Case of the Mysterious Midget Typhoon Solved

By Tom Yulsman | July 22, 2013 6:57 pm

The Terra satellite captured this image of a cyclonic storm over the Pacific Ocean on July 17, 2013. (Image: NASA Earth Observatory)

Last Friday, I shared an animation of satellite images showing what appeared to be a midget typhoon cruising across the western Pacific Ocean. Today, NASA’s Earth Observatory featured a picture of the storm as its Image of the Day. (See the picture at the top of this post.)

A typhoon is a kind of tropical cyclone that forms in, or moves into, the western North Pacific Ocean west of the dateline. But it’s looking now that this one probably was not a true tropical cyclone.

Scott Bachmeier, a research meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, told the Earth Observatory team that while the storm did have many features of a cyclone, it lacked one key attribute: It did not appear to derive its energy from warm sea surface waters.

Do check out the Earth Observatory post for more information. For example, they’ve got details on Tropical Cyclone Tracy, a truly tiny typhoon that whacked Darwin, Australia in 1974, killing 64 people and destroying most of the city.

Last week’s quasi-tiny-typhoon (I don’t know what else to call it!) caused no damage and dissipated before making landfall.

Case closed.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Remote Sensing, select, Top Posts, Weather


ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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