September 28, 2010
TRMM Measures Matthew's Heavy Rains in Mexico that Exacerbates Flooding, Triggers Massive Landslide
Hurricane Season 2010: Tropical Storm Matthew (Atlantic)
As is the case with many tropical cyclones, the biggest threat is often not from high winds and storm surge but rather inland flooding, especially in conjunction with hilly or mountainous terrain. Matthew, which formed in the western Caribbean on the 23rd of September 2010 from a westward propagating tropical wave, never exceeded tropical storm intensity.
Its maximum sustained winds were 45 knots (~50 mph) when it made landfall in northeastern Nicaragua. After coming ashore in Nicaragua, the storm continued to track westward across northern Honduras before briefly emerging over water and making a second landfall in Belize.
Although the system was then downgraded to a tropical depression as it moved inland across northern Guatemala and into southern Mexico, it was here that the storm did its worst damage in the form of torrential rain, flooding and landslides. Matthew was initially responsible for 13 fatalities in Venezuela, Honduras and El Salvador.
In southern Mexico, however, the remnants of Matthew combined with the storm's circulation, which drew moisture from the Bay of Campeche inland across the foothills of the Sierra Madre del Sur, to produce heavy rains across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
The heavy rains from Matthew exacerbated the flooding situation in the region, which had previously received several days of heavy rain due in part to Hurricane Karl. The result was a massive landslide that occurred during the early morning hours of September 28th in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The town of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec was heavily damaged and 11 people are missing.
The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (or TRMM) satellite was launched back in November of 1997 with the primary mission of measuring rainfall from space using both passive microwave and active radar sensors. The TRMM-based, near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. provides estimates of rainfall over the global Tropics.
TMPA rainfall totals are shown here for Central America and the surrounding region from 20 to 27 September 2010, which includes the period from when Matthew formed over the Caribbean till it was downgraded to a remnant low over southern Mexico. The solid black line shows Matthew's path with appropriate storms symbols marking the 00Z positions and intensity. Matthew dumped upwards of 250 mm of rain (~10 inches, shown in orange) over the northeast coast of Nicaragua where it first made landfall.
A secondary peak with amounts on the order of 150 to 200 mm of rain (~6 to 8 inches, shown in green and yellow) is evident across southern Belize and northern Guatemala where Matthew made its second landfall. The highest totals, however, are over southern Mexico around the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Here where the remnants of the storm remained over the region for a longer period, rainfall totals range from 150 mm further inland to as much as 400 mm (~16 inches, shown in brown) on the coast southeast of Veracruz.
TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.
SSAI/NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
September 27, 2010
TRMM Satellite Sees the Soaking from Tropical Storm Matthew
The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite known as TRMM has the capability of measuring rainfall from space, and revealed in a 72 hour rain map today that Central America and eastern Mexico received as much as 3 to 7 inches of rain as the storm made landfall this weekend. Matthew's rainmaking is not over, however.
On Sunday, Sept. 26, Tropical Storm Matthew had weakened to a remnant low while continuing to dump heavy amounts of rain over eastern Mexico and Central America.
At 11 a.m. EDT, Sept. 26, Matthew's center of circulation was spinning down with maximum sustained winds near 25 mph. It was about 40 miles south of Villahermosa, Mexico near 17.4 North and 92.9 West. It was still moving west at about 9 mph and slowed to the point of being almost stationary later in the day. Matthew's minimum central pressure was 1003 millibars.
At NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. in the Laboratory for Atmospheres, a 72 hour rain map was created on the morning of Sept. 27. That rain map provided estimates of rainfall from Tropical Storm Matthew since Friday morning, Sept. 24 at 9:00 a.m. EDT. Since that time, much of Central America and Mexico received between 3 (76 millimeters) and 7 inches (177 mm) of rainfall.
During the mid-day on Sept. 26, the National Hurricane Center noted that "the remnant low of Matthew is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 10 to 20 inches from far southern Mexico into northern portions of Central America with isolated maximum amounts of 30 inches possible."
Matthew's remnants were continuing to generate rainfall at the airport in Minatitlan, Mexico at 9 a.m. EDT, Sept. 27 with a temperature of 79 °F and winds from the southwest near 12 mph. Veracruz, Mexico was also reporting rain with a temperature of 75°F and winds from the west-northwest near 21 mph.
Matthew is expected to dissipate over southeastern Mexico tonight, Sept. 27 and will keep generating rainfall.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
, Greenbelt, Md.
September 24, 2010
NASA Satellites See Tropical Storm Matthew Grow Quickly, Warnings Up in Central America
An instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite noticed increasing colder cloud top temperatures of tropical depression 15 in the south-central Caribbean just before it strengthened into Tropical Storm Matthew late on Sept. 23. The TRMM satellite also spotted heavy rainfall within the system. Matthew is now headed to the western Caribbean and watches and warnings are in place as Matthew may continue to strengthen.
Cloud top temperatures indicate the strength of the storm to forecasters. The colder the cloud top temperatures, the stronger the convection and uplift. When cloud top temperatures drop, as they did in Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) imagery captured on Sept. 23 at18:53 UTC (2:53 p.m. EDT) it indicates the storm is gaining strength. At that time, Matthew's maximum sustained winds were near 40 mph. In the image, the coldest cloud top temperatures (colder than -63 Fahrenheit) appeared around the center of Matthew's circulation already giving the appearance of an eye. The AIRS infrared image on Sept. 24 at 3:05 a.m. EDT showed a concentrated area of strong thunderstorms around Matthew's center as the sustained winds had increased to 50 mph.
AIRS has the ability to determine cloud top and sea surface temperatures from its position in space aboard NASA's Aqua satellite. Cloud top temperatures help forecasters know if a storm is powering up or powering down and Matthew is powering up.
In addition to the Aqua satellite, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite flew nearly above Matthews's location on Sep. 24 at 0159 UTC (9:59 p.m. EDT Sept. 23) capturing data used in a rainfall analysis done at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) data analyzed from this orbit showed moderate to heavy rainfall southwest of MATTHEW's center of circulation.
At 11 a.m. EDT on Sept. 24, Matthew's maximum sustained winds were near 50 mph, and strengthening is expected in the warm Caribbean waters, so the National Hurricane Center said that Matthew could become a hurricane by Saturday. Meanwhile at 11 a.m. Sept. 24, Matthew was located about 80 miles east of Cabo Gracias a Dios, Nicaragua, near 14.4 North and 82.2 West. It was moving west at 20 mph, and had a minimum central pressure of 1001 millibars. Just 15 hours before, its minimum central pressure was 1005 millibars, and a drop in pressure indicates a strengthening storm.
A hurricane watch is in effect for Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua to Limon, Honduras including the offshore islands. A tropical storm warning is in effect for Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua to Limon, Honduras including the offshore islands.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua northward to the border with Honduras including the offshore islands and the coast of Honduras including the offshore islands. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the coast of Belize, while a hurricane watch is in effect for Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua to Limon, Honduras. Hurricane conditions are possible between 11 p.m. EDT tonight and 11 a.m. EDT Saturday in that watch area.
Tropical storm-force winds are expected to reach the coastal warning areas during the afternoon of Sept. 24, and a storm surge is expected to produce flooding and dangerous surf. Expected rainfall amounts of 6 to 10 inches are forecast with isolated amounts to 15 inches.
According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, on the forecast track the center of the Matthew is expected to be near the Nicaragua/Honduras border late Friday or early Saturday morning then move over land in northern Honduras on Saturday. Updates on Matthew can be found at the National Hurricane Center's web page: www.nhc.noaa.gov.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
, Greenbelt, Md.
September 23, 2010
GOES-13 Sees Tropical Depression 15 Form in the South-Central Caribbean Sea
The fifteenth tropical depression of the Atlantic Ocean season has formed in the south-central Caribbean Sea, and the GOES-13 satellite captured its swirling mass of clouds and showers in a visible image today. Watches and warnings are already up for Central America.
At 2 p.m. EDT today, Sept. 23, Tropical Depression 15 had maximum sustained winds near 35 mph. It was located about 485 miles east of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, near 13.9 North and 76.2 West. It was moving west at 15 mph, and had a minimum central pressure of 1007 millibars.
The government of Nicaragua has issued a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch from Puerto Cabezas northward to the border with Honduras, including the offshore islands. The government of Honduras has issued a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch from the Nicaragua/Honduras border westward to Limon including the offshore islands.
The latest satellite imagery from the GOES-13 satellite (the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) at 1445 UTC (10:45 a.m. EDT) on Sept. 23 shows Tropical Depression 15 as a rounded circulation in the south-central Caribbean. Tropical Depression 15 is also over very warm waters, well over the 80 degree Fahrenheit threshold needed to power a tropical cyclone. That means that it will have the fuel to strengthen, and the National Hurricane Center forecasts that it would become a tropical storm pretty in the next day.
GOES-13 is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and images are created by NASA's GOES Project, located at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md.
Nicaragua, Honduras, eastern Guatemala, Belize and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula should all be making preparations for this storm.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
, Greenbelt, Md.