December 17, 2018 – NASA’s Aqua and GPM Satellites Examine Tropical Cyclone Kenanga
On December 16 and 17, NASA’s GPM core observatory satellite and NASA’s Aqua satellite, respectively, passed over the Southern Indian Ocean and captured rainfall and temperature data on Tropical Cyclone Kenanga.
Kenanga formed on Dec. 15 about 1,116 miles east of Diego Garcia, and strengthened into a tropical storm.
When the Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite passed overhead, the rainfall rates it gathered were derived from the satellite’s Microwave Imager (GMI) instrument. GPM provided a close-up analysis of rainfall around tropical cyclone Kenanga. Data from GPM’s microwave Imager (GMI) and Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) were used in this analysis. DPR found that a powerful storm northeast of Kenanga’s center of circulation was dropping rain at a rate of over 119 mm (4.7 inches) per hour.
At NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, imagery and animations were created using GPM data. A 3-D animation used GPM’s radar to show the structure of precipitation within tropical Cyclone Kenanga. The simulated flyby around Kenanga showed storm tops that were reaching heights above 13.5 km (8.4 miles). GPM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.
On Dec. 17 at 3:05 a.m. EST (0805 UTC), the AIRS or Atmospheric Infrared Sounder instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite provided an infrared look at Tropical Cyclone Kenanga. Coldest cloud top temperatures were near 63 degrees Fahrenheit (53 degrees Celsius) and indicated where strongest storms appeared. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center or JTWC noted “animated enhanced infrared satellite imagery depicts a central dense overcast feature with a formative eye. Another image shows a compact system with curved banding wrapping into an oblong microwave eye feature.”
On Dec. 17 at 10 a.m. EST (1500 UTC), maximum sustained winds were near 60 knots. Kenanga was centered near 12.8 degrees south latitude and 86.0 degrees east longitude, approximately 885 nautical miles east-southeast of Diego Garcia. Kenanga has tracked west-southwestward.
A 3-D animation used GPM’s radar to show the structure of precipitation within tropical cyclone Kenanga. This simulated flyby around Kenanga shows storm tops that were reaching heights above 13.5 km (8.4 miles). The GPM core satellite found that a powerful storm northeast of Kenanga’s center of circulation was dropping rain at a rate of over 119 mm (4.7 inches) per hour. Credit: NASA /JAXA, Hal Pierce
JTWC forecasters expect Kenanga to continue strengthening for the next two days and then conditions will deteriorate. After three days the storm is forecast to begin weakening as it interacts with cooler, drier air.
By Harold F. Pierce / Rob Gutro
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center