These days, with so many satellite sensors looking down constantly from orbit, and so many ways to slice their data, it’s hard to remember that hurricanes used to arrive without much warning.
Hurricane Irene is currently bearing down on the Turks and Caicos Islands, and may hit the east coast of the United States by week’s end. Here’s a gallery of different views. I love the names of the different types of color enhancement, like “Rainbow” and “Funktop” (developed by a meteorologist named Ted Funk, it shows areas of intense rainfall).
Below is another enhanced infrared GOES-East image. You can see an animated version here. Blue is warmer, red is colder, white coldest. This type of coloring, by the National Hurricane Center, is done, basically, because TV viewers like pretty pictures. Really, no kidding. From the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s product description:
This enhancement is mainly utilized by the National Hurricane Center/ Tropical Prediction Center in Miami, Florida for enhancement of infrared (11µm) imagery for television, newspaper, and internet displays. This enhancement is typically provided for/by the media since they prefer to work with color imagery rather than simple black & white enhanced imagery.
And even though it’s not as colorful, here’s an impressive photo taken yesterday by Ron Garan on the International Space Station: