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Hurricane Season 2009: Hamish (Pacific Ocean)
03.12.09
 
March 12, 2009

Hamish's Track of Fear to End by Friday the 13th

AIRS image of Hamish from March 12, 2009> Click for larger image
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
Tropical Cyclone Hamish has severely weakened overnight to a remnant low pressure area, and is now forecast to fade near the northern Queensland coast. Hamish became a major hurricane and moved along the Queensland, Australia coast, threatening landfall, but never achieving it until now as a remnant low between the towns of MacKay and Townsville. Hamish is expected to fizzle by Friday the 13th, ending it's "track of fear."

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center issued their final warning on Hamish's remnants on March 12 at 03:00 Zulu Time (1:00 p.m. local time, Queensland). At that time it was located 485 miles southeast of Cairns, Queensland, Australia, near 21.8 degrees south latitude and 152.7 degrees east longitude. Hamish's center was moving west near 9 knots (10 mph), and sustained winds were down to 25 knots (28 mph). No regeneration is anticipated.

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Hamish on Mar. 12 at 03:53 Zulu Time (10:53 a.m. local time, Queensland). In the satellite image, the round blue area near northeast Queensland (the region that comes to a point facing north) is where some of Hamish's remnant rains are at the time this was taken. AIRS generates infrared, microwave and visible images. The AIRS infrared data creates an accurate 3-D map of atmospheric temperature, water vapor and clouds, all of which are helpful to forecasters.

Winds are a factor for some towns in northeast Queensland. The Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology issued Coastal Waters Wind Warnings from the town of Bowen to Cape Moreton on March 12. In addition, they issued a Strong Wind Warning from Bowen to Cape Moreton, including Hervey Bay where south-southeast winds are expected to gust up to 33 knots (37 mph).

According to the Bureau, at 7 p.m. EST the remnant low (Ex-Tropical Cyclone Hamish) was about 135 nautical miles east of Mackay and moving northwest at 10 knots. The rest of the forecast for the region reads: "The low is expected to remain weak while continuing to move north or northwest. A trough extends southwards from this low to northeast of Fraser Island and is expected to deepen on Friday, possibly with another weak low developing. This will maintain strong winds about the Central and Capricornia coasts, easing during the weekend as the trough moves northeast and weakens."

Text credit: Rob Gutro/Goddard Space Flight Center


March 10, 2009

Cyclone Hamish Does a U-Turn at Sea, Now Headed Back North

Aqua image of Tropical Cyclone Hamish> Click for larger image
Credit: NASA, Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team
Cyclone Hamish has been causing Australians that live in the Queensland region to bite their fingernails for the last week, and will continue to do so. Once a major cyclone, Hamish is now a tropical storm. Yesterday, Hamish did a U-turn in the ocean after traveling in a southeast direction paralleling the Queensland coast. Now, it's headed northwest, backtracking in the direction from which it came toward Cairns. It continues to create dangerous surf conditions and beach erosion on its northern track.

On Wed. March 11, at 15:00 Zulu Time (11:51 am EST, or 1:00 a.m. Thursday, March 12 local time, Queensland), Hamish was located about 315 miles north-northeast of Brisbane, Queensland. That's near 22.5 south and 154.7 east. Hamish had sustained winds down to 45 knots (51 mph). Tropical storm force winds extend outward from Hamish's center out to 55 miles.

It's moving north near 5 knots (6 mph). It's still generating waves up to 25 feet high, and creating dangerous surf conditions along the Queensland coast. Severe beach erosion from huge ocean swells has ruined beaches up and down the South-East Queensland coast. Mooloolaba and Noose beaches are reported to have received the most damage and erosion from the storm. Beaches from Coolangatta to the north on the Gold Coast remain closed. Tides are Rainbow Beach went all the way to the tree line, covering all of the sand.

Rainfall has been another issue with Hamish, despite its center remaining off the coast. The town of Boondall received 1.14 inches (29 millimeters) and Murrumba Downs received almost one inch (24 millimeters). Other areas along the Sunshine Coast such as Mapleton and Maleny, received more than 2 inches (50 millimeters) of rain. Last month, these areas were inundated with rain from other storms.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center noted that Hamish has weakened as it has been encountering adverse atmospheric conditions.

Hamish is forecast to track increasingly northwestward.

This image of Hamish was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on March 9, 2009 at 3:30 Universal Time Coordinated. The storm was compact, with a ring of towering thunderclouds surrounding the cloud-filled eye. A few hours before this image was taken, Hamish had maximum sustained winds near 110 knots (127 mph), with gusts up to 135 knots (155 mph). Northwest of the storm, the waters around the Great Barrier Reef were bright turquoise, a sign that winds and waves had churned up sediment.

In 4 days, Hamish is expected to dissipate as a "significant tropical storm" over open waters parallel to the Australian coast.

Text credit: Rob Gutro with Rebecca Lindsey/Goddard Space Flight Center


March 10, 2009

Cyclone Hamish May Loop in Ocean Off Queensland, Australia

AIRS image of Tropical Cyclone Hamish taken on March 10, 2009> Click for larger image
Credit: NASA
Cyclone Hamish continues to pound the Queensland region of Australia today, but forecasters are thinking that it may turn away from the coast in the next day. However, a 2 to 3 day forecast suggests that it may make what is called a "cyclonic loop" and possibly head back to land later in the week as a weaker storm.

Hervey Bay is one area that is dealing with unusually high tides and rough seas as Tropical Cyclone Hamish passes today, March 10, 2009. In addition, central and southern coastal communities are still feeling Hamish's effects.

NASA's Aqua satellite has been flying over Hamish daily. The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument onboard captured Hamish's cloud temperatures on Mar. 9 at 3:23 UTC (1:23 p.m. local time Queensland, Australia). The image shows the frigid cloud top temperatures, giving forecasters a clue to a storm's strength. The coldest temperatures (and highest cloud tops) appear in purple. Those purple areas are as cold as 220 degrees Kelvin or minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or colder, and there are two small such areas on this AIRS image. Lower, less cold clouds are depicted in blue, which are around 240 degrees Kelvin, or minus 27F.

Early on March 10, Hamish was still 210 nautical miles north-northeast of Brisbane, Australia. That's near 24.5 degrees south and 155.0 degrees east. Hamish continues to move southeastward near 7 knots. If the forecast track holds, Hamish will turn east toward open waters before it reaches Brisbane.

Maximum sustained winds are near 90 knots (103 mph) with higher gusts. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center noted that Hamish continues to be a very intense storm, although it's beginning to weaken because of vertical wind shear. Vertical shear, or the change of winds with height, interacts with thunderstorms that make up tropical cyclones (or stand alone) to either strengthen or weaken the storm.

The forecast specifically says "Over the next 24 hours, the system will track generally eastward, while steadily weakening. As this weakening occurs, the storm will slow and then be steered by a low to mid-level subtropical ridge (an elongated area of high pressure) to the south causing the storm to enter into a slow loop between 24 and 36 hours. Forecasters are still uncertain about the timing of the slow turn back towards land.

A tropical cyclone warning is up for the northern parts of Fraser Island, Queensland. A tropical cyclone watch is up from Yeppoon to Tewantin. That includes Heron Island and Lady Elliot Island. At 6 am EST on March 10, Cyclone Hamish was about 230 kilometers (142 miles) east of Sandy Cape, near Hervey Bay. But central and southern coastal communities are still feeling the effects of Hamish. It is whipping up four-meter (13 foot) ocean swells and 90 kilometer/hr (55 mph) winds in some areas, which could continue for 48 hours.

Hamish is expected to be downgraded to a Category 2 storm tomorrow morning, March 11, but Australians need to watch its path once it loops in the open ocean and heads back to the mainland.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


Aqua image of Tropical Cyclone Hamish on March 9, 2009.> Click for larger image Credit: NASA March 9, 2009

Aqua Catches a Glimpse of Cyclone Hamish

This terrifying image of Tropical Cyclone Hamish was captured by the MODIS instrument onboard the Aqua satellite on March 09, 2009.






March 9, 2009

Dangerous Cyclone Hamish Skirts Along Australia's Queensland Coast

satellite image of Hamish Infrared image of Hamish. Credit: NASA JPL/Ed Olson
> Larger image
On Sunday, Tropical Cyclone Hamish became a major hurricane with sustained winds pushing it into a Category Four storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Frightened residents of Australia's Queensland region received some good news, however. Hamish's center would stay off-shore, although the out reaches of the storm are reaching land and causing havoc.

Hamish is expected to edge along the state's central and southern coastline bringing heavy rains and gusty winds. It is forecast to weaken to a Category Three cyclone in the next day or two.

Meanwhile, some of the highest tides of the year have been reported, and evacuations have taken place. Evacuations took place from Lady Elliot and Heron islands, Great Keppel Island and Fraser Island.

Cyclone warnings still apply to coastal areas from Yeppoon in central Queensland Hervey Bay on the Fraser Coast. The mainland can still expect damaging wind gusts of up to 100 kilometers (62 mph) an hour.

The infrared imagery of the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite is used to identify the cloud temperatures in tropical cyclones, but it also showed a strengthening storm. It captured this image of Hamish on Mar. 7 at 3:41 Zulu Time (1:41 local time, Queensland) (Mar. 6 at 10:41 EST). AIRS also captured a visible image that clearly shows Hamish's eye close to the Australian coast.

satellite image of Hamish Visible-light image of Hamish. Credit: NASA JPL > Larger image In the storm's clouds, the lowest temperatures (in purple) are associated with high, cold cloud tops. Those temperatures are as cold as or colder than 220 degrees Kelvin or minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (F). The blue areas are around 240 degrees Kelvin, or minus 27F. In powerful storms like Hamish, the eye can even be seen on Infrared imagery (the small blue round area in the center of the storm).

On March 9 at 03:00 Zulu Time (10 a.m. local time, Queensland) (11 p.m. EDT), Hamish had sustained winds near 110 knots (126 mph or 203 km/hr). At that time Hamish's center was located near 22.4 degrees south latitude and 153.1 degrees east longitude, about 320 nautical miles north of Brisbane, Australia. Hamish is moving southwestward near 8 knots (9 mph).

According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Hamish will remain a "fairly intense storm" for the next two days.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center



Terra image of Tropical Cyclone Hamish on March 7, 2009.> Click for larger image
Credit: NASA
March 07, 2009

Terra Sees Hamish's Swirling Cyclone

This image of Tropical Cyclone Hamish was taken by the MODIS instrument on the Terra satellite on March 07, 2009.








March 6, 2009

Australia's Queensland Region Under Tropical Cyclone Warning from Hamish

NOAA-17 image of Tropical Cyclone Hamish> Click for larger image
Credit: NOAA/NRL
Tropical Cyclone Hamish has been building up steam, and crawling toward the east coast of Queensland, Australia. Watches and Warnings have already been posted in areas that are expecting strong wind gusts and heavy rains.

On March 6 at 1500 Zulu Time (10 a.m. EST), Hamish's sustained winds had increased to near 80 knots (92 mph) with gusts to 100 knots (115 mph). It was located about 120 miles north-northeast of Cairns, Queensland, Australia, near 15.5 degrees south and 147.2 degrees east longitude. Hamish was moving along toward the south-southeast near 7 knots (8 mph). Satellite imagery indicates that the system has continued to consolidate and has recently developed an eye about 25 nautical miles across, indicating a strengthening storm.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center noted that "Hamish has intensified rapidly over the past twelve hours, and will continue to strengthen as it slowly approaches the coast of Queensland. As atmospheric conditions worsen and the proximity of land becomes an issue, the system will start to weaken after Saturday, from its peak of 90 knots (103 mph)."

A tropical cyclone warning has been posted from Cooktown to Bowen in Queensland. Meanwhile, a tropical cyclone watch is up from Bowen and Yeppoon. Residents between Cooktown and Townsville can expect flooding due to large waves and heavy rainfall. Higher than normal tide levels can be expected to the south of the cyclone.

This satellite image was taken from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite, NOAA-17 on March 6 at 11:24 Zulu Time (6:24 a.m. EST) when the storm was nearing the Queensland coast.

The cyclone formed over the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia's state of Queensland Thursday. The projected forecast path means a potential for landfall along the central Queensland coast by Sunday.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


March 5, 2009

Cyclone Hamish Forms off Northeast Australian Coast

satellite image of Hamish Credit: NASA/JPL
> Larger image
If there's one thing the Queensland region of Australia doesn't want, it's a tropical cyclone. In the beginning of February, Cyclone Ellie made landfall and brought flooding rains with her. Now Hamish threatens more rainfall for that northeastern region of the country as a landfall is expected south of the town of Cairns on March 7.

The infrared imagery of the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite is used to identify the cloud temperatures in tropical cyclones, but it also showed a strengthening storm. It captured this image of Hamish on Mar. 5 at 3:53 Zulu Time (Mar. 4 at 10:53 p.m. EST). Animated infrared satellite imagery (such as from AIRS) and a Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) image from the Defense Meteorological Satellite show a rapidly consolidating system with significantly improving deep convective banding wrapping into a defined low-level circulation center.

In the storm's clouds, the lowest temperatures (in purple) are associated with high, cold cloud tops. Those temperatures are as cold as or colder than 220 degrees Kelvin or minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (F). The blue areas are around 240 degrees Kelvin, or minus 27F.

The infrared image also shows a large temperature difference between the tops of the clouds in a tropical cyclone and the scorching hot land in east central Australia.

On March 5 at 12:00 Zulu Time (7 a.m. EST), Hamish has sustained winds near 30 knots (34 mph). At that time Hamish's center was located near 14.0 degrees south latitude and 146.9 degrees east longitude, about 205 nautical miles north-northeast of Cairns, Australia. Hamish is moving southwestward near 6 knots (7 mph).

According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Hamish is in a favorable environment for intensifying. That means weak wind shear (winds that can tear a storm apart), and warm sea surface waters over 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees F), which power storms.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center