3-D Top-down View Inside Cyclone Laila’s 11-mile-high Thunderstorm Captured
|This 3-D image of Cyclone Laila was made using data from TRMM’s Precipitation Radar. It shows that the powerful thunderstorms northwest of tropical cyclone Laila shot up to heights above 17.5 kilometers (~57,415 feet/10.8 miles). Courtesy of NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce|
A NASA 3-D look inside Cyclone Laila as it made landfall revealed a towering thunderstorm reaching almost 11 miles high. NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite started capturing images of Cyclone Laila when it was born in the Northern Indian Ocean as tropical depression 1A.
Scientists at NASA can use TRMM data to provide meteorologists a 3-D look at the storm’s cloud heights and rainfall, which are extremely helpful in forecasting.
“One of the interesting capabilities of the TRMM satellite is its ability to see through clouds with its Precipitation Radar (PR) and reveal the 3-D structure within storms such as Cyclone Laila,” said Hal Pierce, on the TRMM mission team in the Mesoscale Atmospheric Processes Branch at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD.
Pierce created a 3-D image of Laila. He used data captured on May 20, 2010, when TRMM also got a “top-down” view of the storm’s rainfall, and created a 3-D image that shows thunderstorm tops reaching to almost 17.5 kilometers (10.8 miles) high in the eastern side of the storm.
Laila brought nine-foot high waves and very heavy rains before it made landfall near the town of Bapatla which lies on the southeast coast of India. The Associated Press reported that 23 deaths attributed to the storm. Meanwhile, state officials reported widespread damage, downed trees, power outages and flooding.
On May 21 at 1200 UTC (8 a.m. EDT), Laila had weakened into a depression as a result of tracking over the rugged terrain of southeastern India and maximum sustained winds had waned to near 38 mph. It was located about 115 nautical miles west-southwest of Visakhapatnam, India and headed in that direction, moving north-northeast near 6 mph (5 knots).