, showing some signs of potential cyclonic activity, over the southern end of the Bay of Bengal, off the coast of India near Madras and the nation of Sri Lanka, which may warrant close monitoring over the next couple of days. On the other side of the subcontinent, off the west coast of India over the Arabian Sea there are some areas of disturbed weather that may warrant monitoring.

Color enhanced infrared satellite image showing a potential tropical cyclone near India and other regions of disturbed weather over the Indian Ocean on 28 October 2012

The southern hemisphere is relatively quiet at this time, except for a couple of areas near New Zealand and over Australia, although there are large areas of disturbed weather and strong winds near the extreme southern latitudes.

Full-disk satellite image of Earth over the Pacific Ocean on 27 October 2012 showing the ‘belt of tropical activity’, spanning from just off the coast of Mexico to near the Philippines, as well as a cell of low pressure near Mexico
Full-disk satellite image of Earth’s western hemisphere on 28 October 2012 showing a discontinuous ‘belt of tropical activity, a couple of tropical waves along hurricane alley and in the eastern Atlantic, as well as Hurricane Sandy approaching the USA coastline

How damaging will the impact of Hurricane SANDY be over the USA? Is SANDY the last activity of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season? How much more cyclonic activity will there be in the northern hemisphere? When will the southern hemisphere start to see more tropical cyclones? How will 2012 rate in terms of total tropical cyclone activity worldwide compared to previous years? Yes, there are a number of questions that we would like to have answered, but we will have to wait until after the end of the year for some of those answers.