Follow this link to skip to                                      the main content

Featured Image

Text Size

Hurricane Adrian
05.19.05
 

Image of Hurricane Adrian taken by MODIS.

Image above: MODIS captured this image of Hurricane Adrian as it approached Central America on May 19, 2005. For alternate size images of this, visit the: MODIS Rapid Response System Gallery page for Adrian. Click on image to enlarge.

Only four tropical cyclones have made landfall over Guatemala or El Salvador since 1966: Tropical Storm Adrian is about to become the fifth. Adrian is the first tropical storm of the 2005 Pacific hurricane season, which officially runs from May 15 through November 30. Adrian formed on May 17, 2005, making it a slightly unusual early-season storm. No tropical cyclone has crossed Central America this early in May since records began, reports the National Hurricane Center.

Even more unusual than the timing of this storm is its path. Typically, hurricanes that form in the Eastern Pacific curve west and weaken over the ocean, or they may move north into Mexico. Adrian is moving east and is expected to make landfall over El Salvador and Guatemala on May 19. Its path is predicted to take it over the same region that was devastated by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Unlike Adrian, Mitch formed in the Atlantic and crossed this section of Central America from the east. If Adrian survives its encounter with the high mountains of Central America, it could re-emerge in the Caribbean and move over Cuba and the Bahamas. While storms occasionally cross from the Atlantic into the Pacific, it is extremely rare for a storm to move into the Atlantic from the Pacific as Adrian is set to do.

GOES satellite image of Tropical Storm Adrian taken on May 19, 2005  Medium sized image of the TRMM satellite picture of Hurricane Adrian

Image above left: An image of Hurricane Adrian taken by the GOES satellite on May 19, when it was upgraded to a hurricane by the National Hurricane Center. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when its maximum sustained winds are 65 knots with gusts to 80 knots. Click on image to enlarge. The International Space Station also caught a glimpse of Adrian as it passed 225 miles above (+ View Images from ISS Video). Credit: NASA/NOAA Image above right: Tropical Storm Adrian. Click on image to view quicktime movie of the movement of the storm and TRMM's precipitation radar. Credit: NASA

Tropical Depression Adrian formed in the afternoon of May 17. By evening, the storm had intensified into a weak tropical storm, and it continued to intensify through the night. It was during this intensification period that the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) captured this image of Adrian on May 18 at 03:22 a.m. local time (09:22 UTC). A dark band of red clouds curves around a nearly closed eye in the center of the image. The red—indicative of high rain rates—shows an area of intense thunderstorms near the core. TRMM research shows that when thunderstorms such as these appear around the core, the likelihood of the storm getting stronger or intensfying goes up. Adrian was in fact intensifying when TRMM captured this image, making this a valuable picture of how a storm is born.

The semi-circle of heavy rain also helped researchers identify the center of the storm early in its development. Without TRMM’s precipitation radar, the storm would simply be an large blob, with no clearly defined center.

This map from the National Hurricane Center shows the predicted track of Tropical Storm Adrian across Central America and into the Caribbean. Image above: This map from the National Hurricane Center shows the predicted track of Tropical Storm Adrian across Central America and into the Caribbean Sea late Sunday night. Credit: NOAA

The National Hurricane Center predicts that Adrian will continue to intensify, possibly into a weak hurricane, before striking the coast of Central America on May 19. Unusually warm waters are feeding the storm. Adrian has the potential to unleash heavy rains and floods on the mudslide-prone mountainous coastal region.

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

 
 
Jeff Halverson
Steve Lang
Goddard Space Flight Center