There are certain things you can count on seeing in October. Great post-season baseball! Pumpkin flavored everything! Halloween! Super Typhoons?! To celebrate the successful launch of Himawari-8 from Japan last night, I thought it would be appropriate to post on this latest super typhoon.
Super Typhoon Vongfong has intensified impressively in the last 24 hours after passing through the Marianas Islands yesterday as a Category 2 typhoon with winds ~105 mph. As of 1500 UTC, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center initialized Vongfong as a 135 kt (155 mph) super typhoon and the Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB) of NESDIS classified it as a T7.0, which would support Category 5 winds. Since that time, there has been a slight warming of the cloud tops surrounding the eye, but there is no strong indication of an eyewall replacement cycle, yet. It’s possible that Vongfong may still strenghten some in the next 12-24 hours.
The satellite animation above shows Vongfong’s rapid organization overnight with intermittent lightning bursts in the eyewall during the rapid intensification. Typically, hurricanes and typhoons don’t exhibit much lightning due to the lack of convective available potential energy (CAPE) and dry air near the strongest thunderstorms. During intense thunderstorm growth, most notably in the outer rain bands, there can be some graupel (soft hail/snowballs) which supports lightning, but the inner core is usually quieter (of course, this varies based on basin). We have seen this before in the West Pacific (see posts on Haiyan and Rammasun).
The two microwave image passes above show the convective structure of Vongfong under the clouds where the red coloring indicates heavier precipitation or convection. These high resolution microwaves images are used by JTWC, SAB, and the National Hurricane Center when classification are being made, especially for fixing the initial center positions.
Another interesting way of looking at the microwave imagery is with lightning overlaid. The lightning strikes for the previous 30 minutes were overlaid on this 0719 UTC Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) satellite pass. As you can see, the lightning matches up quite well with the red colorings (convection). Notice the lightning cluster in the southeast eyewall!
Finally, this incredible Day-Night Band (DNB) image was captured by the S-NPP satellite this afternoon. That is not a traditional visible satellite image. . .that is from the moon light! The Proving Grounds receive DNB imagery from NASA SPoRT and CIMSS on a routine basis to help forecasters identify significant features and help with center fixes of tropical cyclones, similar to the microwave imagery.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Thanks for reading!