All eyes on Hurricane Michael

It is expected to bring strong winds, storm surges and heavy rainfall to much of the southeast.

This AIRs image shows the temperature of clouds or the surface in and around Hurricane Michael. Purple represents very cold clouds, the much warmer eye is shown in green, and the red areas are warmer and mostly cloud-free. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
This AIRs image shows the temperature of clouds or the surface in and around Hurricane Michael. Purple represents very cold clouds, the much warmer eye is shown in green, and the red areas are warmer and mostly cloud-free. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Tropical storm Michael furrowed into the Florida panhandle Wednesday, Oct. 10, as a noteworthy Category 4 storm – the strongest hurricane to hit that area. Numerous NASA instruments are monitoring Michael from space, including the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) and the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR).

The first picture, taken via AIRS, indicates Hurricane Michael simply off the west shore of Florida on Oct. 10 in the early morning hours local time. The large purple zone shows exceptionally chilly mists at about – 90°F (- 68°C) conveyed high into the air by deep thunderstorms. These tempest mists are related to heavy rainfall. The eye, or, in other words than the surrounding clouds, shows up in green. The red zones moving far from the storm show temperatures of around 60°F (15°C), normal of the surface of Earth during the evening. These red areas are generally cloud free.

MISR conveys nine cameras settled at various edges, every one of which saw Michael through the span of roughly seven minutes when it was simply off Florida’s west drift on Tuesday, Oct. 9.

MISR carries nine cameras fixed at different angles, each of which viewed Michael over the course of approximately seven minutes when it was just off Florida's west coast on Tuesday, October 9. Credits: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech, MISR Team
MISR carries nine cameras fixed at different angles, each of which viewed Michael over the course of approximately seven minutes when it was just off Florida’s west coast on Tuesday, October 9.
Credits: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech, MISR Team

mages from the nine views are used to calculate the height of the cloud tops, and the motion of the clouds between the views provides information on wind speed and direction. This first MISR image shows the view from the central, downward-pointing camera (left), the calculated cloud-top heights (middle) and wind velocity arrows (right) superimposed on top. The length of the arrows is proportional to wind speed, and the colors show the altitude of the cloud tops in kilometers.

The 3D view of hurricane Michael showed by MISR’s stereo anaglyph. The view includes two of MISR’s camera angles. Utilizing 3D red-blue glasses, you can see various bright “clumps.”

These clumps, called “vortical hot towers,” are groups of strong rainstorms embedded in the bigger flow of the hurricane. They demonstrate the fast transport of heat energy from the sea surface into the storm and as a rule happen when a storm strengthens rapidly.

The National Hurricane Center clocked Michael’s sustained wind speed at 150 mph (240 kph) just before noon local time on Wednesday, Oct. 10. It is expected to bring strong winds, storm surges and heavy rainfall to much of the southeast.

MISR's stereo anaglyph shows a three-dimensional view of Michael and combines two of MISR's nine camera angles. Using 3D red-blue glasses, you can see the 3D effect. Apparent in the 3D stereo anaglyph as well as the height field are a number of bright “clumps.” These are groups of strong thunderstorms embedded within the larger circulation of the hurricane. Credits: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech, MISR Team
MISR’s stereo anaglyph shows a three-dimensional view of Michael and combines two of MISR’s nine camera angles. Using 3D red-blue glasses, you can see the 3D effect. Apparent in the 3D stereo anaglyph as well as the height field are a number of bright “clumps.” These are groups of strong thunderstorms embedded within the larger circulation of the hurricane.
Credits: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech, MISR Team

AIRS, in conjunction with the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU), senses emitted infrared and microwave radiation from Earth to provide a three-dimensional look at Earth’s weather and climate.

Working in tandem, the two instruments make simultaneous observations down to Earth’s surface, even in the presence of heavy clouds. With more than 2,000 channels sensing different regions of the atmosphere, the system creates a global, three-dimensional map of atmospheric temperature and humidity, cloud amounts and heights, greenhouse gas concentrations, and many other atmospheric phenomena.

Launched into Earth orbit in 2002, the AIRS and AMSU instruments fly onboard NASA‘s Aqua spacecraft and are managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech, in Pasadena, California.