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Hurricane Season 2006: Hector (Pacific)
08.17.06
 
Tropical Storm Hector Fizzling Out in the Pacific

TRMM image of Hector from August 18 3D satellite image of Hector


+ Larger TRMM image | + Larger 3D TRMM image


What is Hector's Current Status?

Hector is in the open waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean and is no threat to land. As of 15:00 UTC (11:00 a.m. EDT) on Mon. Aug. 21, Tropical Storm Hector was located near 21.2 North and 135.1 West. Hector's present movement was toward the northwest at 6 knots (7 mph). Hector's estimated minimum central pressure 1005 millibars and had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (35 knots) with gusts to 52 mph (45 knots). Hector is forecast to weaken and dissipate by Tues. Aug. 22.

A Satellite View of Hector and his Rains

The image above shows Hector in 3-D as seen from the northwest by using data from the Precipitation Radar (PR) instrument on NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. The image is from Friday, Aug. 18, 2006 at 6:35 a.m. EDT (10:35 UTC). At this time, Hector was a hurricane and was forecast to weaken as the storm moved over cooler waters and wind shear (winds that tear a hurricane apart) increased.

From its low-earth orbit, TRMM has been providing valuable images and information on tropical cyclones around the Tropics, especially over open ocean where data is scarce. This 3-D image of Hector reveals the first signs of weakening. At the time of this image, Hector was a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds estimated at 104 mph (90 knots) by the National Hurricane Center. However, TRMM shows that the western portion of the eyewall has deteriorated as shown by the break in the inner-most ring of cloud tops (note the gap in the green tops).

TRMM is like a rain gauge in space, and using different instruments, TRMM can see how much rain is falling in a storm. The second image shows how heavy the rain was falling from one side of the storm to the other (a top down view). While bands of moderate to heavy (green and red areas) wrap tightly around the eastern half of the storm, there is very little rain evident on the western side. TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.



CloudSat's Sideways View of Pacific Hurricane Hector

CloudSat Image of Hurricane Hector

These two images are from two different satellites, giving a top-down and sideways view of Hurricane Hector, spinning in the eastern Pacific on Aug. 17, 2006.

The top image is from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) to give an idea of how the storm looked from the top. This data was processed by NASA's GOES Project at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The bottom images are from CloudSat.

The CloudSat image (bottom) was taken from NASA's CloudSat satellite on Aug. 17 at approximately 4:44 p.m. EDT (20:44 UTC).The right side of the CloudSat image shows less cloud cover, which matches with the top left part of the storm in the GOES image above.

The red and purple areas indicate large amounts of cloud water. The blue areas along the top of the clouds indicates cloud ice, while the wavy blue lines on the bottom center of the image indicate intense rainfall. Notice that the solid line along the bottom of the panel, which is the ground, disappears in these areas of intense precipitation. It is likely that in the area the precipitation rate exceeds 30mm/hr (1.18 inches/hour) based on previous studies.

Where is Hurricane Hector and What is His Future?

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast for Hurricane Hector as of 11:00 a.m. EDT (15:00 UTC) on Aug. 18, places Hector's center near 16.1 North and 125.8 West. Hector's movement is toward the west-northwest at 12 knots (14 mph). Hector's estimated minimum central pressure is 972 millibars, and maximum sustained winds are 85 knots (99 mph) with gusts to 105 knots (120 mph).

The NHC forecast discussions indicate that they feel Hector will dissipate by the middle of the week beginning Sunday, Aug. 20.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/The Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA), Colorado State University/NOAA (+ Large Version of Image)



NASA's AIRS Instrument Captures Hurricane Hector's Clouds and Rainfall

AIRS image of Hurricane Hector
AIRS image of Hurricane Hector

Hurricane Hector continues to track west-northwest in the open eastern Pacific Ocean. The National Hurricane Center's report at 15:00 UTC (11:00 a.m. EDT) on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006, confirms that Hector's increased wind speed is now at hurricane status.

Hector's center was located near 14.7 north latitude and 121.1 west longitude. Present movement was toward the west-northwest at 11 knots (12 mph). Estimated minimum central pressure was 979 millibars, and Hector's maximum sustained winds were 75 knots (86 mph) with gusts to 90 knots (103 mph), making Hector a Category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

Top Image: This is an infrared image of Tropical Depression Hector forming in the eastern Pacific, from Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on NASA's Aqua satellite on August 15, 2006. This AIRS image shows the temperature of the cloud tops or the surface of the Earth in cloud-free regions. The lowest temperatures (in purple) are associated with high, cold cloud tops that make up the top of the hurricane. The infrared signal does not penetrate through clouds. Where there are no clouds the AIRS instrument reads the infrared signal from the surface of the Earth, revealing warmer temperatures (red).

Bottom Image: The second image is created from microwave radiation emitted by Earth's atmosphere and received by the instrument. It shows where the heaviest rainfall is taking place (in blue) in the storm. Blue areas outside the storm, where there are either some clouds or no clouds indicate where the sea surface shines through.

Credit: NASA JPL, NASA GSFC. (+ Large Version of Top Image | + Large Version of Bottom Image



The Eastern Pacific's Tropical Storm Hector

TRMM image of Tropical Storm Hector

This image of Tropical Storm Hector was taken by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite (TRMM) at 10:50 UTC (6:50 a.m. EDT) Aug. 16, 2006. TRMM is like a rain gauge in space, and using different instruments, TRMM can see how much rain is falling in a storm. This image shows rain intensity (top down view). The center is indicated by the heavier rain area (green and yellow area in the center). The blue areas indicate light precipitation amounts.

In addition to rainfall data, TRMM also obtains data in the infrared part of the spectrum to see the clouds associated with Hector. Infrared is a band of the electromagnetic spectrum between the visible and the microwave, that is so red humans cannot see it. TRMM was placed into service in November of 1997.

What is Hector's Current Status? Hector is in the open waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean and is currently no threat to land.

As of 15:00 UTC (11:00 a.m. EDT) on Wed. Aug. 16, Tropical Storm Hector was located near 13.0 North and 117.2 West. Hector's present movement was toward the west at 10 knots (11 mph). Hector's estimated minimum central pressure 992 millibars and had maximum sustained winds of 63 mph (55 knots) with gusts to 75 mph (65 knots).

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), all indications from Geostationary Orbiting Environmental satellite (GOES) imagery on the morning of Aug. 16 were that Hector is strengthening and could become a hurricane very soon.

Credit: NASA/JAXA. (+ Large Version of Image)