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Niko (Southern Pacific Ocean)
January 23, 2015

NASA Sees Tropical Cyclone Niko Being Sheared Apart

[image-87]NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite flew over Tropical Cyclone Niko and provided forecasters with an infrared view of how wind shear is pushing the storm apart.

When Suomi NPP passed over Niko on Jan. 23 at 9:58 UTC (4:58 a.m. EST) the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite or VIIRS instrument aboard captured an infrared image of the storm. The infrared data shows temperature, an indicated that the strongest thunderstorms with the coldest cloud top temperatures were pushing thunderstorms about 60 nautical miles southeast of the center.

VIIRS is a scanning radiometer that collects visible and infrared imagery and "radiometric" measurements. Basically it means that VIIRS data is used to measure cloud and aerosol properties, ocean color, sea and land surface temperature, ice motion and temperature, fires, and Earth's albedo (reflected light).

The Suomi NPP data was confirmed by data taken by the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSMI) instrument that flies aboard various Defense Meteorological Satellite Program polar-orbiting satellites. The SSMI data showed that the only precipitation and thunderstorms associated with Niko was southeast of the low-level center.

According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), on Jan. 23, 2015 at 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST), Tropical Cyclone Niko's maximum sustained winds were near 55 knots (63.2 mph/101.9 kph). It was centered near 18.1 south latitude and 147.6 west longitude, about 390 nautical miles (448 miles/722 km) southeast of Papeete, Tahiti, Southern Pacific Ocean. Niko was moving to the south-southeast at 8 knots (9.2 mph/14.8 kph).

JTWC forecasters expect the subtropical ridge located west of Niko to strengthen and force the tropical cyclone further south over the next several days. JTWC forecasters noted that Niko may also strengthen briefly before running into increased vertical wind shear and cooler waters which will end the life of the storm sometime on Sunday, January 25.

Rob Gutro
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland


Jan. 22, 2015 - NASA Sees Tropical Cyclone Niko's Romp Through Society

[image-69]After making its social debut in the Southern Pacific Ocean, NASA's Aqua satellite spotted Tropical Cyclone Niko moving through the Society Islands. 

NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Cyclone Niko on Jan. 21 at 4:35 p.m. EST and the MODIS instrument aboard captured a visible image of the storm.  The MODIS images shows that the storm remains compact, while the strongest thunderstorms are pushed to the southeast of the center by northwesterly vertical wind shear. 

On Jan. 22 at 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST), Tropical Cyclone Niko's maximum sustained winds were near 50 knots (57.5 mph/92.6 kph) and strengthening. Niko was centered near 18.1 south latitude and 147.6 west longitude, about 120 nautical miles (138.1 miles/222.2 km) east-southeast of Papeete, Tahiti. Niko was moving to the southeast at 12 knots (13.8 mph/22.2 kph).

Niko is moving broadly southeast and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecast calls for the storm to intensify to a minimal hurricane with maximum sustained winds to 65 knots (74.8 mph/120.4 kph) on Jan. 23, before cooler waters help cause its dissipation.

Rob Gutro
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


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Jan. 21, 2015 - GOES-West Captures Birth of Tropical Cyclone Niko in Southern Pacific

NOAA's GOES-West satellite captured the birth of Tropical Cyclone Niko in the Southern Pacific Ocean near French Polynesia.

NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites or GOES-West satellite sits in a geostationary orbit over the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Geostationary describes an orbit in which a satellite is always in the same position with respect to the rotating Earth. This allows GOES to hover continuously over one position on Earth's surface, appearing stationary. As a result, GOES provide a constant vigil for the atmospheric "triggers" for severe weather conditions such as tornadoes, flash floods, hail storms and hurricanes.

Infrared data taken from GOES-West on Jan. 21 at 1500 UTC (10 a.m. EST) was made into an image at NASA/NOAA's GOES Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The infrared image showed bands of thunderstorms in the eastern quadrant wrapping into the low-level center. 

At 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST) on Jan. 21, Niko had maximum sustained winds near 45 knots (51.7 mph/83.3 kph) and appears to be intensifying. Niko was just 151 nautical miles (172 .9 miles/279.8 km) north of Papeete, Tahiti, near 15.0 south and 149.9 west. The tropical storm was moving to the south-southeast at 7 knots (8 mph/12.9 kph).

Over the next two days, Niko is expected to pass east of Tahiti, which is located within the Society Islands, which are part of French Polynesia. French Polynesia is made up of 118 islands and atolls that cover more than 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) in the South Pacific Ocean. 

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecast calls for Niko to strengthen into a hurricane after passing Tahiti on its way south into the open waters of the South Pacific Ocean.

Rob Gutro
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

GOES-West image of Niko
The GOES-West satellite on Jan. 21 at 10 a.m. EST showed bands of thunderstorms in Niko's eastern quadrant wrapping into the center. This full-disk view shows the storm location in the Southern Pacific.
Image Credit: 
NASA/NOAA GOES Project
Image Token: 
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MODIS image of Niko
NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Cyclone Niko when it was moving through the Society Islands on Jan. 21 at 4:35 p.m. EST.
Image Credit: 
NASA's Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team
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infrared view of Niko from Suomi NPP
When NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP passed over Niko on Jan. 23 at 9:58 UTC (4:58 a.m. EST) it took this infrared image that showed wind shear was pushing thunderstorms southeast of the center.
Image Credit: 
NRL/NASA/NOAA
Image Token: 
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Page Last Updated: January 23rd, 2015
Page Editor: Lynn Jenner