April 4, 2014 - Tropical Cyclone Gillian (17P) off Australia

Tropical Cyclone Gillian (17P) off Australia

Tropical Cyclone Gillian was close to peak strength on March 23, 2014 when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASAís Aqua satellite passed over the Southern Indian Ocean and captured this true-color image. On that day, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) reported maximum sustained winds near 161 mph (259 km/h) making it a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Fortunately, Gillian was pulling away from Indonesia, so all of the regional warnings were canceled on March 23.

At the time this image was captured, the storm was showing slight signs of weakening. The previously open eye was beginning to become cloud-filled, and upper-level wind shear was beginning to cause Gillian to elongate. However, a thick band of thunderstorms can be seen wrapped tightly around the center of circulation, creating the classic apostrophe-shape that marks a strong cyclone.

The upper-level northwesterly wind shear that had been causing Gillian to elongate and weaken continued to strengthen, with steadily blowing winds reported as high as 35.5 mph (55.5 km/h). The storm could not retain intensity under those conditions, and continue to drop wind strength. By March 26, both the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and the JTWC had issued final advisories, and the storm quickly dissipated.

Despite Gillianís fiercely strong winds at peak strength, the storm center stayed away from land, so damage was relatively minor. Java suffered strong waves, and the storm brought gusty winds and rain to much of northern Australia, particularly along the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Christmas Island reported substantial damage to trees, and minor damage to some buildings. Due to the stormís location, the winds and waves caused difficulties and delays for the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 which was taking place in the Southern Indian Ocean southwest of Perth during this period.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 3/23/2014
Resolutions: 1km (1.2 MB), 500m (4.1 MB), 250m (9.6 MB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC