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Hurricane Season 2006: Maria (Pacific)
08.08.06
 
Three Different Typhoons Spun in the Western Pacific -- Two Remain

QuickScat Image of Three Typhoons in the Pacific Ocean

Three different typhoons were spinning over the western Pacific Ocean on August 8, 2006, when NASA's QuikScat satellite acquired this image. The strongest of the three, Typhoon Saomai, formed in the western Pacific on August 4, 2006, as a tropical depression. Super Typhoon Saomai made landfall in southeast China on August 10, 2006. Saomai was labeled a "super typhoon" by Chinese forecasters because of its huge size and high wind speed.

While Saomai was strengthening into a storm, another tropical depression formed a few hundred kilometers to the north, and by August 6, it became tropical storm Maria. Bopha formed just as Maria reached storm status and became a storm itself on August 7.

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.

QuikSCAT employs a scatterometer, which sends pulses of microwave energy through the atmosphere to the ocean surface, and measures the energy that bounces back from the wind-roughened surface. The energy of the microwave pulses changes depending on wind speed and direction, giving scientists a way to monitor wind around the world.

Where are these Typhoons Now?

As of Aug. 11, Super Typhoon Saomai killed 104 people, left 190 unaccounted for, and forced the evacuation of 1.5 million people before the storm made landfall in the southeastern China coast. It was the most powerful storm to strike China in 50 years, and made landfall as a category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. Saomai weakened to a tropical depression late on Aug. 11 as it continued to move inland.

On Aug. 11, Chinese forecasters watching Tropical Storm Bopha, which trailed behind Typhoon Saomai in the Pacific. During the overnight hours of Aug. 10, Bopha crossed Taiwan with sustained winds of 40 mph.

By Aug. 11, Typhoon Maria was a memory. The typhoon, the season's seventh, brought heavy rain on the Kanto and southern Tohoku regions of Japan before becoming an extratropical depression on Aug. 10.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL. Caption Credit: NASA/JPL (+ Large Version of the Image)



Typhoon Maria Nearing Japan

Typhoon Maria, the season's seventh typhoon, formed on August 5, building to tropical storm strength and earning a name during the next day. Typhoon Maria, the season's seventh typhoon, formed on August 5, building to tropical storm strength and earning a name during the next day. By early August 7, the storm became powerful enough to be upgraded again to the status of typhoon. Maria had reached Category 1 strength on the Saffir-Simpson scale as it approached the island of Honshu in Japan, but it was expected to weaken back to tropical-storm status before making landfall.

The latest statement on Maria on Aug. 8 at 13:51 UTC (10:51 a.m. EDT) from the Naval Pacific Meteorology and Oceanography Center and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) placed Maria near 34.0 North latitude and 137.0 East longitude. Maximum sustained winds were 45 knots (52 mph) with higher gusts to 55 knots (63 mph). Maria is located approximately 180 nautical miles southwest of Tokyo, Japan, and has tracked north-northeast at 7 knots (8 mph). The JTWC noted that the maximum significant wave height is 20 feet associated with Maria. Japan's weather officials warned people in the Tokai and Kanto-Koshinetsu regions and the Izu islands against heavy rains, strong winds and high waves for Tuesday, Aug. 8 and Wed. Aug. 9.

The image to the left was made from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite (TRMM) at 1:32 p.m. local time (05:32 UTC) on August 7, 2006, as Maria was heading towards Honshu. The image shows the rain intensity within Typhoon Maria. The area of rain was fairly compact and shows patches of intense rain (red) along the eyewall. At the time of this image, Maria had just reached typhoon status, with maximum sustained winds reported at 120 kilometers per hour (75 miles per hour) by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency, JAXA. Click on image to enlarge. Credit image/caption: Hal Pierce (SSAI/NASA GSFC).



Active Storms in the Pacific

Typhoon Saomai in the Phillipines Sea.
Click image to enlarge.

Three different typhoons were spinning over the western Pacific Ocean on August 7, 2006, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this image. The strongest of the three, Typhoon Saomai, formed in the western Pacific on August 4, 2006, as a tropical depression. Within a day, it had become organized enough to be classified as a tropical storm. While Saomai was strengthening into a storm, another tropical depression formed a few hundred kilometers to the north and by August 6, became tropical storm Maria. Typhoon Bopha formed just as Maria reached storm status and became a storm itself on August 7.

As of August 7, the University of Hawaii’s Tropical Storm information center predicted that Bopha and Saomai would continue on tracks that would take each into China, while Maria would move northwest across the southern end of Japan. Saomai was predicted to gather strength, while Maria and Bopha were projected to remain near their current strengths.

This photo-like image was acquired at 12:35 p.m. local time (04:35 UTC) on August 7. It is unusual, but certainly not unprecedented, to have three storm systems all in the same general area at one time. The trio make an interesting illustration of the evolution of tropical storm systems. The youngest at just a few hours old, Bopha shows only the most basic round shape of a tropical storm. Maria, a day older, shows more distinct spiral structure with arms and an apparent central eye, even though both storms are around the same size and strength with peak sustained winds of around 90 and 100 kilometers per hour (58 and 63 miles per hour) respectively.

Yet a day older than Maria is the much more powerful Typhoon Saomai. At the time of this image, the typhoon had sustained winds of around 140 km/hr (85 mph) and it was projected that it would continue to gather strength before coming ashore in China, according to the University of Hawaii’s Tropical Storm information center. The typhoon’s well developed structure in comparison to Maria is clear in this image, including a distinct closed eye at the typhoon’s center.

The slanting diagonal feature through the image is sunlight bouncing off the ocean into the MODIS instrument, a phenomenon called sunglint. The very bright patch is where the sun was closest to being directly overhead over the satellite where the reflection is strongest. Credit: NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center.