The 23rd storm of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season formed off the coast of Panama late on October 26, 2005. Dubbed “Beta,” the storm set a new record for the number of tropical cyclones to form in the Atlantic during a single year. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this photo-like image of the hurricane at 2:40 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on October 29, 2005. At the time, Beta had winds of 145 kilometers per hour (90 miles per hour).
Hurricane Beta came ashore in Nicaragua on October 30, roughly a day after the MODIS observation above, bringing heavy rainfall in the steep mountains of Nicaragua and Honduras. The hurricane’s Category-2-strength winds weakened to tropical-storm strength quickly after coming ashore, but the heavy rain [more than 450 millimeters (15 inches) fell in 24 hours in parts of Nicaragua] was far more dangerous than the hurricane-force winds. Early in October, a glancing blow from Hurricane Stan triggered landslides across Central America, leaving thousands dead.
The large image provided above has a resolution of 250 meters per pixel. It is available in additional resolutions from the MODIS Rapid Response Team.