This is an image of Hurricane Ophelia (2005) from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-12 during the storms warm-core tropical stages. Credit: Naval Research Laboratory, Marine Meteorology Division.
This image, also from the GOES-12 satellite, shows Hurricane Ophelia (2005) interacting with a mid-latitude front draped across the northeastern U.S. as it loses some of its tropical characteristics. Credit: Naval Research Laboratory, Marine Meteorology Division.
Hurricanes can completely re-structure themselves inside, and that presents forecasters with great uncertainty when predicting their effects on the general population.
Recently, scientists used data from NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite to analyze transformations that take place inside a hurricane. Stephen Guimond, a graduate research assistant at Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla., lead a study that used TRMM data to view the height at which ice melts near the core of several tropical cyclones (the generic name for hurricanes or tropical storms), including Hurricane Ophelia in 2005.
“The temperature structure of a tropical cyclone is directly related to a storm’s wind speed and rainfall, which indirectly affects the storm surge,” Guimond said. It is important to monitor a storm’s thermal structure because this information assists meteorologists in estimating the impact on threatened areas of high winds, flash flooding and large storm surge.
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