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Cyclone Ingrid

Cyclone Ingrid

Cyclone Ingrid crossed the eastern shoreline of Queensland, Australia just south of the town of Lockhart River on the morning of March 10, 2005, (local time) as a powerful Category 4 storm. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Cyclone Warning Centre in Queensland estimated the storm’s wind gusts to be as strong as 240 kilometers per hour (149 mph). Fortunately, damage was not widespread because of the compact size of the storm and the sparse population in the impacted region. Five people did drown, however, when their boat capsized in heavy seas south of Papua New Guinea.

This series of images shows Cyclone Ingrid as it developed in the Coral Sea and moved over Queensland. The images were acquired by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite, which, since its launch in the fall of 1997, has provided unprecedented and valuable information on tropical cyclones around the tropics. With an active radar and a passive microwave sensor, TRMM can peer into the heart of these storms and relay important details on storm structure and location to forecasters.

The upper left image was taken at 17:31 UTC on March 6, as Ingrid was intensifying over the Coral Sea. The image shows the horizontal distribution of rain intensity (top down view) as viewed by the TRMM satellite. Rain rates in the center swath are from the TRMM Precipitation Radar (PR), while rain rates in the outer swath are from the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI). The rain rates are overlaid on infrared (IR) data from the TRMM Visible Infrared Scanner (VIRS). The center of Ingrid falls within the TMI swath in this image. TRMM shows that Ingrid already has a well-defined eye outlined by an area of moderate rain intensity (green areas) with evidence of good banding surrounding the eye (green arcs). At the time of this image, Ingrid was the equivalent of a minimal typhoon with maximum sustained winds estimated at 65 knots (75 mph) by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

The upper right image was taken on March 7, at 08:29 UTC. The PR shows that there are heavy rain rates (red areas) in the southwestern part of the eyewall and in a rainband just south of the center. The eye is small and symmetrical. In addition, Ingrid itself is shown to be a small storm. These rather small, compact cyclones are often referred to as “midget” cyclones. Ingrid, however, was now an intense cyclone with maximum sustained winds estimated at 120 knots (138 mph), equivalent to a Category 4 typhoon. As Ingrid continued to move east towards Australia it strengthened further before starting to weaken as it neared the coast and made landfall on the March 10.

The lower left image shows Ingrid on March 9, just before the storm’s center moved ashore. The lower right image was taken at 07:11 UTC (5:11 pm Australian CST) on March 10. After having crossed to the western side of the Cape York Peninsula, Ingrid weakened substantially. There is no longer any evidence of an eye and no signs of organization in the rain field. Ingrid is expected to re-emerge over the warm waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and head for the Northern Territory.

TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.

Images produced by Hal Pierce (SSAI/NASA GSFC) and caption by Steve Lang (SSAI/NASA GSFC).