Three Different Typhoons Spun in the Western Pacific -- Two Remain
Hurricane Season 2006: Saomai (Pacific)
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 Saomai Makes Landfall in China
Typhoon Saomai made landfall in China today, Aug. 10, in the southeastern
province of Zhejiang, hitting Cangnan county just after a state of emergency
was declared, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. Saomai was a
Category 4 "super typhoon" and the strongest to hit China in half a century.
Early news reports indicate 1,000 homes destroyed, 2 deaths, 80 injured and
hundreds of thousands forced from their homes.
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 and earn a name: Saomai, which is the Vietnamese name for the
planet Venus. The storm continued to gather strength, becoming a typhoon on
This photo-like image was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging
Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite on August 10, 2006, at 1:05
p.m. local time (05:05 UTC). Click image to enlarge.
Typhoon Saomai possessed a well-defined, closed
(cloud-filled) eye at the center of the storm, with tightly wound spiral arms.
Thunderstorm systems particularly close to the eyewall were sending up tall
cloud towers, which cast shadows onto the surrounding lower clouds (see large,
full-resolution image). Around the time MODIS captured this image, Typhoon
Saomai had sustained winds of around 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per
hour), according to the University of Hawaii's Tropical Storm Information
Center. Credit: NASA GSFC MODIS Rapid Response Team/Jeff Schmaltz
3 Views of Super Typhoon Saomai from NASA's AIRS Satellite Instrument
NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite
captured three different views of Super Typhoon Saomai on August 10, 2006.
Saomai was labeled a "super typhoon" by Chinese forecasters because of its huge
size and high wind speed.
According to Xinhua, China's news agency, the Zhejiang provincial weather bureau
said that Saomai was the most powerful typhoon to hit China in 50 years, as it
made landfall on the southeastern coast. Saomai destroyed over 1,000 homes and
1.5 million people fled the storm in advance. Torrential rains were forecast in
the next three days as the typhoon churned inland across crowded areas.
Left Image: Where is Saomai's Highest, Coldest Cloud Tops?
This is an infrared image of Typhoon Saomai from the Atmospheric Infrared
Sounder (AIRS) on NASA's Aqua satellite on August 10, 2006. Infrared light is
so red humans cannot see it. Infrared is a band of the electromagnetic spectrum
between the visible and the microwave.
This AIRS image shows the temperature of the cloud tops or the surface of the
Earth in cloud-free regions. The lowest temperatures (in purple) are associated
with high, cold cloud tops that make up the top of the typhoon. The infrared
signal does not penetrate through clouds. Where there are no clouds the AIRS
instrument reads the infrared signal from the surface of the Earth, revealing
warmer temperatures (red).
Right Image: Where is Saomai's Heaviest Rainfall?
The second image is created from microwave radiation emitted by Earth's
atmosphere and received by the instrument. It shows where the heaviest rainfall
is taking place (in blue) in the storm. Blue areas outside of the storm where
there are either some clouds or no clouds, indicate where the sea surface
This is an image of Typhoon Saomai captured by the visible light / near-infrared
sensor on the AIRS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite. At the time the data
were taken from which these images were made, the Typhoon Saomai was nearly
on-shore in China with winds of 130 mph, and the storm had a well developed
Image Credit: NASA/JPL. Caption Credit: NASA/JPL
(+ Large Version of Top Left Image
| + Large Version of Top Right Image
| + Larger Version of Bottom Center Image
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, and continued to grow, becoming a category 1 typhoon a day later. Just as Saomai crossed the threshold to typhoon status, a tropical depression formed in the same general area, reaching storm status on August 7 when it was named Bopha. As of August 9, Bopha and Saomai were both heading roughly west, with Bopha projected to pass directly over Taiwan while Saomai would pass north of the island before making landfall on the Asian mainland.
This photo-like image (above right) was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite on August 9 2006, at 10:05 a.m. local time (02:05 UTC). Click image to enlarge.
Bopha has developed a strong cyclonic shape with intense thunderstorms around its center, even though the storm system does not have a well-developed eye. Typhoon Saomai appears similar in size here, but it is a much more powerful storm. At the time of this image, Bopha had sustained peak winds of roughly 82 kilometers per hour (52 miles per hour), while Typhoon Saomai had sustained winds of around 140 km/hr (85 mph), according to the University of Hawaii’s Tropical Storm information center. + High resolution image
Credit: NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center.
Active Storms in the Pacific
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.