NASA’s AIRS Sees Hurricane Douglas, Tropical Storm Hanna From Space

Wild weather sweeping in from the Pacific and the Gulf of
Mexico is bringing flooding rains, high winds, and dangerous storm surges to
Hawaii and Texas.

NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) was monitoring
two storm systems as they took aim at portions of Hawaii and Texas on July 26. Perched
on NASA’s Aqua satellite, AIRS is an instrument that studies Earth’s weather
and climate.

As of 11 a.m. local time, Hurricane Douglas was sweeping
toward Hawaii with the potential to directly hit portions of the islands, from
Maui to Kauai, in the late afternoon or evening. The purple areas in the AIRS
image – taken at 1:53 a.m. local time on July 26 – indicate very cold clouds
high in the atmosphere that are generally linked to heavy rainfall. Warmer
clouds closer to Earth’s surface show up as green and blue, and orange areas
indicate cloud-free parts of the sky.

The Category 1 hurricane was packing maximum sustained winds
of 85 mph (140 kph) on the morning of July 26. Douglas’ storm surge is forecast
to push water levels as high as 3 feet (0.9 meters) above normal tides. The
storm could dump as much as 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain onto isolated
parts of the Hawaiian Islands.

Tropical Storm Hanna

Tropical Storm Hanna made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane
around 5 p.m. local time over Padre Island, Texas, on July 25. Since then, the
storm has lost steam, weakening to a tropical storm in the early morning hours
of July 26, and then to a tropical depression by the afternoon. The purple
areas in the AIRS image – taken at 1:35 a.m. local time on July 26 – show
regions within the tropical storm with cold clouds high in Earth’s atmosphere
that tend to produce heavy rainfall. The National Hurricane Center predicts
that Hanna will continue over northeastern Mexico, where it will dissipate by
late in the day on July 27.

NASA’s AIRS instrument captured this image of Tropical Storm Hanna at 1:35 a.m. local time on July 26, 2020, as the storm swept over southern Texas and northeastern Mexico. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

› Full image and caption

AIRS, in
conjunction with the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU), senses emitted
infrared and microwave radiation from Earth to provide a three-dimensional look
at Earth’s weather and climate. Working in tandem, the two instruments make
simultaneous observations down to Earth’s surface. With more than 2,000
channels sensing different regions of the atmosphere, the system creates a
global, three-dimensional map of atmospheric temperature and humidity, cloud
amounts and heights, greenhouse gas concentrations and many other atmospheric
phenomena. Launched into Earth orbit in 2002, the AIRS and AMSU
instruments fly aboard NASA’s
Aqua spacecraft and are managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern
California, under contract to NASA. JPL is a division of Caltech.

More information about AIRS can be found

News Media Contact

Jane J. Lee / Ian J. O’Neill

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-354-0307 / 818-354-2649 /


Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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