Powerful storms surround eye of Ompong—NASA

Sattelites of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration trailing Typhoon “Ompong” (international name Mangkhut), the 15th to lash the Philippines, have found powerful storms surrounding its eye before its landfall over northern Luzon on Saturday.

On Sept. 13 (Friday in Manila), the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS  instrument on the Aqua satellite looked at Ompong in infrared as it was approaching the Philippines, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Rob Gutro said in a blog post.

MODIS is a payload imaging sensor built by Santa Barbara Remote Sensing that was launched into Earth orbit by NASA in 1999 on board the Terra Satellite, and in 2002 on board the Aqua satellite. 

According to the blog, the satellite’s instrument “found coldest cloud top temperatures around the eye, as cold as or colder than minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit (F)/minus 112 degrees Celsius (C). 


“Surrounding the eye were thick rings of powerful storms with cloud tops as cold as or colder than minus 70F (minus 56.6C),” he added.

Gutro referred to NASA’s research, which suggested that cloud top temperatures as cold as or colder than the 70F/56.6C threshold had the capability to induce heavy rainfall, which would forewarn of torrential rains that Ompong might bring to Luzon, the country’s main island from a total 7,000 plus. 

Another satellite, the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP, passed directly over Ompong from space two days earlier and gazed down its eye.

This is the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership or Suomi NPP, previously known as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project and NPP-Bridge, a weather satellite operated by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

“Visible imagery on Sept. 12 at 11:44 p.m. EDT (Sept. 12 at 0354 UTC from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite showed that Mangkhut had a clear eye that enabled the satellite to see through it all the way to the surface of the Northwestern Pacific Ocean,” Gutro said.

Gutro mentioned a report by the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center showing that strong, compact feeder bands of thunderstorms were spiraling tightly into the typhoon’s eye.

JTWC considers Ompong as a super typhoon and equal to a Category 5 hurricane in the western hemisphere.

In its latest analysis, the Hawaii-based joint US Navy-Air Force command said the typhoon was  packing 278 kph sustained winds and gusts reaching 333 kph in 1-minute readings.

It warned that Ompong might continue to strengthen Friday, reaching peak intensity of 287 kph winds and 352 kph gusts before landfall. 

The typhoon is expected to make landfall in Cagayan Valley in the northeast at dawn today and, by afternoon, weathermen said it would be already west of Laoag and Pinili in Ilocos Norte.

Topics: National Aeronautics and Space Administration , Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer , Rob Gutro , Santa Barbara Remote Sensing , NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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