Tropical Cyclones Parade Across the Pacific

By Tom Yulsman | August 8, 2014 5:54 pm

Screenshot of an animation showing patterns of water vapor in the atmosphere. Magenta color indicates areas where clear, dry air penetrates lower in the atmosphere. White areas show areas of high water vapor — including in three storms swirling in the Pacific Ocean between Aug. 3rd and 8th, 2014. (Source: NOAA)

Tropical Storm Iselle made landfall on the Big Island of Hawaii today, Aug. 8th — only the second tropical storm in recorded history ever to do so, and one of four cyclones that have been swirling in the Pacific Ocean.

Iselle struck with winds of 60 miles per hour, and it brought torrential rains of 4 inches per hour or more. Here’s what all that rain has wrought:

Following on Iselle’s heels is Hurricane Julio, which luckily is forecast to skirt just north of the Hawaiian Islands. And out to the west are Hurricane Genevieve, which does not pose a threat to land, and Typhoon Halong, which most definitely does.

Halong is a big and dangerous typhoon that’s already lashing Japan with rainfall. It is moving slowly and is poised to lumber ashore at Shikoku Island Saturday evening, bringing maximum sustained winds of between 75 to 90 miles per hour.

The image at the top of the post is a screenshot of an animation based on GOES weather satellite data showing a parade of three of the four storms swirling just north of the equator in the Pacific Ocean between Aug. 3rd and 8th. Click on it to watch the animation.

It reveals patterns of water vapor in the upper atmosphere, with magenta coloring showing areas with a dearth of water vapor and thus relatively clear air. White areas show where the concentration of water vapor is high — including in the cyclones: Genevieve, Iselle and Julio (which I’ve marked in the screenshot).

Hurricane Iselle is in the middle. To the east (right) is Hurricane Julio, following on fast after Iselle. And to the west (left), is Hurricane Genevieve, which develops dramatically over the course of the animation.


A screenshot of an animation showing total precipitable water in the atmosphere between Aug. 5th and 8th, 2014. Orange and red coloring show areas where the atmosphere contains more precipitable water, including in the four cyclones swirling in the Pacific Ocean. (Source: Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies.)

Here’s another remote sensing view, this one showing all four storms. The image is a screenshot of an animation showing total precipitable water in the atmosphere between Aug. 5th adn 8th. Look at the screenshot first to see the position of each storm, then click on on it to watch the animation.



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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