Here Comes Flossie

By Tom Yulsman | July 29, 2013 10:38 am

| UPDATE 4 p.m. MDT, 7/29/2013: I was mistaken in my first update below. I should not have been looking at water vapor. Here’s an animation of GOES satellite images in the visual end of the spectrum. The center of Tropical Storm Flossie’s circulation is clearly seen tracking north of the Big Island and headed toward Maui. (Look for the cyclonic pattern in the clouds.)

The center of Tropical Storm Flossie’s circulation is seen headed for Maui in this animation of GOES satellite images. (Animation: NOAA)

But the Big Island may still be hit with a lot of rain.

| UPDATE 2 p.m. MDT, 7/29/2013: The Central Pacific Hurricane Center has shifted Tropical Storm Flossie’s projected track a bit to the north, which would have the center of the storm making landfall in Maui today, rather than the Big Island. But I just checked the satellite imagery, and it sure looks like Flossie is taking dead aim on the Big Island — almost momentarily:

In this false-color GOES satellite image emphasizing water vapor, Tropical Storm Flossie appears to be headed straight toward the Big Island of Hawaii. (Animation: NOAA)

We’ll see how it develops. What follows below is this morning’s original post.

A sequence of infrared images from the VIIRS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite shows Tropical Storm Flossie approaching the Big Island of Hawaii. The second image was captured at night, the other two during the day. (Image: CIMSS Satellite Blog)

Residents of Hawaii are bracing for heavy rain and possible flash flooding as Tropical Storm Flossie approaches this morning from the east.

You can see her getting a bit disorganized in the sequence of three infrared satellite images above from the VIIRS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite. With dry air aloft and wind shear, Flossie has weakened.

Even so, she is still producing sustained maximum winds of 50 miles per hour. She will hit the shore of the Big Island very soon, and when she does she is forecast to bring surf as high as 10 to 20 feet on east-facing shores. And lots of rain: six to 10 inches,  and up to 15 inches in some places, according to the National Weather Service in Hilo.

A flash flood watch is now in effect for all of the Hawaiian Islands until 6 a.m. Wednesday local time.

As an interesting aside, tropical storms and hurricanes are uncommon in Hawaii. Meteorologist Jeff Masters has some interesting information about this on his WunderBlog, so check it out. A snippet:

Tropical storms and hurricanes are uncommon in the Hawaiian Islands. Only eight named storms have impacted Hawaii in the 34 year period 1979–2012, an average of one storm every four years. Since 1949, the Hawaiian Islands received a direct hit from just two hurricanes–Dot in 1959, and Iniki in 1992. Both hit the island of Kauai.

Here’s a different infrared view of Flossie, from a GOES weather satellite:

Tropical Storm Flossie approaches Hawaii in this animation of infrared images from a GOES weather satellite.  Click on the image for the animation. (Source: CIMSS)

It looks to me like Flossie’s outer bands are already sweeping over the Big Island. Here she comes…




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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