Tropical Cyclone Atu raged over the southern Pacific Ocean in late February 2011, stretching from New Caledonia to Fiji. The U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) reported that, as of 8:00 p.m. local time on February 21, Atu was located roughly 115 nautical miles (215 kilometers) east-southeast of Port Vila, Vanuatu. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 100 knots (185 kilometers per hour) and gusts up to 125 knots (230 kilometers per hour).
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image around 11:30 a.m. local time on February 21, 2011. The center of the storm appears just east of the Vanuatu archipelago.
The JTWC forecast that Atu would accelerate roughly toward the southeast, and would probably intensify slightly over the next 24 hours. After about 36 hours, however, Atu was expected to quickly weaken, thanks to increasing vertical wind shear and lower sea surface temperatures.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.