Washington, October 5: Capturing natural occurrences have become a common task for NASA. The American space agency has now captured Hurricane Matthew which landed on Southwestern Haiti on Tuesday. The hurricane hit the Caribbean island country as a category-4 storm—the strongest storm to hit the Caribbean nation in more than 50 years.
Just after hours of the landfall of the Matthew, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrora diometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image. At the time, Matthew had top sustained winds of about 230 kilometers (145 miles) per hour.
Earlier on Tuesday, temperature data collected by MODIS on NASA’s Aqua satellite revealed that the cloud tops around Matthew were very cold (at least -57° Celsius, or -70° Fahrenheit). Cold cloud tops are known to produce heavy rainfall. The National Hurricane Center called for 380 to 500 millimeters (15 to 20 inches) of rain in Southern Haiti and in the southwestern Dominican Republic.
The northward movement of the storm should bring the center of Matthew over eastern Cuba late on October 4. Dangerous conditions can extend far beyond a storm’s center. According to National Hurricane Center forecasters, Matthew is likely to produce devastating impacts from storm surge, extreme winds, heavy rains, flash floods, or mudslides in portions of the watch and warning areas in Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas.
The interaction with land could weaken the storm somewhat, but wind patterns in the upper atmosphere and the warm water in the tropical Atlantic should help maintain Matthew’s hurricane strength for the rest of the week.
The specific path of the storm as it approaches the United States is not yet certain. A direct impact on Florida or the Carolinas remains possible. According to American newspapers, the number of people injured and killed in Haiti had not yet been confirmed. Hundreds of homes were reportedly lost, as well as livestock and crops.
According to the latest updates, a new animation made from images taken by MISR’s downward-pointing (nadir) camera is 378 kilometers across, which is much narrower than the massive diameter of Matthew, so only the hurricane’s eye and a portion of the storm’s right side are visible. Haiti is completely obscured by Matthew’s clouds, but part of the Bahamas is visible to the north.
Several hot towers are visible within the central part of the storm, and another at the top right of the image. Hot towers are enormous thunderheads that punch through the tropopause (the boundary between the lowest layer of the atmosphere, the troposphere, and the next level, the stratosphere). The rugged topography of Haiti causes uplift within the storm, generating these hot towers and fueling even more rain than Matthew would otherwise dump on the country.