WATCH: Tropical Cyclone Marcus marauding through the Indian Ocean, as seen in this beautiful satellite video

By Tom Yulsman | March 22, 2018 9:21 pm

Marcus is the world’s strongest storm so far in 2018

After strengthening into the year’s first Category 5 storm, Tropical Cyclone Marcus has weakened.

At it strongest, the storm attained maximum sustained winds of 185 miles per hour as it swirled off the northwestern coast of Australia on Wednesday. As I’m writing this on Thursday (Friday morning in Australia), Marcus has settled down to 120 mph, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

It is forecast to continue to weaken and pose no risk to land.

The video above shows Marcus at its strongest, as seen by Japan’s Himawari-8 satellite. The animation begins at 20:00 UTC on March 21, 2018 and runs through 14:00 UTC on March 22. The cyclone’s maximum sustained winds during this period qualified it as a Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

A portion of northwestern Australia is seen at the bottom right, and the Indonesian archipelago is visible in the upper right.

Seeing Marcus both in daytime and nighttime is made possible by an imagery product called “GeoColor.” This allows an almost seamless transition between visible imagery acquired during the day and infrared imagery captured at night.


Another view of Tropical Cyclone Marcus. (Note: If you have trouble viewing this animated GIF in the Safari web browser, try Chrome. Source: CIMSS Satellite Blog)

The infrared view above of Marcus also was acquired by Himawari-8. The video covers 09:00 through 15:40 UTC as the storm lumbered southward, weakening as it went.

While Marcus is beginning to peter out, another storm has been strengthening and now poses a risk to Australia: Tropical Cyclone Nora.

As I’m writing this Nora is a Category 2 storm undergoing rapid intensification. Located off the northeast coast of Australia’s Northern Territory, it is moving slowly east. It is expected to reach Category 3 strength within the next 24 hours.

Nora will move soon into the Gulf of Carpenteria, with landfall forecast along the western Cape York Peninsula on Saturday or Sunday.



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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