Follow this link to skip to                                      the main content

Featured Images

Text Size

Hurricane Season 2005: Ophelia
09.14.05
 
Latest Update: September 16, 2005 - 12:00 pm EDT

Latest MODIS Image of Ophelia

Image of Hurricane Ophelia taken by the Aqua satellite on September 15, 2005.

The hurricane was grazing along the North Carolina coastline without making landfall when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image at 2:20 p.m. Eastern time on September 15, 2005. At the time, Ophelia had winds of 120 kilometers per hour (75 miles per hour), easing off slightly from its latest peak and heading back down yet again to tropical storm status. The slow-moving storm was forecast to dump heavy rain on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but proved less destructive than feared. One death (due to a car accident in Raleigh attributed to slick roads) has been attributed to the storm, but fears of substantial flooding have largely not been realized. Click image to enlarge. + For higher resolutions of this image. Credit: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC


Earlier Images


TRMM Images of Ophelia

Over the last several days, Ophelia has meandered off of the southeast coast of the US due to weak steering currents. The system, which began as a depression over the Bahamas on the 6th of September 2005, has twice stalled out and made loops: once just east of Cape Canveral, Florida and the other further out to sea east of Georgia. Ophelia has also flip-flopped several times between a strong tropical storm and a weak Category 1 hurricane. Despite its very slow movement, which usually leads to weakening due to upwelling of cooler water, Ophelia has maintained itself as a result of warm waters an its proximity to the Gulf Stream. Ophelia is now poised to strike the Carolina coastline as a Category 1 hurricane.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (or TRMM) satellite has been following Ophelia's progress along the East Coast. Launched in 1997 to measure rainfall over the Tropics, TRMM has proven to be a valuable tool for monitoring and studying tropical cyclones. TRMM's compliment of instruments includes the TRMM Precipitation Radar (PR), the only radar capable of measuring precipitation from space, and the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI), a passive intrument that can also measure rainfall.

Image of Hurricane Ophelia
Click on the image to view full resolution


Image above: This image was taken by TRMM at 17:30 UTC (1:30 pm EDT) on 12 September 2005 as Ophelia was slowing looping due east of the Georgia coastline. The image shows the horizontal rain pattern within the storm (top down view). Rain rates in the inner swath are from the TRMM PR, and rates in the outer swath are from the TMI. The rainfall pattern is overlaid on infrared (IR) data from the TRMM Visible Infrared Scanner (VIRS). TRMM shows that Ophelia has a very large eye, but the overall rain intensity, especially near the center, is weak (blue areas). At the time of the image, Ophelia was a strong tropical storm with maximum sustained winds reported at 60 knots (69 mph) by the National Hurricane Center.

Image of Hurricane Ophelia Image of Hurricane Ophelia

Click on images to view full resolution


Left image: This image was taken at 12:24 UTC (8:24 am EDT) on September 14th, the northwest part of the eyewall is already over Cape Fear on the North Carolina coast. The overall storm structure appears little changed from the previous image with Ophelia still having a very large eye. However, the rain pattern is now more substantial with more areas of moderate rain (green areas). The pattern is also more symmetric (i.e., evenly distriubed around the storm). At the time of this image, Ophelia's winds were sustained at 70 knots (81 mph).

Right image: This image was taken at the same time and shows the height of the precipitation columns within Ophelia (as defined by the 15 dBZ isosurface) with a cutaway view through the southern part of the eye. The large eye is easily visible in the center along with the area of intense rain in the southwest corner of the eye (dark red area). However, there are no tall towers surrounding the eye that might indicate imminent strengthening.

TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.

Images credit: Hal Pierce (NASA GSFC)
Captions credit: Steve Lang (NASA GSFC)

Image of Hurricane Ophelia taken by the Aqua satellite on September 13, 2005.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on the Aqua satellite captured this image of Ophelia on September 13, 2005 still hanging off the coast of the Carolinas. + Higher resolution image Credit: NASA




Image of Ophelia taken from the International Space Station on September 11, 2005.


Framed by a window on the Station, this image of Hurricane Ophelia was captured by the Expedition 11 crew aboard the International Space Station on September 11, 2005. Credit: NASA

+ For more images of Ophelia from the International Space Station

TRMM/MODIS Images of Ophelia

On Tuesday morning, September 13th, Tropical Storm Ophelia remained stationary roughly 150 miles from the Carolina coast, producing sustained winds up to 70 miles per hour. New imagery from NASA satellites shows heavy rainfall developing in the eastern bands of the storm. Ophelia has already brought high winds and rain to some Carolina beaches and is expected to move north and east in the next few days. The storm was downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm status on Monday, but NASA scientists continue to keep a close eye on Ophelia.

Ophelia's hot towers close up.  Wide shot of Ophelia's towers. Images above: Data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite on September 11 show the heaviest rain developing in the eastern bands of Tropical Storm Ophelia. Blue represents areas with at least 0.25 inches of rain per hour. Green shows at least 0.5 inches of rain per hour. Yellow is at least 1.0 inches of rain and red is at least 2.0 inches of rain per hour. Credit: NASA/JAXA

+ High resolution of left image | + High resolution of right image

Ophelia off the east coast on September 8, 2005.  Ophelia off the east coast on September 11, 2005.

Images above: Images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites show Ophelia's position off the Carolina coast. Images taken September 8th and 11th. Click on either image to view animation of Ophelia's progression (no audio). Credit: NASA

+ High resolution of left image | + High resolution of right image

Quikscat Image of Ophelia on September 11

Quikscat image of Hurricane Ophelia taken on September 11, 2005.

NASA’s QuikSCAT satellite captured this image of Hurricane Ophelia on September 11, 2005, at 5:47 a.m. local time. At this time, the hurricane had sustained winds of 130 kilometers per hour (80 miles per hour; 70 knots).

Ophelia has been an intriguing storm. It formed off the Florida coast (an unusual formation point for a tropical storm), gradually built power to hurricane status over the course of a few days, and then wound down in strength. After spending several days one location, Ophelia moved further offshore, roughly parallel to the U.S. East Coast, and re-gathered strength to become the Category 1 hurricane by the time this image was taken. Forecast tracks for the storm are uncertain, but one conceivable storm track would take it ashore still at hurricane strength along the North Carolina Outer Banks shoreline.

The image depicts wind speed in color and wind direction with small barbs. White barbs point to areas of heavy rain. The highest wind speeds, shown in purple, surround the center of the storm. + Higher resolution image. Credit: NASA image courtesy of David Long, Brigham Young University, on the QuikSCAT Science Team, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


MODIS Spies Ophelia

Terra captured this image of Ophelia on September 11, 2005.

The latest information from the National Hurricane Center:

A tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch are in effect for the southeast coast of the United States from north of Edisto Beach, South Carolina northeastward to Cape Lookout, North Carolina.

At 8 am EDT the center of hurricane Ophelia was located about 215 miles east-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina and about 275 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Ophelia is nearly stationary and a very slow northwestward motion is expected today.

Maximum sustained winds are near 75 mph with higher gusts. Ophelia is a category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Little change in strength is forecast during the next 24 hours. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 160 miles.

Heavy rains associated with Ophelia could begin to affect coastal sections of northeastern South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina tonight or Tuesday. + Higher resolution image Credit: NASA

Ophelia Spins off the Florida Coast

For the last few days, Ophelia has hovered just off of the central east coast of Florida as a result of steering currents remaining weak. The system began as a tropical depression (TD #16) on 6 September 2005 over the northwestern Bahamas. Ophelia moved slowly northward at first and became a minimal tropical storm in the early morning hours of September 7 (local time), before stalling about 70 miles east of Cape Canaveral, Florida. Ophelia gradually strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane on September 8 but subsequently weaked back into a tropical storm on September 9. The intensity has remained close to a minimal hurricane. The system resides over warm waters, but the storms own circulation can stir up cooler water and inhibit its growth.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (or TRMM) satellite provides valuable images and information on hurricanes and tropical cyclones over the Tropics. TRMM captured these images of Ophelia at 15:22 UTC (11:22 am EDT) on 9 September 2005 as the storm was positioned east of the Florida coastline.

TRMM image of Ophelia on September 9, 2005.

The first image shows the horizontal distribution of rain within the storm (top down view) as revealed by TRMM's sensors. Rain rates in the inner swath are from the TRMM Precipitation Radar (PR), the only radar capable of measuring rainfall from space. The PR can also provide details on a storm's the vertical structure. Rain rates in the outer swath are from the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI). The rainfall pattern is overlaid on infrared (IR) data from the TRMM Visible Infrared Scanner (VIRS). TRMM shows that Ophelia has not yet formed a complete eye. A large rain band wraps around north and west of the center with areas of embedded heavy rain (dark reds). The curvature of this rain band indicates that Ophelia has developed a good circulation pattern, but it is not particularly strong. At the time of the image, Ophelia was a strong tropical storm with maximum sustained winds reported at 55 knots (63 mph) by the National Hurricane Center. + High resolution image

TRMM image of Ophelia showing the height of the precipitation columns within Ophelia on September 9, 2005.

The second image was taken at the same time and shows the height of the precipitation columns within Ophelia (as defined by the 15 dBZ isosurface). It shows that the heavy rain west of the center in the previous image is associated with higher storm tops as denoted by the area of taller red towers. Some of the towers exceed 15 km high and can be a sign of future strengthening. + High resolution image

TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA. Credit: Images produced by Hal Pierce (SSAI/NASA GSFC) and caption by Steve Lang (SSAI/NASA GSFC).


Ophelia Seen by Aqua on September 8, 2005

Hurricane Ophelia image taken by the MODIS instrument on the Aqua satellite on September 8, 2005.

The National Hurricane Center has posted this warning for Ophelia as of Friday, September 9, 2005:

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the east coast of Florida from Sebastian Inlet northward to Flagler Beach and a tropical storm watch remains in effect from north of Flagler Beach to Fernandina Beach.

Interests elsewhere north of the watch area through the Carolinas should monitor the progress of Ophelia. At 5 am EDT the center of tropical storm Ophelia was located about 115 miles east of Daytona Beach, Florida. Ophelia is moving toward the north-northeast near 6 mph and a turn to the northeast is expected during the next 24 hours.

Reports from a NOAA reconnaissance aircraft indicate that Ophelia has weakened to a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds near 65 mph with higher gusts. However Ophelia has the potential to restrengthen to a hurricane over the next day or so.

For more information, go to the National Hurricane Center's website.