BALTIMORE (WJZ) — While the punishing effects of Hurricane Matthew are being felt right now along the East Coast, it’s been under NASA’s satellites for days.
It’s giving researchers an opportunity to dissect the storm’s power, Alex DeMetrick reports.
From the International Space Station, Hurricane Matthew is a massive swirl.
But other NASA spacecraft are also looking, not just at the clouds above, but at the dynamics within.
“Allowing us to see inside Hurricane Matthew,” says Dr. Dalia Kirschbaum, of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. “Looking at the storm’s structure layer by layer.”
Breaking the hurricane’s forces down into bands of color is a familiar tool. But NASA is now imaging the towering heat columns in clouds 60,000 feet high.
“Giving us clues where the heaviest precipitation is and also how the storm may move and intensify,” Kirschbaum says.
Satellite images can also measure rainfall as it happens, the heaviest amounts from Matthew in purple, deluging Haiti. It’s a far cry from the 1930s, when a massive hurricane hit Ocean City, and there were only barometers and radio reports from sea to help prepare.
Even today, “especially in areas where we don’t have ground based systems,” according to Kirschbaum, “over the oceans, even developing countries, having that vantage point from space is vital.”
Peering into Matthew, seeing what makes it tick, is like learning an enemy’s secrets to prepare a defense.
“And ultimately, that information is fed into weather predication models to get a better sense of where the storm is moving, how it’s developing and ultimately how it’s going to impact us.”
One secret the researchers hope to unlock — how Matthew exploded from a Category 1 to a Category 5 hurricane in just 24 hours.