Nav: Home

NASA satellites covering typhoon Amphan headed for landfall

May 20, 2020

NASA satellites have been providing forecasters with various types of imagery on Typhoon Amphan as it heads toward a landfall near the border of eastern India and Bangladesh on May 20.

NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite provided visible imagery of Amphan and NASA's Aqua satellite provided an infrared view of the storm's cloud top temperatures. Amphan was moving north through the Bay of Bengal and forecast to make landfall in northeastern India near Kolkata, which is just west of the border with Bangladesh.

The Bay of Bengal is located in the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. The Bay is framed by India to the west, Bangladesh to the north, and Myanmar to the east.

On May 19, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard Suomi NPP provided a visible image Amphan. The image showed that Amphan covered the northern part of the Bay of Bengal.

Tropical cyclones are made up hundreds of thunderstorms, and infrared data can show where the strongest storms are located. They can do that because infrared data provides temperature information, and the strongest thunderstorms that reach highest into the atmosphere have the coldest cloud top temperatures. Convection is rising air that condenses and forms the thunderstorms that make up a tropical cyclone. When it is strong, it pushes clouds higher into the troposphere (the layer of atmosphere closest to Earth's surface). The higher you go in the troposphere, the colder the air temperature gets and colder cloud tops indicate stronger storms.

On May 20, 2020, at 3:30 a.m. EDT (0730 UTC) the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument and the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder or AIRS instrument that both fly aboard NASA's Aqua satellite found coldest cloud top temperatures in a large area around Amphan's center of circulation and along the coast on northeastern India. It was as cold as or colder than minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 62.2 Celsius). NASA research has found that cloud top temperatures that cold indicate strong storms with the potential to generate heavy rainfall.

On May 20 at 5 a.m. EDT (0900 UTC), Tropical Cyclone Amphan was located near latitude 20.5 degrees north and longitude 87.9 degrees east, approximately, 129 miles south-southwest of Kolkata, India. Amphan was moving to the north-northeast and had maximum sustained winds 85 knots (98 mph/157 kph). Amphan continued to hold on to Category 2 hurricane status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center said that Amphan was weakening as it moves north-northeast toward landfall. That landfall occurred in the morning hours of May 20 Eastern Daylight Time.

The Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) in New Dehli, India reported, "Amphan crossed West Bengal-Bangladesh coast between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) across Sunderbans near latitude 21.65 degrees north and longitude 88.3 degrees east between 1530 and 1730 [India Standard Time or] IST (6  and 8 a.m. EDT) on May 20 with wind speed of 155-165 kph [96 to 103 mph]." Amphan is forecast to move inland in a north-northeasterly direction.
Tropical cyclones/hurricanes are the most powerful weather events on Earth. NASA researches these storms to determine how they rapidly intensify, develop and behave. NASA's expertise in space and scientific exploration contributes to essential services provided to the American people by other federal agencies, such as hurricane weather forecasting.

For the latest RSMC bulletin, visit:

By Rob Gutro
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Related Tropical Cyclone Articles:

NASA finds post-Tropical Cyclone Dolly exiting the tropical stage
NASA's Terra satellite provided a night-time look at what is now Post-Tropical Storm Dolly in the Northern Atlantic Ocean.
NASA find Herold a fading ex-tropical cyclone
Former Tropical Cyclone Herold is now a fading area of low-pressure in the Southern Indian Ocean and NASA's Aqua satellite provided forecasters with a visible image.
NASA sees Tropical Cyclone Herold's eye
NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the Southern Indian Ocean and captured an image of a well-developed Tropical Cyclone Herold at hurricane strength, east of Madagascar.
A new method to improve tropical cyclone intensity forecasts
There are many reasons for model errors in numerical weather forecasting of tropical cyclone intensity.
NASA catches the dissipation of Tropical Cyclone Claudia
Tropical Cyclone Claudia was dissipating in the Southern Indian Ocean when NASA's Terra satellite captured a visible image of storm as it flew overhead in its orbit around the Earth.
NASA finds tropical cyclone 02S consolidating
NASA's Aqua satellite captured an image of Tropical cyclone 02S and the visible image showed that the storm was getting better organized.
NASA finds Tropical Cyclone's Vayu getting stretched
When NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the Northern Indian Ocean, it captured an infrared image that revealed Tropical Cyclone Vayu was elongating.
NASA takes Tropical Cyclone's Vayu's temperature
NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the Northern Indian Ocean and took the temperature of Tropical Cyclone Vayu as it moved northward in the Arabian Sea.
NASA catches development of Tropical Cyclone 02A
Visible imagery from NASA's Terra satellite provided confirmation of the development of Tropical Cyclone 02A in the Arabian Sea, Northern Indian Ocean.
NASA goes infrared on powerful Tropical Cyclone Fani
NASA's Aqua satellite focused an infrared eye on a very powerful Tropical Cyclone Fani as it approached landfall in northeastern India.
More Tropical Cyclone News and Tropical Cyclone Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.