Featured Images

Text Size

Hurricane Season 2011: Tropical Cyclone Bingiza (South Indian Ocean)
02.22.11
 
February 22, 2011

NASA's TRMM Satellite Sees Tropical Cyclone Bingiza's Deadly Rainfall

This rainfall analysis was constructed at Goddard and used TRMM satellite calibrated estimates collected in real time.› View larger image
Credit: SSAI/NASA
Tropical cyclone Bingiza hit Madagascar on February 14, 2011 as a powerful category three tropical cyclone causing flooding, at least 6 deaths and the destruction of many homes. The rainfall analysis above was constructed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. and used Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite calibrated estimates from all available satellite data collected in "real time." As shown on the overlaid storm track, Bingiza hugged the western coast of Madagascar from February 15-17, 2011 before dissipating over the southern center of the island. The very highest rainfall totals were estimated to be over 300 mm (~11.8 inches) off the southeastern coast. Rainfall totals of over 250 mm (~10 inches) were located both over the northwestern and southeastern corners of Madagascar. These high totals were compounded first by Bingiza's circulation moving moisture over land from the Mozambique Channel over northwestern Madagascar and then from the Indian Ocean as the storm moved inland to the southeast.

Text Credit:Hal Pierce/SSAINASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


February 18, 2011

Image of former Tropical Storm Bingiza, taken on Feb. 18 by AIRS. The remnants of System 98S can be seen to the top left.› View larger image
This infrared image of former Tropical Storm Bingiza, taken on Feb. 18 at 1005 UTC (5:05 a.m. EST) from the AIRS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite shows the bulk of precipitation (blue and purple) east of southeastern Madagascar and over the Southern Indian Ocean. The remnants of System 98S (blue) can be seen to the top left. The purple areas indicate the strongest thunderstorms. Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen
NASA Satellite Sees Former Tropical Cyclone Bingiza Move into Open Ocean

NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the remnants of Tropical Storm Bingiza earlier today, Feb. 18 and infrared imagery showed the strongest thunderstorms and heaviest rainfall had moved east of southeastern Madagascar. The low pressure area formerly known as Bingiza is now over the open waters of the Southern Indian Ocean.

In infrared imagery of former Tropical Storm Bingiza, taken on Feb. 18 at 1005 UTC (5:05 a.m. EST) from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument the bulk of precipitation from the storm was falling over open waters. AIRS is an instrument that flies onboard NASA's Aqua satellite and it showed the heaviest rainfall was occurring east of southeastern Madagascar and over the Southern Indian Ocean.

When AIRS flew over Bingiza on Feb. 18, there were still some high, cold cloud tops within the system. Some of those cloud tops were so high they were as cold as or colder than -52 Celsius (-63 Fahrenheit). Cloud tops that cold indicate that some strong convection (rapidly rising air that forms the thunderstorms that power a tropical cyclone) was still occurring in the system.

That same satellite overpass captured the remnants of a low pressure area known as System 98S, which is located northeast of Bingiza and far to the east of northern Madagascar.

After the coming weekend, Bingiza will likely be a memory in the Southern Indian Ocean.

Text Credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.


February 17, 2011

TRMM image of Bingiza› View larger image
NASA's TRMM satellite saw moderate to heavy rainfall, falling at a rate of over 2 inches/50 mm per hour (in red) in a small area near Bingiza's center of circulation on Feb. 16, 2011. Credit: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce
NASA Sees Heavy Rains in Tropical Storm Bingiza, Possibly Headed for Second Landfall

NASA satellite data indicates that Bingiza is still maintaining tropical storm intensity and carrying heavy rainfall over the Mozambique Channel as it prepares for its second landfall in Madagascar.

Deadly Tropical Cyclone Bingiza, which crossed over northern Madagascar three days ago, has continued to affect Madagascar while moving along Madagascar's west coast. Bingiza had weakened from a powerful category 3 tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 100 kts (~115 mph/185 kmh) to tropical storm force winds of about 35 kts (~40 mph/65 kmh) when the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite passed almost directly overhead on February 16, 2011 at 1911 UTC (2:11 p.m. EST).

TRMM data was used to create an image of Bingiza's rainfall. The analysis used TRMM's Microwave Imager (TMI) and Precipitation Radar (PR) data. At that time, Bingiza was approaching Madagascar from the Mozambique Channel with additional moderate to heavy rainfall (over 2 inches/50 mm per hour). Extremely heavy rainfall was revealed to be located in a small area near Bingiza's center of circulation.

On February 17 at 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST), Bingiza's maximum sustained winds were near 40 knots (46 mph/74 kmh) with higher gusts. It was about 220 nautical miles west-southwest of Antananarivo, Madagascar, near 21.0 South and 43.7 East. Bingiza was moving south at 7 knots (8 mph/13 kmh).

Multispectral satellite imagery showed that Bingiza still has strong bands of thunderstorms wrapping around it from the northwest into the southeast quadrant. The low-level center of circulation is partially exposed to outside winds, however. Exposure to outside winds leaves the storm vulnerable for weakening.

A low to mid-level ridge (elongated area of high pressure) located to the northeast of Bingiza is what's guiding it southward, and then it is forecast to track along the ridge and move southeastward in the next day taking it near or over land. Some models show that the storm may meander and remain over water while others take it inland. Whether it stays near the coast or moves inland, Bingiza is still forecast to weaken and is expected to dissipate by the weekend.

Text Credit: Rob Gutro/Hal Pierce, SSAI/NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.


February 16, 2011

AIRS image of Bingiza› View larger image
The AIRS instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm Bingiza today, Feb. 16 at 10:17 UTC (5:17 a.m. EST) that showed some strong convection (purple) over the west-central coast where thunderstorm cloud-tops were high and dropping moderate to heavy rainfall. Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen
NASA Satellite Sees Tropical Storm Bingiza Hugging the Western Madagascar Coastline

Infrared satellite data from NASA is showing some strong thunderstorms over west-central Madagascar today as Tropical Storm Bingiza continues to hug the western coast of the island nation.

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm Bingiza today, Feb. 16 at 10:17 UTC (5:17 a.m. EST). The image revealed some strong convection over the west-central coast where thunderstorm cloudtops were high and dropping moderate to heavy rainfall. Infrared data can provide temperature information to scientists, which is important as the higher the cloud top, the colder it is, and the stronger the thunderstorm. Cloud top temperatures as cold as or colder than -52 degrees Celsius (-63 Fahrenheit) were evident in today's AIRS data, suggesting strong thunderstorms still existed, despite Bingiza's weakening over the last 24 hours.

At 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST) on Feb. 16, Tropical storm Bingiza's maximum sustained winds were near 35 knots (40 mph/64 kmh). It was centered just off-shore from the town of Tambohorano, Madagascar. That's about 200 miles west-northwest of Antananarivo, near 17.4 South and 43.9 East. The eastern half of Tropical Storm Bingiza was over land, while the western half remained over the Mozambique Channel.

At 12 p.m. EST on Feb. 16, rainfall from Bingiza stretched from Mahajanga in the north through Veromanga to Itondy in the south. Tambohorano, a town located along the western coast reported light rainfall at that time.

Bingiza continues to move to the south-southwest near 5 knots and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecast suggests that Bingiza will move inland over southern Madagascar in the next couple of days where it will dissipate.

Text Credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.


February 15, 2011

AIRS infrared image showing cold thunderstorm cloud tops (purple) to the north and west of Tropical Storm Bingiza › View larger image
NASA's Aqua satellite captured cold thunderstorm cloud tops (purple) to the north and west of the center of Tropical Storm Bingiza in this infrared image of Feb. 15 at 11:11 UTC.
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
AIRS visible image of Tropical Storm Bingiza; the African mainland is on the left and Madagascar is on the right. › View larger image
NASA's Aqua satellite captured this visible image of Tropical Storm Bingiza (center) on Feb. 15 at 11:11 UTC. The African mainland is seen on the left of the image, and Madagascar mostly hidden by Bingiza's clouds on the right.
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
NASA Satellite See Most of Cyclone Bingiza's Rainfall Over Mozambique Channel

Infrared data from NASA's AIRS instrument revealed that the low level center of Cyclone Bingiza was still over land in western Madagascar this morning, but the bulk of its rainfall was over the Mozambique Channel.

When NASA's Aqua satellite flew over Madagascar this morning, Feb. 15 at 11:11 UTC (6:11 a.m. EST), the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument read the temperatures of the cold thunderstorm cloud tops in Cyclone Bingiza. Most of the strongest thunderstorms were north and west of the center of circulation already over the Mozambique Channel, while Bingiza's center remains over the western part of the island nation.

At 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST) on Feb. 15, Tropical Cyclone Bingiza had maximum sustained winds near 35 knots (40 mph/64 kmh) so it was still a tropical storm. It was centered about 180 miles (289 km) north-northwest of Antananarivo, Madagascar, near 16.4 South and 45.2 East. It was moving west near 10 knots (11 mph/18 kmh).

At 1 a.m. EST (0600 UTC) Majunga, Madagascar reported north winds at 17 knots (20 mph/31 kmh) and an atmospheric pressure of 997 millibars. Majunga is a seaport city, a district, and a province on the northwest coast of Madagascar. Mahajanga is the capital city of the Boeny region as well as the Mahajanga Province.

Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center expect Bingiza to move entirely into the eastern Mozambique Channel later today. A trough (elongated area) of low pressure will then push Bingiza parallel to the western coastline of Madagascar and forecasters expect the warm waters of the Channel and the low wind shear to allow it to re-strengthen. Bingiza is expected to turn toward the east and make a second landfall in southwestern Madagascar later this week.

Text Credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.



February 14, 2011

AIRS shows northern Madagascar covered by Bingiza › View larger image
This infrared satellite image of Cyclone Bingiza from Feb. 14 at 10:23 UTC (5:23 a.m. EST) shows northern Madagascar covered by the storm. Although the storm is still at hurricane strength, no eye is visible in this infrared image. Strongest thunderstorms and coldest (-63F/-52C), highest cloud tops appear in purple. Bingiza is moving west and entering the Mozambique Channel.
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
AIRS shows the progression of Tropical Cyclone Bingiza over the weekend of Feb. 12-13 › View larger image
This series of infrared satellite imagery from the AIRS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite shows the progression of Tropical Cyclone Bingiza over the weekend of Feb. 12-13. On February 12 at 21:35 UTC, Bingiza's center was still at sea, and an eye was visible. On Feb. 13 at 0947 UTC, AIRS noticed the western edge of Bingiza over northeastern Madagascar and the storm appears to be expanding. On Feb. 13 at 22:17 UTC, Bingiza's center was on the northeastern coastline and it was making landfall.
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
MODIS captured these two images of Cyclone Bingiza before and after it crossed northern Madagascar on Feb. 13 › View larger image
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument that flies aboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites captured these two images of Cyclone Bingiza before and after it crossed northern Madagascar on Feb. 13 at 0700 UTC (left) and 14 at 1035 UTC (right), respectively.
Credit: NASA/Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team
NASA Satellites See Cyclone Bingiza Move Across Northern Madagascar

Tropical Cyclone Bingiza has made landfall in northeastern Madagascar, and NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites captured visible infrared satellite data of the storm's progression over the weekend, revealing the power behind the storm.

The movement and landfall of Tropical Cyclone Bingiza was captured over the weekend of Feb. 12-13 in a series of infrared satellite imagery from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite. Aqua and Terra provided companion visible images to the infrared images of Bingiza's track across northern Madagascar.

On February 12 at 21:35 UTC (4:35 p.m. EST or 12:35 a.m. on Feb. 13 Madagascar local time) Cyclone Bingiza's center was still at sea, and an eye was visible indicating that the cyclone had strengthened. Madagascar time is GMT time plus three hours. On Feb. 13 at 0947 UTC (4:47 EST) AIRS noticed the western edge of Bingiza was already bringing rainfall and gusty winds over northeastern Madagascar and the storm appeared to be expanding. A large band of thunderstorms had developed and were wrapped around the outer eastern edge of the cyclone at that time. On Feb. 13 at 22:17 UTC (5:17 p.m. EST), Bingiza's center was on the northeastern coastline and it was making landfall. The center of Cyclone Bingiza made landfall today, Feb. 14 at 0600 UTC (1 a.m. EST) after moving across the Masoala Peninsula and skirting Antongil Bay.

In all of these data, there were large areas of very cold cloud tops, as cold as or colder than -63 Fahrenheit (-52 Celsius). Those areas indicated strong thunderstorms, strong convection (rapidly rising air that forms those thunderstorms) and heavy rainfall.

Today, Feb. 14 at 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST), Cyclone Bingiza had maximum sustained winds of 85 knots (98 mph / 157 kmh) over land. It was located about 250 nautical miles (287 miles/463 km) northeast of Antananarivo, Madagascar, near 16.0 South and 49.3 East. It was moving westward near 8 knots (9 mph/15 kmh).

Currently there are warnings posted for Malagasy. Heavy rainfall is expected to be the main hazard for northern Madagascar.

This morning's (Feb. 14) infrared AIRS satellite image from 10:23 UTC (5:23 a.m. EST) shows northern Madagascar covered by the storm. It also showed that Bingiza remained well-organized with tightly-curved convective thunderstorm banding wrapping into a well-defined low-level circulation center. It continues to draw energy from the warm waters of the Southern Indian Ocean.

Although the storm was still at hurricane strength at that time, no eye was visible in the infrared image. The strongest thunderstorms and coldest (-63F/-52C), highest cloud tops were over north central Madagascar and over the Mozambique Channel. The imagery also showed that the western edge of Bingiza was already over the Mozambique Channel. AIRS images are created at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif.

At NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. the MODIS Rapid Response Team created visible images of Bingiza on Feb. 13 and 14. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument that flies aboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites captured two images of Cyclone Bingiza before and after it crossed northern Madagascar on Feb. 13 and 14 respectively. The image on Feb. 13 showed an eye in the storm's center which disappeared after Bingiza made landfall.

The forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center expect Bingiza to continue tracking west-southwestward over land over the next 36 hours while rapidly weakening. The storm is expected to track over northern Madagascar and by Feb. 16 it will move into the Mozambique Channel where it is expected to regenerate in the warm waters (30 degrees Celsius) and low wind shear. Once in the Channel, forecasters expect that it will be steered southwestward to southward.

Forecasts currently differ on the end Bingiza's life. Some models predict a second landfall in southern Madagascar right now, while others keep the storm at sea.

Text Credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.



This is a 3-D cross section of Cyclone Bingiza derived from TRMM's Precipitation Radar data. › View larger image
This is a 3-D cross section of Cyclone Bingiza derived from TRMM's Precipitation Radar data. Red areas are heavy rainfall at almost 2 inches (50 mm) per hour.
Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce
TRMM's rainfall rates of Tropical Storm Bingiza; yellow and green areas indicate moderate rainfall between .78 to 1.57 inches/hour. › View larger image
TRMM captured the rainfall rates of Tropical Storm Bingiza on Feb. 14, 2011 at 0454 UTC (Feb. 13 at 11:54 p.m. EST). The yellow and green areas indicate moderate rainfall between .78 to 1.57 inches (20-40 mm) per hour. Red areas are heavy rainfall at almost 2 inches (50 mm) per hour.
Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce
NASA's TRMM Satellite Sees Bingiza Hit Madagascar

NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite passed over tropical cyclone Bingiza when it was moving over the coast of northeastern Madagascar on the morning of February 14, 2011 at 0454 UTC (Feb. 13 at 11:54 p.m. EST).

Bingiza had top sustained wind speeds estimated to be in excess of 85 kts (~98 mph) at that time. Bingiza is expected to cause deadly flooding, landslides and other damage as it moves toward the southwest over northern Madagascar. The rainfall analysis on the upper left was made using data from TRMM's Microwave Imager (TMI) and Precipitation Radar (PR). Those data show a large area of moderate to heavy rainfall (falling at up to 2 inches/50 mm per hour) with particularly intense thunderstorms being located around Bingiza's eye.

TRMM rainfall data was also used to make a 3-D cross section of Bingiza derived from TRMM's Precipitation Radar data. TRMM is managed by both NASA and the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA. For more information about TRMM, visit: http://trmm.gsfc.nasa.gov.

Text Credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.


















February 11, 2011

An area of heavy thunderstorms surrounded the center  of Bingiza (purple), but that convection is currently waning. › View larger image
NASA's AIRS data showed that the western edge of Tropical Storm Bingiza's clouds over northeastern Madagascar in this image from Feb. 19 at 21:47 UTC (4:47 p.m. EST). An area of heavy thunderstorms surrounded the center (purple) but that convection is currently waning.
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
NASA Sees Tropical Storm Bingiza Hovering Over Northeastern Madagascar

NASA's Aqua satellite captured an image from its Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that showed the western edge of Tropical Storm Bingiza already over northeastern Madagascar. Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center expect the storm to move inland just south of Antananarivo on Sunday or Monday, Feb. 13 or 14.

AIRS data showed that the western edge of Tropical Storm Bingiza over northeastern Madagascar in an infrared image captured on Feb. 19 at 21:47 UTC (4:47 p.m. EST). An area of strong thunderstorms northwest of the center of circulation was over open waters and cloud tops were as cold as or colder than -63F/-52C. Accompanying those thunderstorms were heavy rainfall, mostly over open ocean.

AIRS infrared imagery also revealed that the deepest/strongest convection is now growing weaker in the storm and the low-level circulation center is partially exposed. Because of wind shear, the strongest convection is northwest of the center. The wind shear and weakening of convection is a result of an upper level trough (elongated area of) low pressure.

The northeastern towns of Antisiranana, Milanoa, Marojala, Ambinanitelo were all seeing clouds and some rainfall from Bingiza's western edge on February 11. Those areas will experience rainfall over the next day or two as Bingiza moves south-southwest. Rough surf is also likely in coastal areas.

At 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST) on Feb. 11, Tropical Storm Bingiza had maximum sustained winds near 45 knots (52 mph/ 83 kmh). Its center was about 485 nautical miles (558 miles/898 km) northeast of Antananarivo, near 14.2 South latitude and 53.7 East longitude. In the six hours prior to that time, Bingiza was quasi-stationary. The upper level trough that is currently weakening Bingiza is expected to move away, so Bingiza will begin tracking southwest over the weekend and slowly intensify. Forecasters expect Bingiza to reach hurricane/cyclone status before making landfall in eastern Madagascar.

Text Credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.



February 10, 2011

MODIS captured this image of Tropical Storm Bingiza on its approach to Madagascar. › View larger image
The MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite captured this image of Tropical Storm Bingiza at 06:30 UTC (1:30 a.m. EST) on its approach to Madagascar (left). The highest, strongest thunderstorms appear almost bubble-like near the center of the storm's circulation.
Credit: NASA/Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team
TRMM captured the rainfall rates of Tropical Storm Bingiza on Feb. 10 at 06:39 UTC (1:39 a.m. EST). › View larger image
TRMM captured the rainfall rates of Tropical Storm Bingiza on Feb. 10 at 06:39 UTC (1:39 a.m. EST). The rainfall appears to be around the entire storm with the exception of the south and southeastern quadrants. The yellow and green areas indicate moderate rainfall between .78 to 1.57 inches per hour. Red areas are heavy rainfall at almost 2 inches per hour.
Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce
Two NASA Satellites See a Newborn Tropical Storm Near Madagascar

Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center were keeping a close eye on a low pressure area known as System 94S yesterday, and satellite data helped confirm that today it has strengthened into Tropical Storm Bingiza.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite captured this image of Tropical Storm Bingiza at 06:30 UTC (1:30 a.m. EST) on its approach to Madagascar. The highest, strongest thunderstorms appeared almost bubble-like near the center of the storm's circulation.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Satellite also flew over the storm and using microwave data and precipitation radar measured the rainfall rates happening throughout the storm.

TRMM captured the rainfall rates of Tropical Storm Bingiza on Feb. 10 at 06:39 UTC (1:39 a.m. EST). A precipitation analysis from TRMM's Microwave Imager (TMI) and Precipitation Radar (PR) data shows that the intensifying storm had a fairly large area of moderate rainfall, falling at a rate between .78 to 1.57 inches (20 to 40 mm) per hour. The rainfall appeared to be around the entire storm with the exception of the south and southeastern quadrants.

Multispectral satellite imagery shows that the low-level circulation center is well-defined. There is also strong convection wrapping around the northern edge of the center, which is where TRMM saw most of the rainfall occurring.

At 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST) on Feb. 10, Tropical Storm Bingiza had maximum sustained winds near 45 knots (52 mph/83 kmh). It was about 460 miles (740 km) north of La Reunion, near 13.6 South and 54.4 East. It was creeping slowing to the northwest near 1 knot (1 mph/2 kmh).

Tropical Storm Bingiza is intensifying slowly and is expected to meander slowly over the next couple of days. Over the weekend, Bingiza is expected to move southwest once a sub-tropical ridge (elongated area) of high pressure builds in. It is also forecast to strengthen and move toward central Madagascar. Currently a landfall is not expected until early next week in central Madagascar.

Text Credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.





February 9, 2011

TRMM's revealed that some intense thunderstorms reached heights above 9.3 miles. › View larger image
TRMM's Precipitation Radar (PR) revealed that some of these intense thunderstorms reached heights above 15 km (9.3 miles). These "hot towers" contain the heaviest rains and can act to provide energy for development of tropical cyclones.
Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce
94S was near Madagascar in the South Indian Ocean on February 8 and TRMM satellite revealed heavy rainfall. › View larger image
System 94S was near Madagascar in the South Indian Ocean on February 8 at 2144 UTC (4:44 p.m. EST) and NASA's TRMM satellite revealed strong convection and heavy rainfall. The yellow and green areas indicate moderate rainfall between .78 to 1.57 inches per hour. Red areas are heavy rainfall at almost 2 inches per hour.
Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce
NASA's TRMM Satellite Sees Possible Cyclone Development Near Madagascar

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite has been effective in detecting and monitoring tropical cyclone development in the global tropics. The TRMM satellite passed over an area of potential tropical cyclone development called System 94S near Madagascar in the South Indian Ocean on February 8, 2011 at 2144 UTC (4:44 p.m. EST) and revealed strong convection and heavy rainfall.

Data from TRMM's Microwave Imager (TMI) and Precipitation Radar (PR) instruments showed that an area of powerful thunderstorms was located near the center of this area of low pressure. There were some isolated areas of heavy rainfall where rain was falling at about 2 inches (50 mm) per hour. However, most of the rain was moderate, falling at rates between 20 and 40 millimeters (.78 to 1.57 inches) per hour.

TRMM's Precipitation Radar (PR) revealed that some of these intense thunderstorms reached heights above 9.3 miles (15 km). These "hot towers" contain the heaviest rains and can act to provide energy for development of tropical cyclones.

On February 9 at 1500 UTC (10 a.m. EST), System 94S was about 435 miles north of La Reunion, near 13.9 South latitude and 55.1 East longitude. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasters give this low pressure area a good chance for development into a tropical depression in the next 24 hours.

The TRMM satellite is managed by both NASA and the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA.

Text Credit: Hal Pierce, NASA/SSAI